Palestinian Minors Arrested By «Israel» Suffer Abuse
Mohammed, 14, was with his friends riding horses in a park in al-Quds' [Jerusalem] Old City when the Yassam, a special patrol unit of the "Israeli" police, arrived at the scene.
Sound grenades were fired at the teenagers. One landed near Mohammed's feet. He picked up a rock and threw it in the direction of the notorious riot police, whose excessive force against Palestinians has been well-documented.
Unbeknownst to Mohammed, Yassam had been surveilling him and had also taken photos. Later, on his way back home, the boy was arrested by "Israeli" security forces on Saladin Street. He was handcuffed, taken to an interrogation center, and was questioned without the presence of a lawyer or his parents.
Little did he know then, in mid-September 2016, that his ordeal through the "Israeli" military court system had just began.
"They called me after he was interrogated," Salwa, Mohammed's mother, told al-Jazeera.
"He spent the night in jail and was due in court the next day. He was imprisoned for a further two weeks and in that period he had another court appearance that was postponed four or five times."
More than a year later, Mohammed is still under house arrest.
He is one of the hundreds of Palestinian minors in the occupied territories that are arrested by the "Israeli" authorities on a yearly basis. The most common charge levelled against them is stone throwing, which under "Israeli" military law can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in jail.
A new report published on Wednesday by "Israeli" groups HaMoked and B'tselem details the violations committed by "Israeli" forces against Palestinian minors.
The study, titled "Unprotected: The detention of Palestinian Teenagers in East Jerusalem [al-Quds]", includes 60 affidavits collected from Palestinian teenagers who were arrested by the "Israeli" entity between May 2015 and October 2016.
"What we are dealing with is not a few individual rogue interrogators or prison guards who defy regulations," says the report.
"Rather it is a case of a plain and clear policy followed by the various authorities: the police who carry out the arrests; the IPS (‘Israel' Prison Service) which keeps the boys incarcerated in harsh conditions; and finally, the courts, where judges virtually automatically extend the boys' custodial remand."
According to the report, such behavior is the "primary mode of conduct adopted" by "Israel" "for dealing with boys who are suspected of stone throwing".
It says the abuse includes the unlawful interrogation of a minor without the presence of their guardian or lawyer; not being told of their right to stay silent; and not being informed of their rights to counsel.
Furthermore, "Israeli" law prohibits night interrogations, but 91 percent of the minors who were interviewed for the report said that were arrested at night, when most of them were already asleep or in bed.
The report also says that despite the fact that physical restraints on minors should be used only in exceptional cases and for as short a time as possible, eight out of 10 of those interviewed told the rights groups said they had been handcuffed upon their arrest. A further 70 percent were kept in restraints during interrogation sessions.
"Israeli" authorities, however, have managed to escape accountability because of their caution to make sure the practices remain technically within legal provisions, the groups said.
For example, taking advantage of loopholes in "Israeli" law that allow using violence during interrogation, officers can physically and emotionally harm minors, which more often than not - 83 percent, according to the joint study - results in the minors signing confessions.
Eighty percent of these confessions were in Hebrew, a language the minors did not understand, according to the groups.
"Israel's" policy, the report states, allows authorities to "continue this maltreatment of Palestinian minors while shrouding in a cloak of legality a systematic and well-documented abuse of the fundamental human rights of hundreds of minors ... for decades".
International organizations, including UNICEF, have also in the past highlighted the ill-treatment of Palestinian minors in "Israeli" military detention, which they termed as being "widespread, systematic and institutionalized".
Source: Al-Jazeera, Edited by website team