A response to the article of the press attaché for the Embassy of Israel in London
Center for Political and Development Studies, Gaza.
Translated by: Yousef M. Aljamal
Edited by: Joe CatronIsraeli soldiers hold Palestinian children under arrest in the West Bank city of Hebron in August 2011. Photograph: Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA
Mr. Amir Ofek, the press attaché for the Embassy of Israel in London, published an article in response to The Guardian special report entitled “The Palestinian children – alone and bewildered – in Israel’s Al Jalame jail”.
His response included many allegations and false information which should be clarified. He said, “When a minor involved in terrorist activity is arrested, the law is clear: no torture or humiliation is permitted, nor is solitary confinement in order to induce a confession – which challenges the veracity of the accounts in your article”. He also ignored all forms of torture to which Israel subjects Palestinian children. He claimed that children have been accused of committing atrocities, including killing the Fogel family while they slept. He also claimed that Palestinian factions send children to commit suicide bombings.
The public should know the truth of what is going on in order to stop what children are subjected to and the grievous violations against them.
Imprisonment is a primary tool of Israeli oppression against the Palestinian people, half of whom have gone though detention, including administrative detention, arbitrary detention, and temporary detention at Israeli checkpoints.
This sort of humiliation is not limited to children. The International Committee of the Red Cross documents that 700 children are detained every year, 65% of them under the cover of darkness, as Al-dameer Association for Human Rights points out. This occurs in an atmosphere of terrorism and includes breaking down doors and densely shooting bullets to cause panic. This has been repeated many times in Al-aroub Camp, Bit-rima village near Ramallah City, Bit Ummar village, Nabi Saleh, and in other Palestinian communities.
Most dangerously, Haartz reveals that 35% of detained Palestinian children are subjected to sexual harassments of all sorts. The Ansaar Alsajeen Association has recorded the sworn statements of children subjected to sexual harassment and the uncovering of sensitive body parts, as well as direct threats of rape. Some of them said that this reached the level of bringing naked female soldiers into the interrogation rooms and taking pictures of children with them.
Humiliation was not limited to this method and included physical violence. B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights, records that more than 80% of children were subjected to beating, verbal humiliation, and violence of different sorts:
1. Solidarity confinement in Al Jalame, Almaskoubie, Ashkelon, Huwarra and Atsion and the prevention of children from leaving it for periods between two weeks and two months.
2. Beating with hands, wood, and the butts of guns, which is proven by the clinics of the Israeli Prison Service and visits of the Red Cross, which keeps many facts without publishing them.
3. Continuous hanging, with the prevention of sleep, which takes several forms including hanging on chairs or forcing the child to stand for many hours. The lawyers of the Prisoners’ Club recoded the some children, for two months, were asked to stand for 20 hours a day on a small chair as loud music played.
4. Psychological pressure, including the arrests of family members, threats of house demolitions, and confinement in dark cells with the sound of people being tortured in the background.
Legal rights and Israel’s lies
Israeli military law, the main factor in Israel’s legal behavior in court, fails to meet the minimum standards of global judicial principles. Examples of this are:
– In no case do lawyers attend any interrogation sessions by the Shabak and the Israeli Police.
– Most interrogation sessions occur without legal permission and most confessions are presented to the Military General Attorney 48 hours after being recoded by police.
– Israeli solider’s testimony is used to prove accusations without evidence, resulting in sentences from 6 months to a year.
– Criminal and police record is not used to debunk any accusation. For example, if there was no shooting on Thursday, yet a child is coerced into confessing to it, the conviction is approved according to the confessions of the child and his supposed partners.
Violations of detained children’s rights
These occur in diverse and various forms. The most important are:
1- The intelligence device takes responsibility for children in prisons, aiming to extort them into becoming informants.
2- Educational books and any educational atmosphere are prevented in the prisons, especially in Ofer and Majido.
3- Children are prevented from practicing their right to play and restricted to playing tennis on tables of which the ICRC provides one per year.
4- No pediatrician is allowed in. The prison service only allows a nurse to visit children. Many children suffer from psychological orders, but receive no treatment for them.
5- The prison service allows cigarettes and porn channels in, aiming to kill childhood.
Accusations directed at children
Talking about samples of children in prison as killers holds no truth. The figures of the Prisoners’ Club show that 99% of children are accused of throwing stones at the IOF, and 70% of them are convicted according to witnesses from the IOF. This makes the credibility of the accusation doubtful.
The main suspect in the killing of the Fogel family was not a child and was over 18 years old when he carried out the operation.
That operation is condemned by all possible means and refused by Palestinians and their religion, which prohibits even touching children, women, and civilians. The motive behind the killing, if the Israeli narrative is true, was retaliation. Settlers killed people in that area and confiscated lands, besieged it, and burnt its mosques, prompting hatred that may have led to an illegal revenge.
The youth accused in this incident were 18 and 20 years old.
The press attaché’s response included claims regarding children planning to commit suicide bombings. The Palestinian security apparatuses has proven that Israeli spies (holding the Palestinian nationality), who claimed that they belonged to Palestinian factions, were recruited by the Mossad to work for it, making use of the depression affecting many children because of the oppressive practices of the occupation. They were arrested later to defame the image of the Palestinian people.
It’s worth mentioning that all Palestinian factions repeatedly condemned the recruitment of children for armed operations against Israel. Certain groups accused of being linked to Israel’s security apparatuses recruited them to the defame the image of the Palestinian people.