Monday, April 22

Testimonies from Palestinian children imprisoned by Israel

Here is an article published by the Israeli electronic magazine +972 on the treatment of Palestinian children who are imprisoned by Israel. Of interest for Palestinian refugee claims and for Israeli conscientious objectors. 
 Ed Corrigan

Detained: Testimonies from Palestinian children imprisoned by Israel

‘Detained: Testimonies from Palestinian Children Imprisoned by Israel’                                                    uncovers one of the most painful experiences that Palestinian children                                                                      endure in the ongoing Israeli occupation. Through interviews with                                                                                 ex-detainees and mothers of minors presently in detention, the                                                                                  project documents their stories and aims to lend a voice to those                                                                                                         who are silenced from fear of negative repercussions.
Text and photos by: Samar Hazboun
Over the past 11 years, according to Defence for Children International,                                                                          some 7,500 children have been detained in Israeli prisons and detention                                                             facilities. Muhammad Daoud Dirbas, at the age of six, was the youngest child to have                                                              been detained by Israeli soldiers. Such practices are considered illegal under                                                         international law, as are other policies that children are subjected to,                                                                                            such as solitary confinement.
I started working on “Detained” about one year ago, because of the lack                                                                                                                     of visual documentation on the subject. I contacted some human rights                                                                                                       organizations, which put me in contact with a few children.                                                                                                 Unfortunately, those children refused to be interviewed; having been                                                                                      contacted several times by journalists, they were afraid of repercussions.                                                                                                    I then decided to contact people I knew from Palestinian cities like Nablus                                                                                          and Hebron where child detention is most prevalent. Through these friends,                                                                                                          I was able to find and contact additional children. Sadly, it was quite easy                                                                                           to find them since it is such a common phenomenon.
In most cases, I found children who suffer from various traumas. Some were                                                                                            not able to talk about what had happened in prison; others burst into tears,                                                                                                 and it was sometimes hard for me to hold my own tears back as I was                                                                                     conducting the interviews. Many children agreed to talk to me “off the record”;                                                                                      I thus know their stories but was not able to officially interview them or take their                                                                                                 pictures. In some cases, I was able to talk to the parents once the child left the room,                                                                              and thus obtained more detailed information about how the children were dealing                                                                                    with what had happened to them.
In many cases, the children suffer from insomnia, involuntary urination,                                                                                               nightmares, depression, and fear of going out and facing people. “It is a very humiliating                                                                   experience for my son. I pray everyday that he forgets about what had happened to him.                                                                     We avoid talking about it at home because I want him to forget and this is                                                                                                 why we prefer not to have journalists in the house,” one mother told me.
All the children I interviewed decided not to take further legal action, out of                                                                                     fear of the repercussions of doing so, and the lack of belief that                                                                                                                        they will be guaranteed protection.
The following photographs and texts present the stories of the children                                                                                             as they and their families told them to me. It was not possible to independently                                                                                  corroborate all of the facts told by the children and their families.                                                                                                      These are their stories, in their words.
Dates, names and places have been changed in                                                                                                                           order to protect the children’s identities.
Detainee 1: Z.S., 17 years old
Detained 1, Z.S., 17 years old
(Based on an interview with Z.S) 
The house of Z.S. was attacked on a Thursday night at around 2 a.m. with stun                                                                       grenades and tear gas. Six soldiers broke into his family house and arrested him.                                                                       The soldiers dragged him to a neighboring settlement 1 kilometer away.                                                                                    During the walk, he was beaten and sworn at by the soldiers.                                                                                                             He was left outside in the cold, blindfolded, for two hours.
During the interrogation, he was asked whether he wished to be treated                                                                                                      like an animal or a human being. He responded, “like a human being.”                                                                                                    He was handcuffed and blindfolded, as the interrogator electrically shocked                                                                                         him several times. He then grabbed his head and banged it against the wall until a                                                                                 second interrogator came in. The interrogator asked him to lie on the ground,                                                                                  and started to kick him until he lost consciousness.
Z.S. was released that same day. He has not filed any complaints                                                                                                                           for fear of the repercussions of doing so.
Detainee 2: O.T., 10 years old
Detainee 2: O.T., 10 years old
(Based on an interview with O.T. and his family)
O.T. was walking home one evening after playing football. He was followed by                                                                                              an IDF jeep and arrested. He was accused of throwing stones at the jeep.                                                                                  During the interrogation, O.T. was shown a video footage of children                                                                                                       throwing stones at soldiers and he was forced to admit that he was amongst them.
He had to sign a document stating that he would pay a fine of NIS 3,000 ($800)                                                                                       if he were “seen” throwing stones again.
Detainee 3: L.R., 8 years old
Detainee 3: L.R., 8 years old
(Based on an interview with L.R. and his family)
L.R. was attacked by a group of soldiers as he was playing with his cousin in                                                                                     his neighborhood. He was dragged by two soldiers by his hands and legs and                                                                                   thrown on the ground. His father and aunt ran quickly towards him as they witnessed                                                                    this incident. His aunt was shot by a rubber bullet in her leg and his father                                                                                                 was pushed to the ground by the soldiers. L.R. was then dragged into                                                                                                        the IDF jeep and taken away.
The little boy was interrogated for three hours in the presence of his mother.                                                                           Since the incident, L.R. suffers from insomnia, involuntary urination and                                                                                               fear of stepping out of the family house.
Detainee 4: O.S., 17 years old
Detainee 4: O.S., 17 years old
(Based on an interview with O.S.)
O.S. was arrested twice for allegedly throwing stones at settlers. The first time,                                                                                   he was released for lack of evidence. The second time O.S. was arrested,                                                                                         he was beaten during the interrogation. The interrogator repeatedly                                                                                      smashed his head against the wall until blood ran from his nose.                                                                                                  The court ruled he should be placed under house arrest for two                                                                                                 months and pay a fine of NIS 1,000 NIS ($250).
During his court session, O.S. was handcuffed and not allowed to use                                                                                                     the toilet or drink any liquids. O.S. is not allowed to travel outside Jerusalem.                                                                                                   He is interrogated every time he passes a checkpoint.
Detainee 5: M.K., 18 years old
Detainee 5: M.K., 18 years old
(Based on an interview with M.K)
M.K. was accused of belonging to a militant group. He was arrested from his family                                                                   home and held in prison for 18 months. The youth spent 45 days of the 18 months                                                                               in solitary confinement with his legs and hands tied together. Various methods of                                                                     torture were used on him, including sleep deprivation and emotional blackmail.
When M.K. was moved out of solitary confinement, he endured group                                                                                                    punishment. He was not allowed any visits during that period, nor was he                                                                                           allowed access to the prison canteen.
During the raid to arrest M.K., his house was attacked by tear gas                                                                                              and stun grenades. As a result, his neighbor’s daughter lost hearing in one ear.
M.K. is not allowed to leave the city of Nablus for the next six years.
Detainee 6: I.B., 16 years old
Detainee 6: I.B., 16 years old
(Based on an interview with I.B.)
I.B.’s cousin was shot dead at an Israeli checkpoint in Nablus at the age of 15.                                                                             The soldiers suspected he was wearing an explosives belt because of a wire                                                                   connected to his ear. It later transpired that it was a mobile phone earpiece.
In order to commemorate his cousin, I.B. decided to print posters of his cousin                                                                              and paste them on the walls of his neighborhood. This was considered                                                                                                     a crime by the IDF.
I.B. spent four days in prison and 18 days in a solitary confinement cell.                                                                                                      He was not able to finish his studies after his imprisonment.
Detainee 7: Z.B., 17 years old at the time of his arrest
Detainee 7: Z.B., 17 years old at the time of his arrest
(Based on an interview with Z.B.’s mother, pictured above)
Z.B.’s family was asked by soldiers to immediately evacuate their house with no                                                                                      prior notice. During the raid on his house, all of the family’s furniture                                                                                             was broken into pieces.
When the soldiers finished raiding the house, one soldier twisted his arms                                                                                            while the second blindfolded him. He and his cousin were arrested.                                                                                                     They were accused of belonging to a Hamas group.
Z.B. has been in prison for nine years now. He is not allowed any family visits.
Detainee 8: N.A., 18 years old
Detainee 8: N.A., 18 years old
(Based on an interview with N.A.)
N.A. was arrested during a night raid on his house. He was blindfolded and                                                                                                  taken to a detention center in Petah Tikva. He was put in a small cell with no                                                                         windows except a small hole in the ceiling. He was held there for four                                                                                                         days before he was interrogated.
During the interrogation, he was sat handcuffed on a chair under what he                                                                                            describes as an air-conditioner that was used to drastically increase or                                                                                  decrease the temperature.
After spending 35 days in solitary confinement N.A. decided to admit                                                                                                      to something he had not done in order to be taken for trial.
He recalls a prisoner in a neighboring cell setting himself and                                                                                                        his mattress on fire as he was given a cigarette.
As an ex-detainee, N.A. says he finds it hard to find a decent job                                                                                                                          or live a “normal” life.
Detainee 9: U.D., 10 years old
Detainee 9: U.D., 10 years old
(Based on an interview with U.D. and his family)
U.D. found himself accidentally caught in clashes between a group of                                                                                              Jerusalem locals and IDF soldiers as he was walking home with his cousin                                                                                       from a football game. To avoid the clashes, he started running in the opposite                                                                       direction but a soldier spotted him and ran after him. Once the soldier caught him,                                                                                         he was pushed to the floor, kicked and punched several times.
U.D. was taken to a detention center where he was held for five hours.
Detainee 10: M.O., 12 years old
Detainee 10: M.O., 12 years old
(Based on an interview with M.O. and his family)
M.O. has been detained seven times so far. The first time, he was arrested                                                                                          at the age of only nine years for allegedly throwing stones at settlers.
M.O.’s family is constantly targeted by settler attacks as they live in Hay al                                                                         Bustan in Silwan. Their house is slated for demolition as a part of an Israeli                                                                                 plan targeting the homes Arab citizens in Jerusalem.
Settler attacks are very common in that area. M.O. was attacked by                                                                                       settlers and beaten up. He suffered from internal bleeding due to the                                                                                                      brutality of the attack.
Detainee 11: F.K., 14 years old
Detainee 11: F.K., 14 years old
(Based on an interview with F.K. and his family)
The first time F.K. was arrested, he was detained for three days. His parents were                                                                    not provided any information until the third day. The second time he was arrested                                                                                      was during his final exam period, when he was taken out of his house for allegedly                                                                               throwing Molotov cocktails. He was undressed and left standing in his underwear for                                                                          two hours before he was taken for an interrogation at 3 a.m. He was put in a                                                                                                cell afterwards, until the next day.
During the interrogation, two soldiers with bats were brought into the room,                                                                                  with which they hit him all over his body, he says.
F.K. does not want to recall the words the interrogator used whilst                                                                                                             questioning him. He says the language was beyond humiliating.
Detainee 12: M.A., 13 years old
Detainee 12: M.A., 13 years old
(Based on an interview with M.A. and his family)
On December 5, 2010 M.A. was arrested at 2 a.m. from his family house.                                                                                      He was accused of damaging settler cars and throwing stones in Al-Ram,                                                                                              according to the Israeli charges.
M.A. lives in Hebron and told the military court that he did not know where Al-Ram was.                                                                      The judge later declared that the initial report had a spelling mistake,                                                                                                                      as Al-Ram was mistakenly written instead of Hebron.
When M.A. was arrested, he was severely beaten. As a result of the torture he underwent                                                                during his time in detention, his trial had to be postponed because of the                                                                                                      visible bruises on his head and body.
The child was not allowed any visits during his detention. The court ruled to                                                                             release him on bail of NIS 5,000 ($1,300), in addition to placing him under house arrest.
Detainee 13: Y.K., 15 years old
Detainee 13: Y.K., 15 years old
(Based on an interview with Y.K.’s family)
On January 28, 2011 Y.K. went with his father to the fields of the farm they                                                                                own, which is located next to an Israeli settlement. The family                                                                                                                      was attacked that day by armed settlers who shot Y.K. in the head. He later died.
His younger brother, 14, was arrested and detained for 45 days.
Detainee 14: B.A., 15 years old
Detainee 14: B.A., 15 years old
(Based on an interview with B.A.’s mother)
In 2011, B.A. was arrested for the first time. Shortly after his release, he fell ill                                                                                    and was hospitalized. During his stay at the hospital, the IDF went to his house                                                                                 to arrest him, as he was on a wanted list. When they did not find him, they                                                                                          arrested his brother instead.
The soldiers offered to release his brother in exchange for B.A., threatening to raid                                                                       the hospital. The ”exchange” operation took place at 6 a.m. and was filmed with                                                                                 the presence of medical staff.
B.A. is in detention and has attended eight court hearings for participating                                                                                                           in a peaceful protest against the occupation. Under Israeli military law, all                                                                              Palestinian protests are illegal.
He is not allowed any family visits.
Documentary photographer and visual artist Samar Hazboun centers                                                                                          her main body of work around women’s rights, with a particular focus on the                                                                                     Middle East. Born in Jerusalem and raised in the West Bank, Hazboun first                                                                          explored photography while pursuing a degree in International Relations in                                                                            Prague. Over the past eight years, her authentic interest in political expression                                                                               through art and her personal relationship with the Palestinian case has led her to                                                            successfully fuse subject matter and medium into a budding practice of photojournalism.                                                      Hazboun’s career has developed hand-in-hand with her ability to reach out to those who have                                                                                              been marginalized by society. With more than 30 solo shows and group exhibitions in                                                               over eight countries, and a wide variety of features in the media, she has persistently                                                             sought to give a voice to her projects and engage an ever-broadening public with                                                                                 stories desperately in need of an audience. Since receiving her MA in                                                                          Photojournalism from the University of Westminster in London in 2011,                                                                                   Hazboun has been working on a series of exhibitions of her latest ongoing                                                                                    body of work, Hush. She currently splits her time living and working in Europe,                                                                            Latin America and Palestine. Visit her website (                                                                                               
and follow her on Twitter (@Samar_Hazboun).
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