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Detained Palestinian teen in viral photo to be sentenced in a court with a 99.74 percent conviction rate

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Fawzi al-Junaidi, 16, will be taken in for a hearing in Israel’s military court today, after being held for more than a week in Israeli detention.

Junaidi was detained during clashes that erupted in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Dec. 7, the day after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

A photo taken by photographer Wisam Hashlamoun during the arrest went viral, as it showed the disoriented and blindfolded teen being manhandled, surrounded by at least twenty fully-armed Israeli soldiers as he was taken away.

Brad Parker, the International Advocacy Officer & Attorney for Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP), told Mondoweiss that the photo should be seen as a symbol of Israel’s normal practices concerning Palestinian children, and not a special circumstance.

“The image provided a vivid and raw snapshot of the disparity in power inherent in Israel’s military occupation of Palestinians and helped expose the persistent widespread, systematic and institutionalized ill-treatment of Palestinian child detainees by Israeli forces,” Parker said.

Fawzi’s lawyer, Farah Bayadsi, told media that the teen had been beaten, showing up with “bruises all over his neck, chest and back.” The teen said soldiers beat him with a rifle.

Fawzi is being accused of throwing stones during clashes, a claim he denies. If found guilty, the maximum charge for stone throwing is 20 years in Israeli prison.

The likelihood that Fawzi will be found guilty is high, as 99.74 percent of all cases brought to Israel’s military court end in a guilty verdict, according to the court’s own internal documentation.

However, Parker said the court is not flawed, but rather it works just as it was designed to.

“As Palestinian children like Fawzi continue to experience widespread ill-treatment and torture and the systematic denial of due process rights, it is evident the Israeli military detention and court system is not interested in justice,” Parker explained. “What emerges is a system of control that masquerades as justice. The military detention system is not broken, it is working exactly as intended to deny fundamental rights.”

In an al Jazeera report, Fawzi’s lawyer told reporters that the initial judge that saw Fawzi’s case was “stunned at the excessive force” the teen was subjected to.

“He showed up with large slippers from the prison. He had lost his shoes and spoke about the way he was abused while being transferred to prison,” the lawyer told reporters.

“The prosecutors didn’t even say whether the soldiers would be investigated for using excessive force. The whole case so far has been handled with neglect.”

Parker told Mondoweiss it was doubtful that the arresting forces would be charged or held accountable for excessive force, as three out of four Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces report being physically assaulted.

“Israeli forces enjoy near complete impunity for physical violence against Palestinian child detainees. Even in cases where evidence suggests Israeli forces have unlawfully killed a child with live ammunition where the child posed no threat to the soldier there has been no justice or accountability.”

Currently, there are more than 300 Palestinian children being held in Israeli jails, according to Addameer documentation.

In a report released by Addameer on Dec. 17, the group found that at least 350 Palestinians have been detained in the first eleven days following Trump’s announcement, which sparked clashes throughout the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. At least nine of the detained are Palestinian children — though the number could be higher as documentation can be a slow, complicated process.

On  Dec. 16, Israeli forces detained Sultan Ashour, 16, Mahmoud Taha, 15, Muhammad Hamadeh, 14 and Adnan Siyam, 16, in the Old City of Jerusalem. On Dec. 15, Israeli forces arrested 13-year-old Abed al-Kareem Yassien and 15-year-old Muhammad Lutfi Melhem from A’aneen village and 17-year-old Muhmmad Ayman Sherydeh was detained in Tubas. On Thursday Dec. 14, 15-year-old Mutassem Hammas was detained in Ramallah.

On average, between 500-700 Palestinian children are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system each year — with more than 8,000 Palestinian children going through the system since 2000.

After sentencing, nearly 60 percent of children are transferred from the occupied territory to prisons within Israeli proper — a direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

“The practical consequence of this is that many of them receive either limited or no family visits due to freedom of movement restrictions and the time it takes to issue a permit to visit the prisons,” DCIP found.

Because Israel signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, it should be held to international juvenile justice standards, which require that children should only be “deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort,” however international rights groups have found that the detention of Palestinian children by Israeli forces and sentencing through its military court system is widespread and standard practice, even for the smallest of infractions.

Sheren Khalel

Sheren Khalel is a freelance multimedia journalist who works out of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She focuses on human rights, women's issues and the Palestine/Israel conflict. Khalel formerly worked for Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem, and is currently based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sherenk.

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9 Responses

  1. JosephA on December 18, 2017, 10:54 pm

    Hi Sheren,

    Thanks for sharing this sad, disturbing, but not surprising report.

  2. Bumblebye on December 19, 2017, 7:58 am

    16 year old Ahed Tamimi has been arrested:

    “The Israeli occupation forces arrested Palestinian girl Ahed Tamimi 16 years old .

    Israeli Minister said : Ahed must spend her whole life in the prison .
    #FreeAhed .”

    Front page news in one israeli paper. Ahed and her family feature in a number of MW articles.

    • eljay on December 19, 2017, 8:10 am

      || Bumblebye: … 16 year old Ahed Tamimi has been arrested … ||

      Yup, how dare a not-Israeli girl in not-Israel provoke Israeli Occupation and Oppression Forces goons. Luckily the “commander acted professionally by not being dragged into [the use of] violence.” You can’t have Israeli Occupation and Oppression Forces goons being unprofessional while they enforce Israel’s decades-long and on-going occupation and colonization of not-Israel.

      • Talkback on December 19, 2017, 9:08 am

        Let’s be honest. She slapped and kicked two soldiers multiple times. The terrorist wing of the Apartheid Junta has shot Palestinian children dead for less. Let’s wait and read how she was abused in its turture dungeons.

  3. iResistDe4iAm on December 19, 2017, 9:34 am

    Just to clarify

    The conviction rate for Palestinian suspects in Israeli military courts is a whopping 99.74%

    But the conviction rate for Palestinian CHILDREN in Israeli military courts is even higher at a shocking 99.88%

    Of the 853 Palestinian CHILDREN charged in Israeli military courts over a six year period, only ONE (1) child was acquitted:
    – 1 out of 853 children was found to be not guilty and acquitted, after being “held in custody until the end of legal proceedings” (as is common practice).
    – 852 out of 853 children were found to be guilty and were imprisoned/punished accordingly.

    But Wait … Israel actually imprisons far more Palestinians that it convicts.

    How? … When Israel cannot produce “evidence” to convict, it uses Administrative Detention to imprison Palestinians WITHOUT charge or trial (for arbitrary periods that can be renewed indefinitely). To add insult to injury, requests for Administrative Detention were approved at a rate of 98.77% (see first link above).

    The Israeli military court system is either uniquely perfect, or totally corrupt … you be the judge.

    Prisoner Summary as at November 2017:
    Total Palestinian prisoners = 6154
    Child prisoners = 311 (~5.1%)
    Administrative detainees = 453 (~7.4%) includes 9 elected PLC members

  4. Misterioso on December 19, 2017, 10:41 am

    Short, shocking, heartbreaking must watch video:

    “Israel’s war on Palestinian children. The Imprisonment of Palestinian Kids”

    Israel, ever faster and deeper into the abyss of fascism. All so predictable.

  5. Vera Gottlieb on December 19, 2017, 2:59 pm

    Mal rayo los parta. Lightening should strike this odious nation.

  6. Mayhem on December 19, 2017, 9:47 pm

    ” 99.74 percent of all cases brought to Israel’s military court end in a guilty verdict, according to the court’s own internal documentation.”

    Congratulations to the author for linking to a Haaretz article that is more than 6 years old. The statistic is based on a single year of data, which is now seven years old.
    Moreover the explanation for the high conviction rate can be found here.

    “Colonel Hirsch explained that, in the Israeli military system in the West Bank, a defendant who is acquitted is entitled to both damages and attorney’s fees. Such an award, of course, would be paid from the public purse, and would be in addition to the waste of public resources in the form of the prosecutor’s own time spent on a failed prosecution.

    For this reason, IDF prosecutors are extremely careful about which cases they bring, and they only bring indictments in cases in which they have a high chance of success. Colonel Hirsch told CAMERA that during the time that he was in charge of the military prosecutors’ office, his instruction to his prosecutors was, “if you have any doubt, don’t bring an indictment.”

    • Talkback on December 20, 2017, 3:28 pm

      ROFL. What constitutes a “doubt” for a military prosecutor who doesn’t need to prove his case, because military law is different from civilian law? The Palestinan had to proof that she or he was innocent. If he or she couldn’t that creates “no doubt” in the eye of your beloved racist socioopaths.

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