Sonia Nettnin: The Child Prisoners Of Palestine
DCI Palestine: Free Child Political Prisoners
By Sonia Nettnin
Palestinian-child-prisoners have almost no attention by the media. The Palestine Monitor reports that over 2,000 children have been arrested since the second Intifada and around 350 children are incarcerated in Israeli detention centers and prisons.
Israeli Defense Forces have tortured most of these children. The Defense for Children International/Palestine Section ( http://www.dci-pal.org/), a non-governmental organization that works for the protection of Palestinian children’s rights, explains on their web site that “…most common methods include beatings, verbal threats and abuse, being doused repeatedly with hot and cold water, sleep deprivation, and being forced to sit or stand in contorted and uncomfortable positions for long periods of time. Most children will be placed in isolation cells - tiny, dirty rooms with very little light and no human contact.”
As a result of these abuses, the DCI/PS established the Campaign to Free Palestinian Child Political Prisoners. The campaign’s primary mission is for the release of child political prisoners. Moreover, it exposes the abuses endured by these children upon their arrest. Through awareness, the international community learns more about the effects of the occupation on Palestinian children and encourages international involvement. U.S. citizens can read the DCI/PS web site and see how Israel uses U.S. taxpayer dollars.
Money spent on the Israeli Defense Forces and Israeli Prisons Authority employs soldiers who arrest Palestinian youth. According to the DCI/PS web site, “…many of the children featured on adopt-a-prisoner are charged with more serious offences, carrying longer prison terms. However, it remains the fact that most Palestinian children are detained for stone-throwing and other minor charges which carry shorter sentences.”
Then the soldiers make examples out of these youth. If children are not arrested at the alleged scene of a crime, the IDF has a history of seizing children from their homes in the middle of the night. After torture and violence, many children (who read and write in Arabic), are coerced into signing confessions detailed in Hebrew. Their cases are tried in the Israeli Military Court. Families may be restricted from prison visitations for long periods of time.
“I haven't seen any of my family since I was arrested," one child prisoner said. It had been months since the time of her arrest.
These rights violations demonstrate that one of Israel’s strategies against Palestinian resistance is through the torture and imprisonment of children.
The DCI/PS details their accounts. Read about the girl who was “…tied up, beaten, cursed and spat on by Jewish settlers…” for four days (in a Jewish religious school). She receives no medical treatment for her permanent injuries.
During one interrogation, a boy was threatened with violence if he did not confess to throwing Moltov cocktails and stones. While in his first-prison-stay, he did not have sufficient clothing.
At an Israeli checkpoint, another girl was shot in the stomach and in the leg by soldiers. She is accused for the attempted stabbing of a soldier. After the removal of part of her intestines in a second operation, her hands and feet were shackled to the hospital bed. During her hospital stay, four soldiers guarded her and harassed her. When she had to use the toilet they tied her – they said she might escape.
These briefings are a few examples of what happens to these children after their arrest. The campaign asks for community support. The DCI/PS web site lists government and media contacts, as well as talking points for child advocates.
This campaign provides people an opportunity. Participation in the campaign can make a difference for these child political prisoners.