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.