By Stephen Lendman
Defence for Children International (DCI) Palestine Section (DCI/Palestine) "is a national section of the international non-government child rights organisation and movement (dedicated) to promoting and protecting the rights of Palestinian children," according to international law principles.
Both covered Israel’s systematic, institutionalized use of torture of Palestinian children as brutally as against adults. DCI/Palestine’s latest September Bulletin adds more, saying:
"For the first time….three (documented) cases of children reporting being given electric shocks by Israeli interrogators (occurred) in Ari’el Settlement." Each was accused of stone throwing. Electric shocking extracted confessions although the boys maintain their innocence.
DCI and PACTI (the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel) demanded Israel investigate reports that a Gush Etzion settlement interrogator "attached car battery jump leads to the genitals of a 14-year old boy in order to obtain a confession to stone throwing."
The August 5 incident involved four boys walking near a road used by settlers when an Israeli jeep approached. "Just for fun," one boy waved. The jeep turned, was joined by others, and chased the boys. They were seized, blindfolded, painfully shackled, detained, and taken to the Zufin settlement, then to the Ari’el settlement where one boy, Raed, was interrogated.
Though innocent, "Threat of electrocution" made him confess to stone throwing, after which his head was slammed against a cupboard. He was also punched in the stomach, and a second interrogator shocked him with a handheld device, making him dizzy and shiver. He then signed a confession in Hebrew he couldn’t understand, was transferred to Salem Interrogation and Detention Center, after which he was taken to Megiddo Prison, in violation of Fourth Geneva’s Article 76, pertaining to the rights assured protected persons detained under occupation.
A second incident involved a 17-year old boy, Malek, falsely accused of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. About 30 soldiers arrested and brutalized him like Raed before transferring him to Ofer Prison. On arrival, he was painfully struck on the head, then interrogated and threatened with physical violence and rape if he didn’t confess. "He denied both accusations" during a two hour interrogation.
On September 15, 13-year old Khalil was arrested and accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail. At 1AM, Israeli soldiers smashed windows of his family’s home, searched it, and took him to Ma’ale Adumin settlement. Though innocent, he was threatened with rape and intimidated to confess. He signed a six page document in Hebrew he didn’t understand and has been detained at Ofer prison.
An earlier incident involved 16 year old Moatasem, arrested on March 20. He remains in administrative detention without charge or trial, at best hoping for a December release. Like the others, from arrest to detention, he was brutalized. During interrogation, he was asked about a plot involving a riot, bullets and weapons with no further explanation, something he knew nothing about and said so. On March 25, he was ordered administratively held for six months, then extended three more on September 26.
On average, from January 2008 – September 2010, Israel held over 300 Palestinian children captive, about 10% of them aged 12 – 15. Usually when complaints or requests for investigations into child arrests and mistreatment are submitted to the Judge Advocate General’s Office (JAG), responses aren’t forthcoming or issued raised are denied.
Shooting Children Collecting Building Gravel
Separately, DCI/Palestine reported on 12 incidents from May 22 – October 14, 2010, involving children aged 13 – 17, collecting gravel near Gaza’s border fence with Israel. Under siege, Israel banned construction materials, forcing hundreds of men and boys to scavenge for what they can find, collecting gravel, placing it in sacks, loading it on donkeys, then selling it to builders for concrete.
In border watch towers, Israeli soldiers at times shoot and kill donkeys. They also target workers, usually shooting at their legs. In recent DCI/Palestine-documented cases, children reported being shot while working from 50 – 800 meters from the border.
In addition, a UN January 2009 – August 2010 study reported at least 22 Gazan civilians killed and 146 injured by live fire adjacent to Israel’s border, including 27 children.
Of DCI’s 12 documented cases, nine "were on, or outside the 300 metre exclusion zone unilaterally imposed by the Israeli army when they were shot." Under all circumstances with no exceptions, international law prohibits targeting noncombatant civilians. Israel, of course, flouts all international laws with impunity.
On November 10 and 11, DCI/Palestine in cooperation with DCI’s International Executive Council and DCI International Secretariat, Geneva, will conduct an International Children’s Conference titled, "Protective Environment – Active Participation," under the motto – "Together We Build and Change."
DCI explains that "Child participation is one of the four basic principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child." Under occupation, involving them is especially important to address their collective needs, interests, and concerns. The upcoming conference thus encourages children to participate and facilitates it "by finding the spaces for them to carry it out."
– Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org and visit his blog at: sjlendman.blogspot.com.