Confessions of Palestinian children

“Detained: Confessions of Palestinian Children Imprisoned by Israel” uncovers one of the most painful experiences that Palestinian children have to endure due to the ongoing Israeli occupation. Through interviews with ex-detainees and mothers of present detainees, the project documents their stories and aims to lend a voice to those who are silenced by fear of negative repercussions.

Over the past 11 years, according to Defence for Children International, around 7500 children have been detained in Israeli prisons and detention centres. Muhammad Daoud Dirbasnis, controversially arrested at the age of six, is the youngest child to have been detained by Israeli soldiers. Such detainment is globally considered illegal under international law, along with other policies that children are subjected to, such as solitary confinement.

The project aims to raise awareness about violations committed against Palestinian children and open a discussion regarding universal children’s rights by uncovering the confessions of children and mothers of children who have been victims of these infringements.

Dates, names and places have been changed in order to protect the children’s identities.

Z.S., 17 years old.

Z.S’ house was attacked on a Thursday night at around 2 a.m with sound bombs and tear gas. Six soldiers broke into his family house and arrested him. The soldiers dragged him to a neighbouring settlement 1km away. During the walk he was beaten by the soldiers and sworn at. He was left outside in the cold, blindfolded, for two hours.

During the interrogation he was asked whether he wanted to be treated like an animal or like a human being. The boy’s response was ‘like a human being’. He was handcuffed and blindfolded as the interrogator electrocuted him several times. He then grabbed his head and banged it against the wall until a second interrogator came in. The interrogator asked him to lay on the ground and started brutally kicking him until he lost consciousness.

Z.S. was released that same day. He has not filed any complaints for fear of repercussions.

O.T., 10 years old. 

O.T. was walking home one evening after playing football. He was followed by an IDF jeep and arrested. He was accused of throwing stones at the jeep. During the interrogation O.T. was shown a video footage of children throwing stones at soldiers and he was forced to admit that he was amongst them.

He had to sign a document stating that he would pay a fine of NIS 3,000 ($800) if he were ‘seen’ throwing stones again.

O.S., 17 years old.

O.S. was arrested twice for allegedly throwing stones at settlers. The first time he was released for lack of evidence. The second time O.S. was arrested he was brutally beaten up during the interrogation. The interrogator kept smashing his head against the wall until blood would run down his nose. The court ruled that he should be under house arrest for the period of two months and pay a fine of NIS 1,000 ($250).

During his court session, O.S. was handcuffed and was not allowed to use the toilet or drink any liquids.

O.S. is not allowed to travel outside Jerusalem. He is interrogated every time he passes a checkpoint.

I.B., 16 years old. 

I.B.’s cousin was shot dead at an Israeli checkpoint in Nablus at the age of 15. The soldiers suspected he was wearing an explosives belt because of a wire connected to his ear. It later transpired that it was a mobile phone earpiece.

In order to commemorate his cousin I.B. decided to print posters of his cousin and stick them on the walls of his neighbourhood. This was considered a crime by the IDF.

I.B. spent 4 days in prison and 18 days in a solitary confinement cell. He was not able to finish his studies after that incident.

Z.B., 17 years old.

Z.B.’s family was asked by the soldiers to immediately evacuate their house with no prior notice. During the raid on his house all furniture was broken into pieces.

When the soldiers finished raiding the house they asked him to step closer to them, one soldier twisted his arms while the second blindfolded him. He was arrested alongside his cousin. They were accused of belonging to a Hamas group.

Z.B. has been in prison for 9 years now. He is not allowed any family visits.

M.O., 12 years old.

M.O. has been detained 7 times so far. The first time he was arrested at the age of 9 years only for allegedly throwing stones at settlers.

M.O.’s family is constantly targeted by settler attacks as they live in Hay Al Bustan in Silwan. Their house is to be demolished as a part of an Israeli plan to target Arab citizens in Jerusalem.

Settler attacks are very common in that area. M.O. was attacked by settlers and beaten up. He suffered from internal bleeding due to the brutality of the attack.

Y.K., 15 years old.

On 4 April 2011 Y.K. went with his father to the fields of the farm they own. Their farm is located next to an Israeli settlement. The family was attacked that day by armed settlers who shot Y.K. in the head. He died immediately.

His younger brother (14 years) was arrested and detained for 45 days.

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