Israel Arrests Child in West Bank, Five 1948 Palestinian Minors in Haifa

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Israeli security forces detain a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship during clashes in the town of Kfar Kana, in northern Occupied Palestine on November 9, 2014, a day after security forces shot dead a 22-year-old Palestinian with Israeli citizenship. AFP/Jack Guez

Published Monday, January 26, 2015

Israeli Occupation Forces have arrested six Palestinian minors, including a 10-year-old, on Sunday and Monday.

On Sunday, the IOF detained a 10-year-old Palestinian boy and his uncle in the annexed East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur, prompting residents to clash with the Israeli soldiers, witnesses said.

Locals told Ma'an news agency that the IOF assaulted and arrested Mohammed Afeef Khweis while he was playing around in a park in the neighborhood.

Mohammed’s family members, who tried to stop the arrest, were also attacked by the soldiers, one of whom removed the headscarf of one of Mohammed’s female relatives.

Mohammed’s 50-year-old uncle Hani Saleh Khweis, who was also arrested, suffered shortness of breath after being pepper-sprayed and pushed to the ground.

Mohammed Abu Ghannam, the head of a teacher-parent committee at a local school, tried to provide the struggling uncle with first aid, but was hit on the head and shoved by Israeli soldiers.

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

Also on Sunday, IOF arrested five 1948 Palestinians minors in the northern city of Haifa for allegedly assaulting a group of young settlers, Israeli police Spokesperson Luba Samri said in a statement.

Samri claimed the young Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, allegedly wearing masks, attacked settlers with sticks.

Palestinian citizens of Israel, who account for about 20 percent of the population in Occupied Palestine, are the descendents of Palestinian who remained on their land when the Zionist state was established in 1948. The majority of Palestinians were killed, expelled from their homes, or detained in work camps.

Palestinians with Israeli citizenship complain of routine discrimination, particularly in housing, land access and employment, and 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.

Haifa is populated by a mix of Israelis and Palestinians.

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," center 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.

He said his center had started a new campaign to lobby for Malak’s release.

Malak’s father, Ali al-Khatib, said his daughter was brought to the court with her hands and feet in handcuffs.

"When the judge read out the verdict, I looked at Malak and she was wiping off her tears as she shivered from cold," the father told Anadolu.

According to her father, Malak was also accused of blocking a main road in the occupied West Bank.

“She was leaving school after attending her last exam for the first semester when all of a sudden soldiers jumped at her, handcuffed her hands and took her with them,” he explained.

"How could a 14-year-old have committed these acts?" the girl's mother, Khawla al-Khatib, asked.

"All these charges are fabricated," she said.

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.

Malak is one of 300 Palestinian minors currently held in Israeli prisons.

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.

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.

Gaza

Meanwhile, the IOF detained two Palestinian youths from the Gaza Strip on Monday after they crossed the border into the Israeli-occupied territories of Palestine.

The pair had crossed a border fence into southern Occupied Palestine from northern Gaza, eyewitnesses told Anadolu.

The Israeli army has yet to comment on the incident.

According to Palestinian rights groups, over 25 Palestinians have been arrested since October of 2014 for crossing from Gaza into the occupied territories.

Unemployment and poverty rates in the besieged Gaza Strip have both now surpassed the 50-percent mark, the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics reported.

Gaza's labor union estimates that nearly 30,000 Gazans lost their jobs as a direct result of Israel's deadly military offensive this summer, along with nearly 170,000 others who remain unemployed due to Israel's years-long blockade of the coastal enclave.

Meanwhile, Israeli authorities on Monday permitted 87 Gazans, including 13 children, to visit family members held in Israel's Nafha Prison.

"Eighty-seven Gazans on Monday morning headed to Nafha Prison through the Erez border crossing to visit 48 of their family members," Red Cross spokeswoman Suhair Zaqout told Anadolu.

"Among the 87 Palestinians are 13 children – aged ten to 14 – who will be seeing their fathers for the first time after Israel raised the maximum age for visits by sons to 14," Zaqout said.

"The Red Cross is in constant dialogue with Israeli authorities to improve the visiting conditions for Palestinians visiting detained family members," Zaqout added.

Israeli authorities allow Gazans to visit imprisoned family members on Mondays, but it frequently closes the Erez border crossing to add psychological pressure on Palestinians.

Israel strictly limits the number of children allowed to visit their detained fathers. They are subject to numerous security restrictions and typically must be below ten years of age.

Zaqout, however, said that Israeli authorities had raised the age limit from ten to 14.

(Anadolu, Ma’an, AFP, Al-Akhbar)

Comments

To be clear, Palestinian citizens of Israel don't just complain of discrimination, they actually face over 50 laws that discriminate against them, as documented by Adalah: the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights.

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