IOF Raids School as Report Reveals 151 Palestinian Children in Prison

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Students attend a lesson at a house turned into a school in the Yanun village Nablus, West Bank on February 3, 2015. Anadolu/Nedal Eshtayah

Published Thursday, February 5, 2015

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) raided a Palestinian high school in the northern occupied West Bank and forced students out at gunpoint on Wednesday morning, Ma’an news agency said, as a new report revealed that at least 151 Palestinian children were being held in jails inside Israeli-occupied territories.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors Israeli settlement-related activities, told Ma'an that the IOF stormed a school near the villages of al-Lubban and al-Sawiya south of Nablus, forcing students to leave at gunpoint and detaining school administrators.

Daghlas said Israeli soldiers interrogated the two school administrators and claimed that students from the school had hurled stones at vehicles driven by Israeli settlers on the main road between Nablus and Ramallah.

An Israeli military spokeswoman claimed that "teenagers were hurling rocks at the roads" and soldiers entered the school as a result in order to "tell them to stop."

Following the incursion, "they stood outside to ensure they didn't throw any more stones," she added.

In March of last year, Israeli forces, under the same pretext, raided the school and forced it to shut down.

The villages of al-Lubban and al-Sawiya are located directly alongside the main road and are almost completed surrounded by a ring of Zionist-only settlements built on land confiscated from local villages.

The villages are frequently targeted by settlers under the sight of Israeli soldiers who almost never intervene.

151 Palestinian children held in Israeli jails

Meanwhile, a report by the Military Court Watch, a Palestinian legal monitor, revealed that at least 151 Palestinian children are currently being held as "security prisoners" in jails inside Israeli-occupied territories.

The group said that 47 percent of those are being held inside Israeli-occupied territories in violation of the Geneva Conventions, which prevents the transfer of detainees outside of occupied territory as it limits their families' and lawyers' abilities to visit.

The group also said in the statement that figures released by Israeli prison services often fail to show the real numbers, as they are based on simple "headcounts" of prisoners held at the end of each month. As a result, Palestinians who are held in detention for hours or days but released before the end of the month fail to show up in the figures.

The gap between official figures released by Israeli prison authorities and the actual numbers of Palestinians being held in Israeli custody is the result of restrictions imposed by the Israelis when it comes to data collection.

IOF regularly arrest minors in the occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem, often for minor offenses like throwing stones.

On January 25 and 26,Israeli Occupation Forces arrested six Palestinian minors, including a 10-year-old.

Anger has risen in recent months over Israel's assault on Gaza that left more than 2,300 Palestinians, mostly civilians, dead.

More than 700 Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories were arrested in protests against the attack over summer.

The wave of arrests came few days after a 14-year-old Palestinian girl from the village of Beitin, in the Ramallah district of the West Bank, became the youngest prisoner in Israeli jails after an Israeli court sentenced her to two months in jail and a fine of 6,000 Israeli shekels (roughly $1,500).

Detained since December 31, 2014, Malak al-Khatib was accused by the Israeli military court in Ofer of allegedly throwing rocks at Israeli security forces and being in possession of a knife.

The Ramallah-based Ahrar Center for Prisoners' Studies and Human Rights said Malak is considered the youngest prisoner currently serving a sentence in Israeli jails.

"Israel has been targeting Palestinian children for years," Ahrar Director Fouad Khuffash told the Anadolu news agency.

"Israeli violations against Palestinians, in general, and children, in particular, should not go unaccounted for," he added.

In November, the Israeli cabinet approved a new legislation that would allow the imposition of a prison sentence up to 20 years for those convicted of throwing stones or other objects at Israeli soldiers or their vehicles.
According to the UN children's fund (UNICEF), over the past decade, Israel has detained "an average of two children each day."

In its 2013 report, UNICEF added that Israel was the only country in the world where children were "systematically tried" in military courts and gave evidence of practices it said were "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment."

A report by Defense for Children International (DCI) published in May 2014 revealed that Israel jails 20 percent of Palestinian children it detains in solitary confinement.

The Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights said Israeli forces arrested nearly 3,000 Palestinian children from the beginning of 2010 to mid-2014, the majority of them between the ages of 12 and 15 years old.

It also documented dozens of video recorded testimonies of children arrested during the first months of 2014, pointing out that 75 percent of the detained children are subjected to physical torture and 25 percent faced military trials.

Around 6,000 Palestinians, including hundreds without charge, are currently being held in Israeli prisons, more than 2,000 of whom were arrested by Israeli forces over in the summer of 2014 amid heavy tensions in the West Bank and Gaza.

The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-infamous Balfour Declaration, called for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

In 1948, with the end of the mandate, a new state — Israel — was declared inside historical Palestine.

Israel then occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state — a move never recognized by the international community.

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)

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