Shedding Light on the Trauma of Child Detention in the West Bank

22 July 2021

Parents Against Child Detention (who work under the auspices of NIF grantee, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel) have for years published testimonials of Palestinian children in the West Bank who were subject to violent and traumatizing arrests and detention. But now, with the help of a group of prominent animators, they are bringing these stories to a wider audience.

Nirith Ben-Horin, a social worker and the founder and chair of Parents Against Child Detention, and director general, Moriya Shlomot, met with designer Lahav Halevy several months ago. “We deliberated how we could convey the detentions in a more experiential form to move the readers and spectators,” Ben-Horin explained.

They approached animator Ruth Gwili, Orit Bergman, and Merav Dekel-Salomon, as well as designers Li Adar and Tamar Honigman. Together, they compiled a list of animators who created the animation series dubbed “A Nightmare in Eight Stages”. The animations illustrate the stages of child detention, with each stage depicted by a prominent animator.

Ben-Horin says the drawings are meant to shed light on a phenomenon most Israelis are not aware of or repress. “Thousands of minors – teenagers and children – are detained by Israeli forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem every year. Our figures show they amount to some 5,000 detentions every year. Other organizations report hundreds per month. Whatever the exact numbers are, we are talking about a ‘daily business’. Every night, when we, Israelis, sleep in our beds, houses in the West Bank are being broken into with children forced out of their beds.”

Shee adds, “Images are very powerful because they are so immediate. Reading takes time, attention, and concentration, especially in our information-laden times. A strong image achieves the result immediately.”

The animations are posted on Facebook and Instagram. So far, they have been viewed by hundreds of thousands of Israelis. Ben-Horin laid out the scope of the campaign:

“Every month, we focus on one stage of the eight main stages of the detention process. Each stage violates basic human rights, starting with detention, separating the child from the parents, denial of ability to consult a lawyer, the investigation, and the trial. On top of the animations, we publicize statistics on the scope of the problem along with testimonials of Palestinian children who were detained or their parents describing the harsh, traumatizing and dehumanizing practice they have been subjected to.”

The group is planning to hold an exhibition of the works after the High Holidays.