In Nahalin, a Palestinian village on the southern outskirts of Bethlehem, Palestinian police arrested 15-year-old Abd al-Hamid Najajreh and his brother after local youths threw rocks at officers on 26 April, Ma’an News Agency reported.
While reportedly breaking up a fight, police officers beat Najajreh in his head, arm and foot with a rifle butt, his parents told Ma’an. “Rocks were thrown at PA forces, but not by my sons,” his father Ahmed said.
“My son was assaulted by PA forces and thrown in the street; locals gave him first aid and took him to the town’s clinic, which transferred him to the al-Yamama Hospital where he currently is,” Ahmed recalled, adding that police were waiting to arrest the boy and his 18-year-old brother Mahmoud upon arriving at their home.
It was only one of a slew of incidents in which the PA’s security forces have been accused of physically assaulting children.
Threats and beatings
Palestinian and international human rights groups have often pointed out the PA’s record of abusing children’s rights. According to figures provided to DCI-Palestine by the Palestinian police last June, the PA arrested 2,455 children in 2013.
“The majority of children arrested in 2013 were held in separate cells within adult prisons, or in the cells of police stations,” journalist Jessica Purkiss reported for DCI-Palestine in June 2014.
Salim Qawareeq, director of the Social Protection Department at the Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs, told Purkiss: “If you were to take a snapshot of the [Palestinian] police stations in every governorate at any given time there would be around 25 children in them.”
In the case of Ahmad, a Palestinian child arrested in September 2013 in the al-Faraa refugee camp in the Jericho-area of the West Bank, Palestinian security officers interrogated, threatened and beat him. He was eventually forced to sign a confession that he was not allowed to read, DCI-Palestine noted.
These tactics echo of Israeli soldiers’ harsh treatment of Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
More than 1,200 Palestinian children were arrested or detained by Israel in 2014, according to the Palestine Liberation Organization’s statistics. They were part of the approximately 10,000 children arrested by Israel since 2000.
Between 500 and 700 Palestinian children are prosecuted in Israeli military courts each year, DCI-Palestine notes.
While in Israeli lockup, children are often interrogated, threatened, sexually assaulted, beaten and forced to sign confessions in Hebrew, a language that most of them do not know. In some cases, they are held in solitary confinement, human rights groups have observed.
Khaled al-Sheikh, 15, was arrested by Israeli soldiers for allegedly throwing a stone at Israel’s wall in the West Bank on Christmas Day, as The Electronic Intifada recently reported. He was sentenced to four months in a military prison, where his family claims he was denied access to medicine he takes for anemia, a blood condition.
As of February, there were 163 Palestinian children in Israeli prisons in the West Bank and in present-day Israel, according to Addameer, a Ramallah-based group that monitors the detentions and arrests of Palestinians.
Despite widespread calls for its termination, the PA has maintained its policy of security cooperation in the West Bank with Israeli forces and intelligence. As a result, Palestinian children find themselves stuck between the cruelty of Israeli soldiers and often violent treatment at the hands of PA security forces.