Israel has not only been detaining Palestinian minors over stone throwing and Facebook posts, the occupying force in Palestine has also been torturing most of those Palestinian children including beatings and sexual assaults, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said Tuesday.
Luay Ukka, who works as a lawyer with the Palestinian committee, issued a statement after he visited the Israeli Ofer prison, where he said the number of Palestinian children had increased to 28 since last month, with 14 of them under 14 years of age.
“The overwhelming majority” of juvenile prisoners held at Ofer have been 'tortured, beaten, and humiliated' during the raids carried out by Israeli forces to detain them as well as during their interrogation," Ukka said according to a report by the Palestinian news agency Ma’an.
The news comes a day after the Palestine branch of rights group Defense for Children International said Israel has been detaining Palestinian children over Facebook posts it deems as “incitement,” while at least 19 of those minors have been kept in prison for months without any charges or trial under a policy known as “administrative detention."
The group said most of the children are interrogated and questioned by Israeli police and investigators for hours without any legal representation or a parent present. Before the beginning of the new wave of unrest last October, Israel had reportedly not used indefinite detention against Palestinian minors since December 2011.
Tamir Abu Salem, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy from Aida refugee camp in the West Bank who was arrested last year by Israeli forces, told Ukka that soldiers shot him in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet before he was taken into custody when he was also punched in the face.
Tamir said the bullet fractured his skull. "When I breathe part of my scalp puffs up and down," he added.
Ukka said most of the Palestinian minors currently in Israeli prisons are from Aida camp and the town of al-Ubeidiya, both in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem.
Last week, undercover Israeli forces detained eight Palestinian children from Aida, as residents of the camp have recently been subject to an intensification of violent military raids.
Prisoners’ rights groups Addameer says a total of 340 Palestinian minors are currently imprisoned by Israel as political prisoners. The group says that the interrogation of those children could last up to three months.
In addition to being beaten and attacked, Addameer has documented cases of sexual assault and placement in solitary confinement to elicit confessions. Confession documents they are forced to sign are in Hebrew, which is a language most Palestinian children do not speak.
In its report Monday, Defense for Children International highlighted that “Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts each year that lack fundamental fair trial rights.”
Despite these policies being part of the legal code of the country that should presumably apply to all of Israel and the occupied territories, Israelis seem to be spared from such laws by the police and army.
Israeli Jews and settlers, as well as government officials and politicians, have repeatedly and publicly incited violence against Arab and Palestinian men, women and children. Very few extremist members within the illegal Jewish settler community have been penalized over their calls for violence, or indeed the carrying out of such violence.