Forty Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were incarcerated in Israel Prison Service facilities during Operation Cast Lead at the beginning of this year, and 21 are still in prison. That’s a very small number, compared to the many hundreds the Israel Defense Forces arrested in Gaza, and as compared with the hundreds who were transferred for interrogation to various detention facilities in Israel before being released.
Samir al-Attar, 38, is one of the 40; his eldest son Hussein, 13, spent three days together in a makeshift prison. The father was then placed on a truck and the son was released. “Is the boy still traumatized by the arrest?” the father was asked this week by telephone. “Not all that much,” he replied. “What Hussein saw when he was let out made him forget the ordeal of the arrest.”
Separated from his father, the boy started to walk home. Their neighborhood was empty, many of the houses had been destroyed or were riddled with bullet holes, and the fields, groves and hothouses were leveled. The sound of shelling accompanied Hussein all the time; an Israeli sniper could be lurking behind every window.