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Account of a Palestinian Child: Arbitrary Arrest and Detention in Occupied East Jerusalem

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 12:11
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fadi-rafat--issawiThe killing, assault, arrest and humiliation of Palestinian children is a policy of the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF). Since the beginning of the year 26 children have been killed, while hundreds remain in detention. Israeli soldiers’ attacks on Palestinian children have ranged from killings to absurdly confiscating a bike from an 8-year-old girl in Hebron last month.

On 24 July 2016, 15-year-old Fadi Raafat Al-Issawi was returning home from visiting his cousin, when he was stopped by an undercover unit of the IOF in his neighborhood in the village of Al-Issawiyya in Occupied East Jerusalem. Fadi recounts his experience:

“On Sunday, 24 July 2016, around 3:00 pm, I was returning back home from visiting my cousin who lives about 50 meters away from my house. I was walking on the main street in Al-Issawiyya, Al-Madares Street, when a big white car came and parked two meters away from where I was standing. A number of people got out of the car, who were masked and carrying guns. There was not a demonstration or anything taking place at that time and the situation was calm. I recognized that they were part of the Israeli undercover unit of the IOF. 

About a dozen of them walked up to me, and without any prior warning or even saying a word to me, one of them aggressively approached me and held me from my arms. He violently twisted my hands towards my body and then pushed me with his shoulder to the ground. I fell back to the ground which was filled with stones and rocks. I fell on my back and my right elbow hit the ground hard. As a result of falling and from the way the soldier was holding my hand, I felt severe pain in my right wrist. Despite this, the undercover soldier continued beating me, he placed his knee on my neck as I was still lying on the ground. He then grabbed my left arm. I noticed he was wearing gloves before he punched me on my nose and mouth. He held me to the ground and called for another two soldiers, who came and each grabbed me from each arm and then dragged me to the white car.

The soldiers dragged me to the car while I was still lying on my back, which made my shoes come and the asphalt violently scratched my back. They took me to the car, where other soldiers helped them to throw me in the car. The undercover soldiers brought another child and threw him on top of me. From the severe beating, my body was numb and I did not feel the pain of him being thrown over me. I did not know the child from before, but he looked the same age as me. I later found out his name was Mustafa Abu Hummus.

When the car started moving, Mustafa and I were thrown between the driver’s seat and the seat behind it in a space that is less than half a meter. I was scared and I began to feel pain in my right hand and shoulder. When I looked at my hand, I noticed that my wrist was swollen and my palm was dangling. I tried to lift my palm but could not from the intensity of the pain. I heard Mustafa complain of pain in his hand and leg.

The car drove for a while, during the drive Mustafa was crumpled on top of me ...The car was filled with the soldiers who had their feet on top of us. I heard the soldiers speak in Hebrew to each other while cursing Mustafa and insulting his mother. I heard a call come to a wireless device asking in Hebrew, which I understand a bit of, about how many people were arrested and how old were they. One of the soldiers grabbed my hair violently and asked me how old I was, to which I answered 15. When I was first thrown in the car, the undercover soldiers placed a cloth on my eyes, which I managed to partially move away from my face. I was able to see what was happening around me.

The car stopped after about 10 minutes of driving. I saw the undercover soldiers leave the car and take Mustafa with them, while I remained in the car with another undercover soldier. I noticed that I was in what is called the “government buildings” area in Shiekh Jarrah. The undercover soldier removed the cloth off my face and blindfolded me. I could not see anything except if I looked down. The soldier grabbed me from my arm and walked me until he seated me on a chair. I was able to see that Mustafa was next to me. An Israeli soldier, who I could not tell if he was an undercover soldier or a policeman, approached me and searched my pockets then he took my ID and mobile phone. I remained seated and I was feeling pain in my arm. I started shouting that I was in severe pain but no one answered back. Mustafa was also screaming in pain but he also did not get any response from the soldiers.

A female Israeli soldier led me to a green border police military jeep. Mustafa was also brought to the jeep, where this time we both were seated in chairs. The jeep started moving and a border police soldier in a green uniform tightened my blindfold and I was no longer able to see anything. He also handcuffed my hands and shackled my feet. I informed the soldier that my hand was hurting, and it was obvious that it was swollen, he did not listen to me and handcuffed me regardless. During the short ride, I tried to move the tight handcuffs away from my hand to try to ease the pain.

When the soldiers took me out of the car, I could not see anything but someone grabbed me from my left arm and dragged me violently. I could barely walk, as I lost my shoes when I was first arrested and my feet were shackled, but the policeman or soldier continued to drag me and pushed me against walls. My right arm and hand were hitting these walls, causing more severe pain. We were walking on a flat surface when suddenly I felt myself go down stairs. I almost fell on my face, as the soldier did not warn me that we were going down stairs, but the soldier held me tight and lifted me up… I felt the wall touch my face and someone screamed to keep my face against the wall. I did not know where I was but I felt I was in a corridor as I felt people move behind me. I was left in this position for a long time and I was feeling pain in my hand and nose and I said out loudly that I was in pain, but no one responded.

As I was standing with my head against the wall, someone came and untied my blindfold. I turned around and I saw a bald man dressed in civilian clothes, who I estimated was in his fifties standing directly opposite of me. He asked me if Shireen Al-Issawi [who is detained by Israel] was my aunt, to which I answered yes. He then asked if Samer Al-Issawi [who is also detained by Israel] is my uncle, and I answered yes again. He asked if I was the son of Raafat Issawi, which I also confirmed. He then took two pictures of my face with his cell phone and then ordered me to turn my face against the wall without blindfolding my eyes.

I was still in the same position when lawyer Mohammed Mahmoud, whom I knew from before when he defended me when I was arrested for one day about three months ago, identified himself. The lawyer took a photo of my hand on his cell phone and asked for my family’s phone number. He then brought me to a room where an Israeli interrogator was present; I heard the lawyer refer to him as ‘Youni’. I heard the lawyer speak to him in Hebrew and demand my release especially after all the beatings I endured and suffered.

The lawyer left the room and then the interrogator brought me back to the same corridor and made me face the wall. After about 10 minutes, I was brought back to the to the investigation room. The interrogator, dressed in civilian clothes, introduced himself as “We’am” and looked Arab and was speaking to me in Arabic. He asked me about my name, where I live and what I was doing when they arrested me. I told him exactly what happened with me and I informed him that my hand was hurting me and showed it to him. He told me that I was accused of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at settlers’ vehicles. I was surprised and told him that there are no settlers’ cars in Al-Issawiyya. He told me that these are my charges. The interrogation continued for about half an hour...

The interrogator then sent me with a border police guard to the prison’s clinic. When we got to the clinic, I waited at the outside gate for about two hours …on the ground with Mustafa and we were both handcuffed and our feet shackled. I noticed that my hand had swelled and turned blue and my nose was hurting. Mustafa also had marks on one of his arms; he told me it was the result of being beaten with a baton when he was arrested.

Around 10 or 11 pm, I am not entirely sure, we were taken to the doctor’s room. I entered before Mustafa, and the doctor took my height and weight and inspected my hand. He told the soldier to take me to the hospital immediately. After I went out, Mustafa was taken to the room. Not long after, Mustafa left the prison’s clinic. A border police guard handed Mustafa to the prison’s guards, while I waited for a military jeep for about an hour before I arrived at Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital. At the hospital, the doctor put a cast on my hand which he said was broken.

Around 3 am the next day, three guards from the Israeli border police took me out of the hospital. I should mention that during the time I was at the hospital my feet were shackled but not handcuffed. After I was taken out of the hospital, the soldiers put me in the military jeep and took me to the western entrance of Issawiyya. I was cold. The soldiers left me in the military jeep alone, while they sat down outside in a tent. The jeep’s door was open and when I screamed at the soldiers “I am feeling cold, please close the door.” One of the soldiers then came and opened all four doors and left me in that condition until the first light of the dawn. I could not sleep from the pain in my hand and I was hungry and cold.

The soldiers got up and drove the military jeep and took me to another entrance to Al-Issawiyya, located near the Hebrew University where I stayed for a while. The jeep moved again and I saw it was heading to the border guards’ headquarters in Sheikh Jarrah. I waited in the jeep and I was in a state of severe fatigue..new soldiers entered the jeep and took me to the interrogation center in the Russian Compound.

At the Russian Compound I was searched and stripped half-naked until I was only in my underwear. A guard then seated me in a small waiting room... I stayed there for about an hour before I was transferred to the Magistrates Court. Two guards grabbed me from each hand, while my feet were shackled. The Magistrates Court extended my arrest until the next day.

I was taken back to the Russian Compound to a cell where other children of the same age were also present. I was extremely hungry and tired. It was evening time by then and as the guards began distributing food and before I got the chance to take my share, I was taken to the interrogation room. An investigator, who identified himself as Alaa… told me that Mustafa allegedly implicated me and that the police arrested me in action. He said it was best for me to confess and if I did not then the sentence will be higher. He told me that everyone makes mistakes and it is best to confess my mistake. I denied everything and told him that I have not done anything wrong, only if he considered returning back home was making a mistake. I remained for several hours in the interrogation room and the interrogator kept repeating the same things. I was taken back to the prison cell around 1:30 am. I should mention that during this interrogation as well as the interrogation when I was first arrested, both took place without the presence of my parents or any adult. During the interrogation I told the interrogator that I wanted to eat and he took me to another room where Mustafa was waiting. They brought us both food. I estimated it was 1 am when I had food and then I was taken with Mustafa to the cell.

The next day, which was a Tuesday I was brought to the Court where my arrest was extended until Thursday before I was taken back to the Russian Compound. On Wednesday I was taken to the District Court, where I had an appeal hearing. At the appeal the judge ruled to release me under the condition of house arrest at my aunt’s house in Beit Hanina until 7 August 2016, with a fine of 5,000 [about $1,300] shekels and the guarantee of four other people each with a fine of 5,000 shekels if violated.

In coordination with the police and the Court, my mother took me to the hospital where the doctors removed the old cast after the hearing. The doctors had to break my hand again and apply a new cast, since the old one was put on wrong. My mother then took me to my aunt’s house where I was away from my parents and siblings for 10 days. During that time, the police came to the house three times.

After the 10 days were over, I had a follow-up with the hospital where I found out I needed surgery for my hand. On 16 August 2016, I had the surgery at Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital where I was under complete anesthesia, and the doctors had to break my hand again and to put metal in my hand; my nose was also broken.” (Al-Haq affidavit No. 529/2016)

Al-Haq condemns Fadi’s treatment and the systematic abuse of Palestinian children. Palestinian children continue to endure violence, abuse and trauma perpetuated by Israeli Occupying Forces and Israeli settlers. As the Occupying Power, Israel has clear obligations to protect and safeguard the Palestinian population under its control, including children.

Palestinian children, as a vulnerable group, are entitled to special protection under international humanitarian law.[1] Additionally, international human rights law provides protection for the rights of children in the OPT. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), ratified by Israel in 1992, specifies that State Parties shall take all appropriate measures to “protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse”. The CRC also affirms that children should never be arbitrarily deprived of their liberty, and their detention must be a measure of last resort. Moreover, if a child is detained, he/she must be “treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.” The physical and psychological abuse inflicted on Palestinian children, including Fadi in Israeli custody may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the CRC, and the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment.



[1] Article 50 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Article 77 of the Additional Protocol I. 

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