160 Palestinian minors in Israeli prisons

From 2015 to last March, security forces arrested more than 9 thousand children under 18. That's 19 thousand since the outbreak of the second intifada. Activist group denounces abuse, violations and mistreatment of young detainees. The symbolic story of Ahmad Manasra, arrested at the age of 13 for a knife attack. 



Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - More than 9 thousand Palestinian minors arrested and detained by Israeli security forces between 2015 and the end of March 2022; of these, at least 1300 were detained last year, an increase of 140% compared to 2020 taking into account, however, the restrictions imposed to contain the Covid-19 pandemic that have limited - by a lot - activities and movements.

Extending the period under examination to the outbreak of the second intifada (the al-Aqsa uprising of September 2000), about 19,000 young Palestinians were arrested, including children under 10 years of age. 

The numbers are contained in the report published in recent days by the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, on the occasion of the Palestinian Day for Children celebrated on April 5. The study shows that, to date, there are 160 Palestinian minors detained in the prisons of Ofer, Damon and Megiddo.

The activists add that detention is a customary practice of the Israeli security forces, which exploit rules of the British mandate that fall under the guise of administrative detention, with indefinite detentions without a trial and without the formulation of specific charges. 

The largest number of minors detained are from East Jerusalem, but there are from different parts of the West Bank. Arrests have accelerated since 2015, following amendments to the Children's Law that lowered the age at which there is criminal responsibility from 14 to the current 12. However, even earlier between the first (1987) and second intifada, arrests were not uncommon even among the youngest children.

Ra'fat Hamdouna, director of the Palestinian Prisoners' Centre for Studies, accuses the Israeli authorities of committing dozens of violations of the rights of children in detention, including psychological and physical torture, threats, abuse and intimidation, even with the use of dogs. Authorities would resort to deception, false promises and cruelty. Minors are then tried in military courts with unjust laws, are subjected to fines, isolation, use of force and harassing searches. And they sign "confessions" in Hebrew, a language they do not understand, testifying to unfair trials that fall far short of international standards.

Among the many stories of hard imprisonment for juveniles, the group recalls the case of Ahmad Manasra, defined as an "example" of cruelty and injustice and for which thousands of young Palestinians took to the streets to demonstrate in recent days. The arrest dates back to 2015 when he was only 13 years old, then convicted of carrying out a knife attack in the settlement of Psgat Ze'ev, in East Jerusalem.

In prison, he suffered extremely harsh and continuous  psychological and physical punishments, as well as social including a ban on visiting his family and blocking communication with his parents and siblings, in addition to long periods of solitary confinement. In spite of his progressively deteriorating health, the Israeli judges rejected his requests for a reduction of his sentence and denied him medical and psychological treatment in specialized centers outside the prison.