Palestinian minors tortured, abused in Israel prisons

Palestinian minors in Israeli jails say they have been subjected to different types of torture, including physical and psychological abuse, by Israeli officials during detention and interrogation, a rights body reports.

On Saturday, Hiba Masalha, a lawyer from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs (PCPA), released a report complied based on testimonies of a number of Palestinian teens in Israeli custody.

The report highlights the ordeals of 15-year-old Muhammad Abdul-Hafith Atiyeh, who was arrested on April 19, when Israeli military forces broke into his family house in the Issawiya neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.

“After Israeli soldiers handcuffed and took me outside my home, they violently beat me with their hands, clubs and rifle butts. They kicked me in the head, back, and abdomen,” Atiyeh said.

He added that he was then shoved head down inside a military jeep between two Israeli soldiers. “They slapped me in the face whenever I moved,” the Palestinian minor noted.

Atiyeh went on to say that he was taken to an Israeli detention facility in Jerusalem al-Quds, where he was forced to “kneel with his face on the ground and his hands cuffed behind his back for 10 hours.”

Muhammad Arafat Ubeidat, another teenage boy from the predominantly Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber in East Jerusalem al-Quds, said he was detained from his home during an overnight raid on May 19.

Israeli soldiers handcuffed the 16-year-old behind his back and took him to a military vehicle. The Palestinian teenager was then taken to a detention center, where he underwent a six-hour interrogation with his hands and feet tied to a chair.

Ubeidat was kept in a cell at the compound under no charge for 14 days, and subjected to 17 interrogation sessions during the period. He had three or four interrogation sessions a day on some days.

The report came as the PCPA reported on August 16 that Israeli forces had detained 560 Palestinian children in East Jerusalem al-Quds so far this year.

Issa Qaraqe, the committee head, said that Palestinian children younger than 12 were taken into Israeli custody in violation of human rights and international law.

Israeli forces check a Palestinian teenager at the entrance of Damascus Gate outside Old City, Jerusalem al-Quds, February 24, 2016. ©AFP

He further noted that 110 minors are still being held in Israeli prisons, with 60 children under house arrest despite being released from jail.

Some of the minors were wounded and denied the right to have a family member present during their interrogation, Qaraqe said, adding that the child prisoners are put under pressure that has “long term effects on their psyche.”

Last month, the rights group Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) published a report, analyzing 65 cases in which Palestinian minors were put behind bars and handed down prison sentences.

The DCIP report found that the vast majority – 87.7 percent – of Palestinian youths had been restrained during arrest.