Arrests of Palestinian children– ‘a boy in leg irons’ — is becoming a big story in UK

Israel/Palestine
on 26 Comments
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Defense for Children International Photo:Anne Paq/Activestills.org

When I first read Joseph Dana’s article of last year, “Israeli army targets and arrests children in order to repress Palestinian dissent in the West Bank,” it sent chills up my spine, and I was sure that someday, somehow this story would get out onto the world stage. Today we’re one step closer.

The Independent’s Terri Judd is reporting that the UK is ready to take on Israel over fate of children clapped in irons:

The Foreign Office revealed last night that it would be challenging the Israelis over their treatment of Palestinian children after a report by a delegation of senior British lawyers revealed unconscionable practices, such as hooding and the use of leg irons.

In the first investigation of its kind, a team of nine senior legal figures examined how Palestinians as young as 12 were treated when arrested. Their shocking report Children in Military Custody details claims that youngsters are dragged from their beds in the middle of the night, have their wrists bound behind their backs, and are blindfolded and made to kneel or lie face down in military vehicles.

Children from the West Bank are held in conditions that could amount to torture, such as solitary confinement, with little or no access to their parents. They can be forced to stay awake before being verbally as well as physically abused and coerced into signing confessions they cannot read.

The team – led by Sir Stephen Sedley, a former Court of Appeal judge – heard that “every Palestinian child is treated like a potential terrorist”. In a damning conclusion, the report points out repeated breaches of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

“We were sitting in court and saw a section of a preliminary hearing when a very young looking child, a boy, was brought in wearing a brown uniform with leg irons on. We were shocked by that. This was a situation where we had been invited into the military courts for briefings from senior judges,” explained one of the report’s authors, human rights barrister Greg Davies. “To hold children routinely and for substantial periods in solitary confinement would, if it occurred, be capable of amounting to torture,” the report said. Last night the Foreign Office, which backed the report, said it would be taking up the claims with the Israeli authorities

Judd’s article chronicles a delegation of senior British lawyers and their report, Children in Military Custody. But one thing it does not do is provide context for a lot of these arrests. It doesn’t mention they take place in villages across the West Bank involved in non-violent struggle and in areas where village lands are targeted for annexation to nearby settlements and the settlers are pushing Palestinians off their lands.

People cherish their children. That is one thing all societies share in common. Targeting the children of a village so as to stop residents from protesting the confiscation of their village land or for the theft of resources or expansion of settlements is, as the Independent says, unconscionable– and it is happening right before our eyes in villages all across the West Bank including Bil’in, Nabi Saleh, Beit Ommar, Beit Sahour, the Jordan Valley as well as in East Jerusalem.

This quote from Nabi Saleh’s Bassem Tamimi, via Joseph Dana’s report, says it all:

“They come for our woman and our children,” Bassem Tamimi, the leader of the Popular Committee of Nabi Saleh recently told me, “they [the Israeli army] know that woman are half our population and half our strength and so they target them along with the children.” Tamimi, a gentle man with a warm smile spoke to me about the repression of his village as we sat in his home overlooking the settlement of Halamish. “They know where to apply pressure on our resistance. It has become really difficult since the last wave of arrests.”

Israel is devoting maximum effort to the repression of Nabi Saleh’s determination to demonstrate against the Occupation. The specific method of repression has been in development for the past eight years and is not only designed to break the demonstrations but to leave permanent psychological scars on the next generation of Nabi Saleh villagers. In short, children are used to implicate the leaders of the Popular Committee for incitement in demonstrations, providing evidence for their long term incarceration. In the last month, six children have been arrested or detained in Nabi Saleh by the army.

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Islam Tamimi of Nabi Saleh. Photo: Alison Rammer

Often forces enter homes in the middle of the night and wake the children, document them, photograph them, demand their I.D’s, or arrest the children. Sometimes children are arrested and held as ransom until a wanted relative turns himself in.

Jan 23 2011

Tamimi was taken by soldiers during a Friday demonstration to the neighboring Jewish only settlement of Halamish. He was handcuffed behind his back and left in the pouring rain for hours before being questioned about the demonstrations, their leadership and strategy. Villagers believe that he was arrested last night in order to extract more information about the demonstrations in Nabi Saleh. This is a part of a broader strategy of psychological repression of the village and a harsh form of collective punishment. Ironically, the army spokesperson unit tweeted this morning that a ‘wanted suspect’ had been caught in the West Bank and taken for questioning. Nothing was said that the ‘suspect’ was a fourteen year old child.

Another raid followed a few months later:

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Night raid in Nabi Saleh 24 November 2011

The embattled village of Nabi Saleh saw a resumption of night raids last night. The house of imprisoned popular committee leader Bassem Tamimi was raided by Israeli soldiers at 02:00 this morning…

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Protest in Beit Ommar Land Day 2012 Photo:Hazem Bader

The Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP) has been documenting the crackdown on the non violent resistance movement in Beit Ommar village since 2006. Nearby settlements have been seizing Beit Ommar’s lands, and the village has sought to protest.

This photo was taken on March 31st of this year, Land Day. I recognized the  boy’s face while reading  PSP’s report: 15-year-old Mohamad (Hamouda) Abu Hashem released from prison. PSP informs me that the two boys in these pictures are brothers.

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Mohamad (Hamouda)Abu Hashem

“They slapped him and demanded to know why he and his family, many of whom are involved in the resistance movement, participated in the local Beit Ommar protests. They showed Hamouda pictures of other Palestinians and demanded that he identify and give information on them, and continued to question him for two more hours when he replied that he didn’t know them. ”

Hamouda was released from prison just two days ago, looking traumatized and exhausted after two months of incarceration.

Last year we reported the murder of 17-year-old Yousef Fakhri Ikhlayl, active in Beit Ommar’s non violent resistance:

Around 100 settlers from Bat Ayn settlement descended upon the Palestinian villages of Saffa and nearby Beit Ommar in the southern West Bank, shooting 17-year-old Yousef Fakhri Ikhlayl (left) in his head, leaving him critically injured. Doctors have announced that Yousef is currently brain-dead in a Hebron hospital…..Yousef Fahkri Ikhlayl is from the village of Beit Ommar and has worked on initiatives with the Palestine Solidarity Project, an anti-occupation organization in Beit Ommar. In the summer of 2010, Yousef attended the Center for Freedom and Justice’s Freedom Flotilla Summer Camp where he engaged in educational projects, community service, and unarmed demonstrations against the Israeli occupation.

Israeli soldiers, police, and settlers have regularly launched attacks against Beit Ommar’s villagers, at times when they are cultivating their lands. Several prominent activists from the village have been arrested recently. (Here’s video).

The Alternative Information Center reports that many of the arrested have been children:

The last few months, particularly June, have seen an alarming rise in arrests of Beit Ummar residents and activists. Particularly shocking has been the high number of children arrested, with many reporting their experience of violence and abuse whilst in detention. The arrest of four prominent Beit Ommar activists within the past few weeks, including three popular committee members, is a sign of the Israeli Occupation Forces’ continuing efforts to suppress non-violent popular resistance in the area.

Here is Defense for Children International’s urgent appeal about this practice, sent out earlier this month.

There is a pattern here; and it’s not about unruly kids throwing rocks. It’s about Israel targeting children so as to squelch nonviolent resistance. For as the government has admitted, it doesn’t do Gandhi very well.

Are there any rules here? Well, yes. Here are recommendations on the treatment of children from the UK delegation’s report Children in Military Custody:

Interrogation
10. On arrival at a place of detention, children should be immediately reminded of their right to silence. Their right to consult a lawyer prior to interrogation (in accordance with Military Order 1676) should be respected.
11. Children should have a parent or guardian present prior to and during their interrogation.
12. Children should have access to a full medical examination both prior to and after interrogation. The assessment should document any complaints and findings and consider both the psychological and physical state of the child. The child’s lawyer should have access to the assessment.
13. Interrogations should be conducted during daytime (in accordance with Israeli youth law), after an appropriate period of rest and refreshment, and only by specially trained youth interviewers.
14. Interrogations should be audio-visually recorded and the tapes should be made available to the child’s lawyer.
15. Children should not be required to sign confessions and statements written in a language other than their own.
16. The prohibition on violent, threatening or coercive conduct towards children should be strictly observed throughout all stages of interrogation and detention.

22. Military prosecutors should not base prosecutions of children solely on confession evidence without first adopting a system of the kind set out in these recommendations, and should fully assess the conditions under which any confession was obtained.
23. Allegations or evidence from other children should not be relied upon if obtained in breach of these recommendations.
24. Any confession written in any language other than the child’s own should not be accepted as evidence.

Resources documenting these abuses continue to grow. They include B’tselem’s “No Minor Matter” and the Defense for Children International (DCI) collection of sworn testimonies from children. DCI just recently submitted a report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in advance of its review of Israel’s compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2013.

The British media are paying attention. Here is the UK’s Channel 4 covering the Independent’s report on Children in Military Custody:

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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26 Responses

  1. seafoid
    June 29, 2012, 9:48 am

    Great post, Annie.

    YESHA does nothing for the people of the UK. It brings them no benefits. Well done to the Foreign Office for drawing attention to Israel’s inhumanity.

  2. seafoid
    June 29, 2012, 9:55 am

    By the way note that Israel has been brutally cracking down on Jews protesting the system too

    link to haaretz.com
    What do female social justice demonstrators on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard and elsewhere have in common with Palestinians, refugees, left-wing activists in the occupied territories and right wingers protesting the disengagement? Bear in mind that we can continue this list endlessly.
    Well, all these women – and in fact all women (apart from very few) – have been sexually harassed, or are currently being sexually harassed.
    The social protests of the past weekend, where movement leader Daphni Leef was arrested on Friday and which became unexpectedly violent on Saturday, demonstrated the point especially clearly because they were filmed. Whether it was Leef’s arrest, or the police attacks on other women (some of them choked), it is important to emphasize that these were not women who leapt upon a police officer and tried to assault him; they were ordinary protesters.
    In addition, male protesters – who did nothing wrong – were beaten by the police. This is also a serious issue. The focus on violence against women does not stem from some sort of idea that they are meant to be delicate creatures; the issue is that in a reality where women are harassed by men every day, the assault perpetuated by a man in uniform is a double attack. In addition to the individual harassment, this was also an attack that was sanctioned by the state.

    The money shot from Gideon Levy

    link to haaretz.com

    Contrary to the protests by other groups in our society, the social justice protest strives to undermine the existing order. That is precisely what the parents don’t like. The ultra-Orthodox, the soccer fans and the settlers in fact want to preserve the existing order, the one that includes religious coercion, soccer violence and a cruel occupying regime. The society and establishment in Israel can bear that; what it can’t bear is change.

  3. Blake
    June 29, 2012, 10:29 am

    Thanks Annie. Chills and then some. The parents of detained children especially feel impotent against this mammon nightmare as they can do not a thing about these crimes. “Israel” is a law unto itself.

    Jews sans frontieres had an article up a few days ago entitled “Suffer little Children” with a link to UK’s The Guardian newspaper:
    link to jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.co.uk

    Excerpt:
    A belief that every Palestinian child is a potential terrorist may be leading to a “spiral of injustice” and breaches of international law in Israel’s treatment of child detainees in military custody, a delegation of eminent British lawyers has concluded in an independent report backed by the Foreign Office.

    The nine-strong delegation, led by the former high court judge Sir Stephen Sedley and including the UK’s former attorney-general Lady Scotland, found that “undisputed facts” pointed to at least six violations of the UN convention on the rights of the child, to which Israel is a signatory. It was also in breach of the fourth Geneva convention in transferring child detainees from the West Bank to Israeli prisons, the delegation said.

    • Annie Robbins
      June 29, 2012, 10:44 am

      blake, i completely missed Harriet Sherwood’s current article. link to guardian.co.uk i saw the video tho because it was linked to her earlier powerful article (embedded in “sworn testimonies from children.” 2nd to last paragraph, we covered it on MW) which she wrote in january. she mentions the delegation from the UK in the earlier article and how they met w/b’tselem and DCI. thank you.

      • Blake
        June 29, 2012, 10:55 am

        Most welcome. One must thank you for caring and seeking justice!

      • Kris
        June 29, 2012, 7:01 pm

        Thank you for this story. Harriet Sherwood’s current article that you link to is worth covering, too; the picture of the Israeli soldiers looming over the little boys they have arrested is priceless.

        I have tried to share this current Guardian article on facebook three different times, but it just won’t come up. Does facebook censor news reports from abroad? Hope you’ll cover the article, and include the picture, so that I can post it on facebook.

  4. Eva Smagacz
    June 29, 2012, 10:31 am

    I agree that it is an important story – I am quoting it wherether I can.

    • Annie Robbins
      June 29, 2012, 10:36 am

      thanks eva. i know we’re a tad late on covering this story so i do hope people who’ve already read the independent article check it out here. because i think the work done by those on the ground (chronicled in the story) paints a much clearer picture what all this is about, the context, which is what i tried to emphasize. thanks for reading.

  5. American
    June 29, 2012, 10:46 am

    Gald you covered this annie…..any way we can spread it around to some other sites?

    • Annie Robbins
      June 29, 2012, 11:02 am

      is that a question american? of course! i really meant what i said (actually i didn’t articulate it well in the post), and i’ve repeated it in conversations with people offline when the series of articles first broke, i think the story of how israel uses (imprisons and tortures) palestinian children to suppress/punish palestinians society and make them fear/suffer is the story that will break the camels back..if it can just get out. when i first read dana’s articles..the clarity was unmistakable.

      • American
        June 29, 2012, 11:29 am

        annie…..I ‘ll post link to this at some other sites and send it to some people…….maybe we can get a buzz going.

        • Blake
          June 29, 2012, 12:04 pm

          American: May I ask which sites?

        • American
          June 29, 2012, 1:21 pm

          So far I have sent it to Jason at antiwar.com and Greenwald at Salon and the American Conserative —have some more to do.
          But right now I am culling thru online msm press article comment threads on Israel for appropriate places to insert it–it needs to be in msm places.

          Meanwhile Open Zion has this half ass excuse article about Palestine children, proving once again liberal zionist are next to useless…same old hasbara hedging…”oh it’s so complicated, yada,yada.”
          link to thedailybeast.com

  6. Kathleen
    June 29, 2012, 10:47 am

    As is always the case another great post Annie

    “The Foreign Office revealed last night that it would be challenging the Israelis over their treatment of Palestinian children after a report by a delegation of senior British lawyers revealed unconscionable practices, such as hooding and the use of leg irons.”

    Important

    Check this out
    link to huffingtonpost.com

    • Annie Robbins
      June 29, 2012, 11:06 am

      thanks kathleen, yes i read that this morning. after the holocaust beauty pageant it was the top israel news story. (not sure that’s the case now after the UNESCO vote)

  7. talknic
    June 29, 2012, 11:34 am

    Drip drip drip

    • ritzl
      June 29, 2012, 2:54 pm

      Drip, drip, drip, drip, scrape (bottom of barrel).

      Not much further to go, is there?

  8. Kate
    June 29, 2012, 11:39 am

    Thank you Annie!! What would we do without you?

  9. ritzl
    June 29, 2012, 2:22 pm

    Great post, Annie. The difference in Hamoud Abu Hashem in the the two photos is startling. Noticeably more ashen and thinner in the release photo. What a despicable practice.

    Glad some significant notice is being taken, at least in the UK. Tweeted.

    Sort of OT, but anyone seeing those choke holds should think Krav Maga. I see it mentioned as “product placement” references in TV a lot. I lost what I thought was a good friend over a “discussion” of what it was arguably developed for, and is certainly used for, as seen in these pix. Subjugation and humiliation.

    • ritzl
      June 29, 2012, 2:29 pm

      Speaking of Twitter, does anyone have a list or a link to useful hashtags? My limited noob vocabulary on this is #Gaza and #freegaza, but there must be others that can incorporate and/or trend the broader I/P, Occupation issue.

  10. radii
    June 29, 2012, 2:39 pm

    it took knocking down arch-zionist and government-corrupter Murdoch through the public hearings and pressure upon his media empire to free up the zio-controlled British press just enough to let this through

  11. ritzl
    June 29, 2012, 2:50 pm

    And sarcasm (or is that verifiable past practice?) demands:

    Based on Israel being awarded the FIFA/UEFA U21 tourney based upon its stellar treatment of Palestinian footballers, is it entirely out of the question to presume that Israel would host the next Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2014 based upon these practices? Will “the world” feel a need to make Israel/Israelis feel not so bad about themselves and what they do? De-de-ligitimization? I feel the lobbying pressure from here.

  12. W.Jones
    June 29, 2012, 9:05 pm

    When I look at the photos I feel my own weakness and powerlessness to stop it.

  13. YoungMassJew
    July 1, 2012, 2:29 pm

    Annie I thank you for posting this. Zionism simply has no limits. No stop buttons whatsoever. Everytime I hear something like this I think it can’t get worse than their last worst. I’m always dreading the next shoe to drop. God help us all!

  14. dooler
    July 2, 2012, 4:30 am

    I appreciate you bringing up the Abu Hashem family. Living mostly in Beit Ommar for the past four months, I have become close to this family, and I wrote many of those reports for PSP about their arrests. Ahmed Abu Hashem, a member of the Beit Ommar Popular Committee, was arrested on May 12, 2012 from the weekly demonstration in Beit Ommar, and he is still in prison. When I tried to protect Ahmed from his violent arrest, two soldiers choked me and dragged me off of him by the neck. The video of his arrest can be found here: link to youtu.be

    Ahmed is the father of two girls and six boys, including Hamza (the 14 year old boy being choked in the picture) and Hamouda. The Israeli military regularly performs nightraids at the Abu Hashem residence, and recently came to arrest Hamza, who was not home at the time. Emad, another one of Ahmed’s sons, is also still in prison, and Yousef was released just this past April. This family has had it incredibly rough, as have many families throughout the West Bank.

    From the beginning of 2012 to the end of May, there were 84 arrests from Beit Ommar (this number has, of course, increased since then). 56 six of those were under 21, and 37 were under 18. Here is the PSP report: link to palestinesolidarityproject.org

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