“Recognizing that, in all countries in the world, there are children living in exceptionally difficult conditions, and that such children need special consideration…” – from the Preamble of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
In the past two weeks, CPT has witnessed a significant increase in the targeting of Palestinian children by Israeli occupying forces. From soldiers confiscating their bicycles to chasing them down in the street, the Israeli occupying forces are stripping children of their fundamental right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities.
These are the stories that CPT has documented in Hebron’s Old City, but many more stories of boys and girls remain invisible.
Sunday 19 July – A six-year-old boy was swarmed by the heavily armed Israeli military, forced to empty his pockets, and aggressively interrogated.
Monday 20 July – Israeli soldiers detained and allegedly assaulted 14-year-old Anan, then took him to the police station. The Israeli military then continued to raid the streets of Hebron, detaining young people outside an Internet cafe at 9:30 pm.
Thursday 23 July – Israeli soldiers invaded a Palestinian house in the Old City of Hebron while chasing a Palestinian boy. The soldiers claimed that the boy ran away from them, which made him “suspicious”.
Friday 24 July – Four boys were playing in the street when six Israeli soldiers began charging towards them and yelling. The boys ran home, and the Israeli soldiers followed them into their house. After five minutes of questioning the boys, the soldiers left.
Saturday 25 July – Wasim, 10 years old, was riding his bike with his friends behind a patrol of soldiers. The soldiers told him to go ahead and pass them on his bike, but then blocked CPTers from following. Wasim told CPT that the soldiers slapped his face as they took him towards the gate. Palestinians in the community and CPTers advocated for the release of the boy, but the Israeli soldiers pushed back and took him. Another witness saw the soldiers kicking Wasim as they took him away. They released him ten minutes later.
Tuesday 28 July – Israeli Border Police stopped a Palestinian child who was trying to pass through the military turnstile near the Ibrahimi Mosque. The Border Police opened the gate for him, helped him move his bike, and then looked him in the eye and said, “I confiscated your bike, now leave.” The Border Police then told the child, “You know only walking is allowed here. Next time you will bring a car trying to pass.” After five minutes, another Border Police officer gave the child his bike back and asked him to leave.
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) also reported that a teenage boy was stopped and detained by a group of Israeli soldiers near the Souq in Hebron’s Old City. The reason for his detention was that he had a small box of children’s “pop pop fireworks.” Soldiers detained the boy for thirty minutes and then released him.
Wednesday 30 July – Moath, 16-years-old, was picked off the streets in Hebron by Israeli soldiers who body searched him, zip-tied his hands behind his back, and blindfolded him. CPT asked about the nature of his detention, but received no reason. Soldiers took Moath into custody for identification and released after an hour. Watch the video here.
“States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities…. States Parties shall ensure that no child be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” – from Articles 31 and 37 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
It is not only the fact that the Israeli military oppresses children and violates their human rights that is the outrage, but that it does so with impunity. These incidents did not happen in a corner or a dark alleyway, but in public spaces. CPT is sometimes able to advocate for the rights of children, but despite the presence of human rights observers, there is still a lack of accountability for Israeli occupying forces. It is up to all of us to share these stories, and shift the prevailing narrative towards one of truth and justice.
This summer marks the twentieth year of Christian Peacemaker Team’s presence in Palestine. While that does not seem to be a reason to celebrate, we do feel we should mark the occasion.
Israeli forces have detained 550 Palestinians, including women and children, in the occupied West Bank since the beginning of 2015.
The detainees, who were arrested in the southern city of al-Khalil (Hebron), included seven women and 105 teenagers, Amjad Najjar, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) in al-Khalil, said on Thursday.
The Palestinian official added that 225 of the detainees received sentences through the Israeli practice of the so-called administrative detention, under which Palestinians are kept behind bars without charge or trial for months or even years.
According to Najjar, 78 Palestinian patients “who faced a real life threat as a result of detention” were among the inmates in Israeli jails, where they receive no “medical treatment.”
He noted that Israeli forces treat the Palestinian detainees in a “savage and inhuman way during detention.”
The PPS report pointed out that many of those detained during the six-month period were from the town of Beit Ummar, where over 60 residents, mostly minors, were arrested between January and March.
Earlier reports by the PPS showed that Israel detained 383 Palestinians across the West Bank in December 2014.
Over 7,000 Palestinians are reportedly incarcerated in 17 Israeli prisons and detention camps.
The center stated that 43% of administrative detainees held currently without charge or trial in Israeli jails are from al-Khalil.
As a whole, there are 450 administrative detainees in Israeli jails including four MPs.
The center pointed out that Israeli administrative detention policy mainly targets youth activists, students, MPs, and prisoners’ defenders as an attempt to prevent them from exposing the reported Israeli human rights violations.
STONED BY SETTLERS
Pictured here: A Mexican tourist in Hebron was struck in the head with a rock, thrown from the Beit Romano settlement. The Red Crescent ambulance responded. (30/05/2015)
RESISTANCE STARTS EARLY
Pictured here: A young Palestinian girl looks through the wall of the soldiers. The weekly settler tour restricts freedom of movement for Palestinians in Hebron’s old city. (30/05/2015)
ARMED FOR PRAYER
Pictured here: Despite the heavy military presence to protect them, some Israeli settlers walk to the Sanctuary of the Patriarchs armed with their own machine guns. No civilian is supposed to be allowed in with a weapon, yet every Shabbat armed settlers can be seen on their way to the sanctuary in Hebron. (29/05/2015)
Pictured here: ِAbu Shamsiyeh, a Palestinian resident of Tel Rumeida, is explaining to a CPTer the violent attack he and his family suffered from settlers on Saturday night. Around midnight, settlers set fire to a couch at his front entrance. It took a long time to extinguish the flames. The Israeli police haven’t charged anyone for the crime. The Abu Shamsiyeh family is one of the main targets of settler violence in Tel Rumeida, which almost always goes unpunished. (30/05/2015)
SOLDIERS ON THE ROOF
Pictured here: Israeli soldiers on top of a Palestinian rooftop in the Old City of Hebron. Soldiers also entered one house while providing escort for about 100 settlers and their visitors while they made a tour in the souq (old Market). (30/05/2015)
END OF SCHOOL YEAR
Pictured here: Last week was the end of the school year in Palestine. On the last morning of school, our Kindergarten friends sang for us. These children who are filled with joy, also brought us a lot of joy. (27/05/2015)
KINDNESS AMIDST TENSION
Pictured here: We are greeted with such warmth and kindness every day from this juice vendor in Hebron’s old city. (30/05/2015)
Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Abdul Aziz Duwaik
An Israeli military court has handed down a months-long prison term to the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and ordered him to pay more than a thousand dollars on charges on of delivering a speech at a pro-resistance celebration three years ago.
On Monday, the Ofer Court in northern Israel sentenced Abdul Aziz Duwaik to 12 months in jail and a fine of six thousand Israeli shekels (USD 1,550), Arabic-language Palestinian news agency Safa reported.
The Ahrar Center for Prisoner Studies and Human Rights condemned the verdict, demanding the immediate release of all Palestinian prisoners currently being held at Israeli detention facilities, the 67-year-old PLC speaker in particular.
Fuad al-Khafash, director of the Palestinian non-governmental organization (NGO), said the Tel Aviv regime has targeted the Palestinian parliament ever since the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas scored a landslide victory in Palestinian elections in 2006, preventing Palestinian lawmakers from serving their respective nation.
Khafash named Hassan Yousef, Mohammad al-Natsheh, Hassan al-Bourini, Mohammad Maher, Yousef Bader and Ezam Salhab as some of the Palestinian legislators that Israel holds captive in its jails.
Israeli soldiers abducted Duwaik in the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron) early on June 16, 2014. Palestinian sources said the senior Hamas official was taken away after his house in al-Khalil was stormed.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces have also arrested at least sixteen Palestinians, including a number of teenagers, during separate raids on a number of houses across the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israeli military soldiers raided the town of Silwan, which lies on the edge of East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and al-Quds on Monday, and detained eleven Palestinians.
Israeli forces took away five other Palestinians from the entrance gate of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied West Bank.
In recent months, Israeli forces have frequently raided the houses of Palestinians in the West Bank, arresting dozens of people, who are then transferred to Israeli prisons, where they are kept without any charges.
There have been many reports about the deteriorating health of Palestinian prisoners held inside Israeli jails.
More than 7,000 Palestinians are reportedly held in 17 Israeli prisons and detention camps. Moreover, 540 Palestinians are held without any trial under the so-called administrative detention, which is a sort of imprisonment without trial or charge that allows Israel to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months. The detention order can be renewed for indefinite periods of time.
Baraa Kalaid Madhun in his home
Al Khalil, Occupied Palestine – On the 21st of May, a 16-year old Palestinian, Baraa Kalaid Madhun, was banned from his own home in Al Khalil (Hebron). Armed Israeli soldiers came to his house at 8 pm and told him to step outside. Allegedly stones had been thrown at the military base, which is adjacent to Baraa’s home, and the soldiers were accusing him of this incident.
For four hours the Israeli forces searched the house, whilst Baraa was held at gunpoint outside. They then told him that for the next 30 days, he was not allowed to be in his house between 6 in the evening and 11 in the morning. The logic behind this arrangement is based on the assumption that if during these 30 days no stones were thrown, then Baraa would be found guilty of the initial incident. The soldiers threatened to break his legs if he did not acknowledge these restrictions. Since then, armed Israeli soldiers have been searching his house each night, to see if he is there.
This latest incident is one of many. The family is constantly being harassed by the Israeli occupation forces. Baraa himself has already been arrested six times. During those previous arrests, the soldiers have been very violent, once even fracturing his shoulder.
Four Palestinians and one female German demonstrator shot with live ammunition at “Open Shuhada Street” protest
Israeli military sniper aiming up the road towards the Open Shuhada Street demonstrators
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On February 27 in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces fired live ammunition towards nonviolent protesters participating in the annual Open Shuhada Street demonstration, injuring five including four Palestinian activists, one of them 17 years old, and one German citizen. More were also injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades as soldiers and Border Police blocked the roads leading towards Shuhada Street and attacked the protesters.
Close to a thousand Palestinians, accompanied by Israeli and international supporters, marched towards one of the closed entrances to Shuhada Street carrying flags and signs and chanting. They called for the opening of Shuhada Street, whose closure to Palestinians has become a symbol of Israel’s Apartheid system, and for an end to the occupation. The march was turned back by stun grenades, rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition fired by the Israeli military. Around twenty demonstrators were injured in total; Hebron Hospital reported that at least six were admitted and two required surgery. One Palestinian activist, Hijazi Ebedo, 25, was arrested at the demonstration; all he had been doing was chanting and holding a sign.
Issa Amro, coordinator and co-founder of Youth Against Settlements (YAS) stated: “The protest, which was joined by groups from all over Palestine, marked the twenty-first anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre. Israeli occupying forces shot live ammunition towards peaceful protesters, which is against international law. The Israeli military should be held accountable in international court for their actions.”
“Julia was standing and filming next to me when suddenly she fell to the ground,” stated Leigh, a Canadian activist who was standing next to Julia when she was shot.
Julia, the injured 22-year-old German activist from Berlin, was evacuated to Hebron Hospital where she is being treated for a live gunshot wound which entered and exited her leg. “The brutality of Israeli forces is unbelievable, it seems like they don’t have a limit,” she stated. “In Palestine I have seen Israeli forces shooting tear gas, stun grenades, rubber and live ammunition at any kind of demonstration that is against the occupation. It doesn’t matter for them if it is peaceful or if there are kids attending. Yesterday I saw the army attack children who had been dancing in the street. Two people were shot with live ammunition in Bil’in. They shot me as I was standing and filming. It seems the soldiers just shoot at any one.”
The Open Shuhada Street demonstration marks the anniversary of the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, when right wing extremist settler Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinians while they worshipped in the mosque. Following the massacre, Israeli forces shut down Palestinian businesses on Shuhada Street–once a commercial center–and began to implement the policies which would lead to what is now a total closure of the vast majority of the street to Palestinians. Twenty one years after the massacre, settlers from illegal Israeli settlements use the street freely while Palestinians are assaulted, shot and arrested when they attempt to reach it en masse during the Open Shuhada Street demonstration every year.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On the 24th of February in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces opened fire on dancing Palestinian youth, firing tear gas and throwing stun grenades at group of young children performing a traditional Palestinian dance as a form of protest in front of Shuhada checkpoint.
The fifteen young dancers, Palestinian girls and boys between the ages of six and twelve, gathered to perform dabke, a traditional Palestinian dance. They staged their dance in the open street in Bab Al-Zawiye (in the H1 – officially Palestinian Authority-controlled – part of Hebron) near Shuhada checkpoint, as part of a week of actions planned by Palestinian organizers around the annual Open Shuhada Street campaign. The children began performing under heavy military surveillance, as at least thirteen soldiers occupied roofs surrounding the entrance to the checkpoint.
Even before the demonstration had begun, Israeli forces closed Shuhada checkpoint to Palestinian men, only allowing a few women through. Shuhada checkpoint controls the main access between Bab Al-Zawiye and the the H2 (fully Israeli-controlled) neighborhood of Tel Rumeida. On the H2 side, the checkpoint faces Shuhada street, and soldiers restrict Palestinian access onto the short portion of Shuhada street where they are still allowed to walk.
“As soon as the dancing kids moved closer to the checkpoint, soldiers immediately attacked with two tear gas grenades and two stun grenades,” reported an ISM volunteer who witnessed the incident. “Israeli soldiers fired tear gas even though the children were not throwing stones.”
Jewish State forces prepare to fire on dancing children
After first fleeing the assault, the Palestinian children managed to continue dancing even as around twenty soldiers and eight border police advanced from the checkpoint into Bab Al-Zawiye. Israeli forces threw a dozen stun grenades after a few youth began throwing stones at the checkpoint.
Clashes continued for about an hour and a half, as Israeli soldiers and border police fired even more rounds of tear gas, several additional stun grenades, and eventually rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian youth. Advancing further and further into the commercial center of Bab Al-Zawiye, they ended up shooting into the crowded streets of the city’s market area. Local activists reported that two Palestinians suffered injuries from rubber-coated steel bullets.
February 25 marks the 21-year anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre; in 1994 US-born extremist settler Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinian worshipers inside the Al-Khalil mosque and injured dozens more. In the time following the attack, Israeli authorities initiated a crackdown, not on those occupying the city’s illegal settlements, but on Palestinians. Israel put in place policies, including the closure of Shuhada street, which would eventually lead to Al-Khalil becoming the divided city it is today.
Children in H2, which includes Al-Khalil’s historic Old City and once-thriving market, constantly endure the violence and daily humiliations of Israeli military occupation. Children living in the neighborhoods of H2 are routinely tear gassed on their way to school and face arrest, attack and daily harassment at checkpoints. The Open Shuhada Street actions are a yearly expression of resistance to Israel’s Apartheid system, as Palestinians young and old demand and end to the occupation.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – During the night of the February 22nd, Israeli occupation forces raided two homes belonging to the Edies family, in the Al-Khalil (Hebron) neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida. At least thirty soldiers invaded the homes of Yahya Edies and Saleh Edies at around 2:30 am on Sunday morning. Mhammad Edies, one of Yahya’s sons, reported to ISM volunteers that soldiers threatened his family, telling them “if you don’t open the door in 5 minutes, we will blow it up”.
Israeli soldiers ordered the family of twelve, including five children between 5 months and 12 years old, to gather in one room. One of the family’s sons was unable to follow the soldiers’ orders, since he is disabled and cannot move by himself; only after some discussion was he finally allowed to stay in the room he was in. The family was forced to stay inside that room for about an hour as the soldiers ransacked the house, upending furniture, strewing things all over the floor destroying the family’s belongings.
The soldiers upended furniture and destroyed belongings while the Palestinian family was trapped in one room – photo by Mhammad Edies
Israeli forces prevented ISM volunteers from documenting what was happening, pointing their guns and aiming lasers at them, yelling at and detaining those who attempted to leave their house to photograph the raid.
The following morning, a local a human rights activist reported that Israeli occupation forces had raided around 20 houses in Al-Khalil on that same night of the 21st to the 22nd of February alone.
The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that the current number of Palestinians, held by Israel under Administrative Detention orders without charges or trial, has arrived to 500.
The PPS said the Hebron district, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, witnessed the highest number of arrests and Administrative detention Orders.
It added that twelve administrative detainees, including democratically elected legislators, have been held under such orders for many years.
The detained legislators are Mohammad Jamal Natsha, Hatem Qfeisha, Mohammad Bader, ‘Azzam Salhab, Nayef Rajoub, Basem az-Za’arir, Samir al-Qadi, all from Hebron, in addition to Abdul-Jabbar Foqaha and Hasan Yousef from Ramallah, Mohammad Abu Teir and Ibrahim Abu Salem from Jerusalem, in addition to Abdul-Rahman Zeidan from Tulkarem.
The PPS said 208 of the 500 administrative detainees are from Hebron, including Ahmad Shabana, who spent eighteen years in Israeli prisons, including 13 years under Administrative Detention orders.
His latest arrest was on February 2 2014, and has been held since then; he also participated in the June 2012 61-day hunger strike, along with all Administrative Detainees.
Furthermore, detainee ‘Omar al-Barghouthi, 61 years of age, from the central West Bank city of Ramallah, has been detained since June of last year,
His repeated arrests led to him spending more than 25 years in Israeli prisons, including twelve years under Administrative Detention orders.
Israel “justifies” the use of Administrative Detention by claiming to have “secrets files” against the detainees, that neither the detainees, nor their lawyer can have access to.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On Monday, February 2nd, Palestinian demonstrators faced military violence at the hands of Israeli forces in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron). Protesters gathered in Bab Al-Zawiye, on the H1 (Palestinian administered) side of Shuhada checkpoint, to denounce Israeli president Reuven Rivlin’s visit to the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit Hadassah. Israeli sodliers and border police fired rounds of tear gas and numerous stun grenades, injuring at least two protesters.
The demonstration was organised by local Palestinian organisation Youth Against Settlements against the visit of the Israeli president to the settlement, which is illegal under international law and serves as a frequent source of oppression and violence against local Palestinians. Palestinians claimed their own rights, trampled by the military occupation, in the face of the visit’s attempt to legitimate the settler colonisation. Some signs called for opening the once vibrant and now closed Shuhada street, some for an end to the illegal settlements, some for President Rivlin to be brought before the International Criminal Court.
Around fifty Palestinians began the demonstration outside of Shuhada Checkpoint, holding signs and banners and hanging Palestinian flags on the fence. Israeli forces stopped them from passing through the checkpoint, preventing them from protesting on Shuhada street, near where the president was due to speak. As protesters continued to demonstrate, holding signs, waving flags and chanting for an end to occupation, a group of Israeli soldiers and border police exited the checkpoint and pushed protesters further back. Soldiers also occupied the roofs overlooking Bab Al-Zawiye “I just heard a soldier on a roof say ‘okay, enough’ and five minutes later they started throwing stun grenades and tear gas,” stated an ISM activist. “It was extremely sudden, and very scary.”
Israeli forces targetted Palestinian activists and organizers, hitting many in the legs with stun grenades and tear gas grenades. One man was hit directly with a stun grenade, which detonated right by his leg. “He screamed and fell down, rolling on the ground” one ISM activist recalled. Another man was also hit in the head with a stun grenade after the Israeli forces continued to use potentially lethal force against unarmed Palestinian protesters.
Demonstrators then attempted to continue the protest into the souq (Al-Khalil’s Old City market), but Israeli forces threatened them with stun grenades and prevented them from advancing. The protesters decided to go back after the army launched one stun grenade directly into the group of demonstrators. The protest eventually dispersed in Bab Al-Zawiye, after being targeted by a few more rounds of tear gas grenades.