Child Prisoners

It is a very common experience under Israeli occupation for young boys to be arrested. Often people feel that the army provoke trouble, for example making a heavy presence around Abu Dis Boys’ School and Abu Dis Youth Club. Sometimes boys throw stones but often they and their families are sure they have not done anything at all. Usually when arrested they are eventually forced to sign a confession to throwing stones or molotovs (note people in Abu Dis say that if the number of molotovs confessed to were true, it would be raining molotovs – but there are not often molotovs in Abu Dis).

When a boy is arrested, this usually happens in the middle of the night, and Israeli jeeps with a number of soldiers enter a house and search it. There are different patterns of course, but this is often typical: the boy is usually taken in an army jeep to the police station in Maale Adumim settlement for interrogation. He can be kept there for a couple of days, though sometimes he is then taken to the interrogation centre at Atzion settlement near Bethlehem.

The boy stays under interrogation until he signs a confession. Very often he is treated very badly, sometimes physically beaten, often taunted and provoked. This continues until he signs a confession, which is written in Hebrew (which is not his language and the boys don’t understand it). Sometimes boys have been forced to sign blank pages.

Then the boy is usually taken to an Israeli prison, very often the tents in Section 8 of Orfar Prison in the settlement of Orfar, on the land of Beitunia near Ramallah. Recently the prison management have put children into Section 8 but they do not have proper supervision – they have a very difficult time there. They stay there until they have their charge agreed, and this is through a process of plea bargaining between a solicitor and the military authorities. Court appearances are often delayed in the process of the plea bargaining.

Eventually the boy will be sentenced, and he will typically get a period in prison plus a fine. Non-payment of the fine may increase the sentence. It is worth noting that the system for Palestinians is a military system and the sentence also depends on the whim of military judges.

There are many issues for prisoners – the conditions inside of course, whether their families can visit them, whether their families can contact them, medical care if it is needed, and whether, if medical care is needed, families are informed. We are collecting some of the stories of prisoners on our website.

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