With more than 300 Palestinian children being held in Israeli prisons, human rights groups and Palestinian officials are increasingly concerned about the actions of the Israeli military.
The Israeli group B’Tselem said that security forces had “severely violated” the rights of a number of children, aged between 12 and 15, who had been taken into custody in recent months.
The family of one 13-year-old boy from Hebron who was arrested on 27 February by a military patrol and detained for eight days have brought a legal case against the authorities. The teenager, Al-Hasan Muhtaseb, described how he had been interrogated without a lawyer late into the night, forced to confess to throwing stones, made to sign a confession in Hebrew that he couldn’t read, jailed with adults and brought before a military court. He was only released on bail eight days later, after considerable legal effort by several human rights groups. As he had signed a confession, he still faces a possible indictment for throwing stones – a charge that usually brings several months in jail but carries a maximum penalty of 20 years’ jail.
Although most international attention focuses on diplomatic sparring in the Middle East, it is cases such as this teenager’s arrest that are the reality for Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation. The surprise about the teenager’s experience is not that it is exceptional, but that it is a common occurrence.