By Paulette Schroeder
In the last three months, the Israeli military has been arresting and detaining children at an unprecedented rate.
On 2 January, a fourteen-year-old neighbor boy was cutting open boxes filled with wares in his father’s store. The soldiers saw the boy with a knife, blindfolded him, whisked him away, and held him for two hours while the father pleaded for him at the military gate.
On 6 January, soldiers blindfolded and handcuffed an eight-year-boy for stone throwing. They forced him to spend eight hours next to a dog behind a military gate. On the same day, a boy in the neighborhood ran an errand for his father. The soldiers saw him running, grabbed him, and detained him behind the military gate for two hours, as his father, too, insisted his son did no wrong.
On 23 February, our neighbor sent her fifteen-year-old son to buy bread. Fifteen minutes later, Israeli soldiers blindfolded and handcuffed him, accusing him of throwing stones, which he denied doing. He spent time in Ofir Prison among adult men, some of whom may have committed serious crimes. Although he continues to insist on his innocence, he will spend four or five months in a juvenile Israeli prison until his court case is completed. Israeli soldiers also arrested Mohammed,* fourteen, and Eissa,*nineteen who were walking with the fifteen-year-old on 23 February. The Israeli authorities held Mohammed in Ofir Prison until a donor contributed 2000 shekels (about 500 dollars). Eissa is also serving time in Ofir. Both boys insist they did not throw a stone.
Finally, just this week, Israeli soldiers arrested a thirteen-year-old. At about 5:45 p.m. on 23 March, CPTers followed four soldiers as they entered the girl’s home and ordered the entire family to the roof. On the roof, a fifth soldier from a post on a neighboring Israeli settler home singled out the girl and accused her of throwing a stone. The girl’s mother protested, saying that minutes before, she had notified this soldier of settlers throwing stones at her as she hung her laundry and that he had seen settlers throwing stones. She was dumfounded that the soldier’s response was to call another unit of soldiers to detain her daughter.
Two more units of soldiers arrived at the house. The girl’s aunt attempted to prevent the soldiers from taking the girl by linking arms with her and refusing to let go. After a five-minute stand off, soldiers said that the aunt could accompany the girl, and the group of eighteen soldiers escorted them to a military jeep. Israeli police arrived, arrested the girl, and took her and her aunt to a police station for questioning and fingerprints, releasing them later that evening.
When Israeli authorities incarcerate children from Hebron, parents must travel two hours to visit them, pay $14.00 apiece for transportation, and lose a day of work. Sometimes before a child's case is settled, parents must travel four or five times to the courtroom.