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Israel’s Al Jalame prison: ‘Palestinian children are locked in solitary confinement for days or even weeks’

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Israeli soldiers with arrested Palestinian youths. Photograph: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

The Guardian published a scathing article over the weekend by Harriet Sherwood on human rights abuses suffered by Palestinian children in Al Jalame prison in northern Israel.

The report is a culmination of interviews conducted by the Guardian including  descriptions of sworn testimonies of minors collected by Defence for Children International (DCI), a human rights organization that has collected hundreds of testimonies from Palestinian children since 2008. The Guardian also viewed rare audiovisual recordings of the interrogations of two boys from the village of Nabi Saleh. Their report is corroborated by B’Tselem’s study No Minor Matter, published last July. It’s a must read.

The Guardian:

During interrogation, he was shackled. “They cursed me and threatened to arrest my family if I didn’t confess,” he said. He first saw a lawyer 20 days after his arrest, he said, and was charged after 25 days. “They accused me of many things,” he said, adding that none of them were true.

Eventually Shabrawi confessed to membership of a banned organisation and was sentenced to 45 days. Since his release, he said, he was “now afraid of the army, afraid of being arrested.” She said he had become withdrawn.

Ezz ad-Deen Ali Qadi from Ramallah, who was 17 when he was arrested last January, described similar treatment during arrest and detention. He says he was held in solitary confinement at Al Jalame for 17 days in cells 36, 37 and 38.

“I would start repeating the interrogators’ questions to myself, asking myself is it true what they are accusing me of,” he told the Guardian. “You feel the pressure of the cell. Then you think about your family, and you feel you are going to lose your future. You are under huge stress.”

His treatment during questioning depended on the mood of his interrogators, he said. “If he is in a good mood, sometimes he allows you to sit on a chair without handcuffs. Or he may force you to sit on a small chair with an iron hoop behind it. Then he attaches your hands to the ring, and your legs to the chair legs. Sometimes you stay like that for four hours. It is painful.

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is a mom, a human rights activist, and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area and likes to garden. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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22 Responses

  1. Avi_G. on January 23, 2012, 10:02 am

    At Israeli prisons, Palestinian children are also shackled by the legs, handcuffed by the wrists and then the handcuffs and shackles are connected rendering the child immobile. In American parlance it is known as being hogtied.

    Other ‘techniques’ include sleep deprivation, repeated slaps to the face and head, and head-shaking, which sometimes results in death.

  2. Cliff on January 23, 2012, 10:18 am

    Arrested for being the Palestinian.

    The Israeli ‘Justice’ system at work, as much of a sham as the Apartheid Wall (annexing Palestinian land under the guise of security).

    • john h on January 23, 2012, 10:12 pm

      The Israeli ‘Justice’ system at work

      Military Court Approves Illegal Interrogation of a Minor

      Tuesday, 10 January 2012

      Major Sharon Rivlin, a judge at the Ofer Military Court, accepted as admissible the testimony of a 14 year-old Palestinian boy who was unlawfully arrested in the dead of night, questioned without being allowed sleep, denied his right to legal counsel, and not told of his right to remain silent.

      Adv Gaby Lasky, the boy’s lawyer, said, “A reality in which the military court decides to accept the confession of a 14 year-old as admissible evidence despite severe and undisputed violation of his rights during both his arrest and interrogation, is unacceptable.

      It is an incomprehensible decision, unveiling the fact that legislation allegedly intended to protect minors’ rights is no more than lip service when Palestinians are concerned.

      This ruling sends a clear message that illegal arrest and interrogation of Palestinian minors can continue unhindered.”

  3. American on January 23, 2012, 10:47 am


  4. patm on January 23, 2012, 11:30 am

    More from the Guardian piece:

    “Several British parliamentary delegations have witnessed child hearings at Ofer over the past year. Alf Dubs reported back to the House of Lords last May, saying: “We saw a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old, one of them in tears, both looking absolutely bewildered … I do not believe this process of humiliation represents justice. I believe that the way in which these young people are treated is in itself an obstacle to the achievement by Israel of a peaceful relationship with the Palestinian people.”

    Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan, who witnessed the trial of a shackled 14-year-old at Ofer last month, found the experience distressing. “In five minutes he had been found guilty of stone-throwing and was sentenced to nine months. It was shocking to see a child being put through this process. It’s difficult to see how a [political] solution can be reached when young people are being treated in this manner. They end up with very little hope for their future and very angry about their treatment.”

    Horton said a guilty plea was “the quickest way to get out of the system”. If the children say their confession was coerced, “that provides them with a legal defence – but because they’re denied bail they will remain in detention longer than if they had simply pleaded guilty”.”

    And the Zionists proclaim their religion as the legitimate authority for their state. How on earth can they expect us not to become Judeophobes?

    • annie on January 23, 2012, 12:23 pm

      i know patm, it was really hard applying fair use with this article because most of it is stuff everyone should read. i hope people open the link and read the whole thing.

      • patm on January 23, 2012, 1:31 pm

        Annie, I’ve never heard the expression “applying fair use with [an] article”.

        Can you expand a little? Thanks.

      • Hostage on January 23, 2012, 1:39 pm

        Can you expand a little? Thanks.

      • patm on January 23, 2012, 1:59 pm

        Right, a copyright issue. My brain was still on the sheer awfulness of the content when I read annie’s reply.

      • annie on January 23, 2012, 3:15 pm

        patm, because it was a fairly long article i extended fair use in this case. usually i try to stick with 3 paragraphs.

      • patm on January 23, 2012, 4:08 pm

        Right annie, and just by chance I only posted three paras. Do you think that between the two of us we have breached the fair use rules in this instance?

        i.e. should I be careful not to post a section of an article if you’ve already done so?

      • annie on January 23, 2012, 6:19 pm

        oh, i don’t think it matters that much to post some extra paragraphs in the comment section. we discourage posting whole articles in the comment section tho. no worries ;)

    • seafoid on January 23, 2012, 4:47 pm

      It’s difficult to see how a [political] solution can be reached when young people are being treated in this manner. They end up with very little hope for their future and very angry about their treatment.”

      They don’t want a political settlement. They do like Weisglass said a few years ago. Freeze the process in formaldehyde.

      “The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process,” Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s senior adviser Dov Weisglass has told Haaretz.
      “And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.”

      Targeting teenagers for ritual humiliation – this reminds me of an article I read last Sunday in the NZZ about Guantanamo. The aim is to break people. The empire must destroy them. Break their spirit so Jews can pretend they own the place.

      And this is what the Jewish State is. It is a state that tortures young kids. Employs people whose job is to traumatise Palestinians for life so they will never forget that the land belongs to the Jewish people. And to them only. And it’s a very complex system that makes this possible . The education business in Israel is built around delivering people who can operate this.

      I had an arabic teacher in Bir Zeit who was tortured by the Israelis for 2 years. He said that one day they’ll realise that they have built a dysfunctional society around their own fear of the world.

      And this is at the heart of Jewish identity? Do Jews identify with this?

  5. Cliff on January 23, 2012, 1:08 pm

    I think zionists want us to become judeophobes. Thats the point of sentencing a 13 year old to nine months.

    Are they as harsh on setlers? No

  6. justicewillprevail on January 23, 2012, 4:14 pm

    It’s disgusting and what is even worse knowing and deliberate. This is part of the overall strategy to make life hell for Palestinians, such that Israelis quietly believe that they will leave. It is about the extinguishing of any hope, any glimmering of a normal life. It is what they smugly, callously, cruelly call ‘teaching them a lesson’, closely followed by their other favourite, ‘it’s the only language they understand’.
    Israel is beyond the pale for any shred of civil society. They are an ideologically constructed militarised cult not unlike the fascism they claim to detest. They are beneath contempt, beyond hypocrisy and a disgrace to their forebears.

    • annie on January 23, 2012, 6:22 pm

      it is a way to control society, by withholding and torturing their children. it is so sick i can’t stand it.

      • justicewillprevail on January 24, 2012, 6:26 am

        Agreed, it is very hard to take, coming from such an arrogant and cruel society which then whines and manipulates about absolutely everything, claiming they are the victims – sick. What does the US/world owe these people? Nothing.

  7. Blake on January 23, 2012, 4:35 pm

    Reading what Palestinians have to put up with, and have done so for over 6 decades, is heart rending stuff. Thanks to sites like MW it restores some faith in Humanity.

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