Highlighting Victims of Child Detention

24 November 2020

NIF grantees held a testimony reading event last week to highlight the Israeli military’s routine practice of detaining Palestinian children in the West Bank. During the event, staged by NIF grantees Breaking the Silence, Yesh Din: Volunteers for Human Rights, and Parents Against Child Detention, Palestinian minors gave testimony about their treatment.

Over the years of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, the Israeli military has detained thousands of minors for participating in riots and throwing stones.

One 15 year-old from Bili’in, a Palestinian village west of Ramallah, said, “During Ramadan I went to the store to buy food at 2:30am. Suddenly an army jeep pulled up with my father inside and he told me that the soldiers had come to our house to look for me. I got into the jeep and a soldier blindfolded and handcuffed me. They hit me in the back with their rifles and cursed me. They called me a whore and the brother of a whore.”

“I got to the Binyamin police station at four in the morning. They put me in a room by myself until my interrogation began at 9am. I couldn’t sleep. In the interrogation they showed me images of a demonstration in the village and accused me of throwing stones. When I denied even being at the demonstration, the interrogator banged his hands on the table and two glasses fell to the floor and smashed. He said that the pictures incriminate me and I would spend a long time in prison but if I admitted it the court might decide to release me. I believed him and confessed. They gave me documents to sign in Hebrew and refused to tell me what it meant. I signed. I was released three weeks later and my parents paid $1,500 bail.”

Other Palestinian teenagers told similar stories. Between 2017-2019, five thousand children aged 12-18 from the West Bank and East Jerusalem were arrested by the Israeli military and tried in military courts, including dozens of children under the age of 13.

Tarik Shatiwi was arrested at the age of 13. His father said, “The interrogation, which involved violence, has significantly affected him. The arrest of my son has influenced his studies, his behavior and a thousand other things. Think what it’s like for a kid when people in uniform come to arrest him, blindfold him and put him in a room by himself.

Nadav Weiman, head of education at Breaking the Silence and a former IDF combat soldier, said that such actions were routine.