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Newly released today, Defence for Children International-Palestine Section (DCI) has produced this short film about Israel’s ill-treatment of Palestinian children during their arrest, transfer and detention. Alone: Palestinian Children in the Israeli Military Detention System contains images of children who found the courage to talk about the appalling treatment.
For example, 14-year-old Ala tells how he was handcuffed and blindfolded during his arrest. “They [Israeli soldiers] put me in the jeep and transferred me to Etzion interrogation center. The interrogator told me to say goodbye to my friend Muhannad, because he was going to throw me from the third floor. No one was there to protect me. No one was with me. I was alone.”
Since 2000, around 7,500 Palestinian children from the occupied Palestinian territories have been detained, interrogated and imprisoned within the Israeli military law system. The film also presents basic information and the impact of their arrest and detention on families.
When 13-year-old Muhannad talks about his arrest, the look in his eyes is heart breaking. His father saw how Israeli soldiers treated his son, “It was as if they were coming to arrest a combatant or an armed fugitive.”
Interrogations are set up to terrorize
In 75 precent of the cases documented by DCI, child detainees suffered some form of physical violence during arrest, transfer and interrogation.
The suffering starts the moment a child is arrested and continues throughout interrogation and court sessions, explains DCI lawyer Iyad Misk. Children are often physically, verbally abused, insulted by soldiers during transport in the jeep. The abuse continues during the interrogation.
Children are also often enticed with offers of immediate release in exchange for confessions. However, what normally happens is just the opposite. Once a child confesses, he is sent to prison and his file is sent to the court. Interrogations are set up to terrorize, says Misk.
Nader Abu Amsha of the East Jerusalem YMCA Rehabilitation Programme says that the purpose of the raids, arrests and interrogations is more than getting information. It is to break the will and spirit of a generation. The purpose is to break the children and make them live in fear and confusion so they become an inactive, unproductive generation.
DCI’s latest film is an excellent tool to inform a wide audience about the ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system. The film can watched on YouTube, or copies of the DVD can be ordered from DCI-Palestine.