Around 500-700 Palestinian children are prosecuted each year. Israel is the only country in the world that enables this process. In the middle of the night, Israeli forces arrest children from their homes. This also happens at demonstrations or nearly military infrastructures such as checkpoints. This is not the only horrific aspect of the process, in fact, 3 out of 4 children experience a form of physical violence. This can include being slapped, punched, kicked, and other despicable forms of violence such as being forcibly hit with a helmet or rifle.
After a child has been arrested, the usual case is for them to be blindfolded and forcibly pushed into a military vehicle. This is accompanied with intensive forms of physical and verbal abuse. The process continues to worsen even further. The transfer period can last up to several hours. And the poor children are not told where they are being taken.
The interrogation process is traumatic enough on its own. When they arrive to the police station or interrogation center in which they are being questioned, the children are sleep deprived, blindfolded, and incredibly frightened. With the mere intention of bringing out a confession, Israeli forces go to any means necessary to get it out, including mental and physical coercion. Even the fundamentally basic law of access to legal counsel is continuously denied.
Within 24 to 72 hours of their arrest, the children appear before a court hearing with no ground to stand on. Since their arrest, their first acquaintance with their parents is during the court hearing. Overall, the majority of these children are being held in PTD (Pre-trial Detention).
The military court sentence consists of three phases, the imprisonment, the fine, and the suspended sentence. 50% of detained children receive a custodial sentence of around 3 to 12 months. This can last up to 1 to 3 years.
To be forced to sign confessions in a language you don’t speak and blindfolded, bound and shacked, is an epitome of baseless physical and verbal abuse. To be placed into solitary confinement in a dark and cramped room with no access to ventilation, is inhumane. To do this to children is another level of torture that one cannot begin to imagine. It is with some hope that the UN’s previous call for the release of child detainees will place Palestinian children one step closer to their well-deserved treatment. If not, we are living in a world where Israel’s forces are a hindrance to humanity.