“They beat me, cursed me, and threatened to lock me up if I didn’t confess that I threw Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers,” Oday, a 15-year-old boy, said after he was detained for one month in Megiddo prison and six months at home.
Oday is not the first teenager subjected to beatings and insults in Israeli prisons. On December 30, 2014, the head of the Census Department of the Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, Abdul-Nasser Ferwana, stated that Israel arrested 3755 children in the last four years, including 1266 in 2014 alone.
Children's statements confirm that all of them were subjected to at least one form of physical or psychological torture. The increasing levels of targeting and arresting Palestinian children by Israeli occupation will pose serious threats to their reality and their future, Ferwana added.
Nights in Al- Moscobiya
Oday returned to his home in Al-Issawiyya village, East Jerusalem on the afternoon of November 20, 2013, to be shocked with an order from the Israeli court saying that he has to turn himself to the police right away. He immediately went to Al- Moscobiya, an Israeli detention and interrogation centre, with his brother to inquire about the reason. This was the beginning of the worst period of Oday’s life.
“The first thing they told me is that I had to thank God that they didn’t catch me at home because they would have beaten me up,” Oday said.“According to the law, I knew that I must be accompanied by a family member throughout my questioning, so I kept asking for my brother to come, but they showed me on the cameras that he had left. Then they told me they would keep me there.”
DCI-Palestine, an NGO focused on child’s rights, showed in its research that “Palestinian children arrive to Israeli interrogation centers blindfolded, bound and sleep deprived.” In addition, Palestinian children are denied the right to have a parent present during interrogation, unlike Israeli children. “In 96 percent of cases documented by DCI-Palestine in 2013, children were questioned alone and rarely informed of their rights, particularly their right against self-incrimination.”
Oday’s interrogation lasted for more than a week. He said that every day he was questioned by a different investigator who was cursing, beating, and threatening him in order to have him admit to throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers.
“The worst thing during the interrogation was that I was helpless while they were cursing my mother, my sisters, and God,” said Oday, whose hands and feet were shackled during the interrogation. “Once, I was left alone in the interrogation room. After few minutes, I heard the interrogator shouting ’you must confess, did you hear me?’ Then I heard the sound of beatings and screaming. The door was not fully closed, so I looked to figure out what is going on. I discovered that there were two investigators standing near the door, acting out this scene to scare me."
“They cursed me so that I would sign a document in Hebrew that I didn’t understand and pushed me against the wall many times,” Oday said. “They tried to make me fall on the ground by pulling the chains that were around my feet from the back of the chair.”
“Each time I told them that I didn’t do anything, they beat me harder and harder. In the end, I decided to admit to something I didn’t do just to stop them from beating me, so I told them that from my roof, I saw guys who were throwing Molotov cocktails, but that I didn’t know who they are.”
Megiddo prison and house arrest
“On the last day of the interrogation, the jailer told me that I was going home,” Oday recounts. “I was so happy and said goodbye to the prisoners. But then the jailer said: “No, I will take you to your new home: Megiddo prison.”
Oday explained that during the prisoner transport, he had to sit on metal seats without backrests or padding for hours and was in pain. His movement was severely restricted and his hands and feet were shackled.
Oday stayed in Megiddo prison for one month until the court decided to place him under house arrest. “In the beginning, I thought the house arrest would be better than the prison, but I was wrong. The prison was much better. At least, I could see the sun from the prison arena,” Oday said.
“After six months of house arrest, the lawyer called me to tell me I was free again,” Oday recalls. “I didn’t know what to do. I went out to the street and started crying. I walked around without a plan, not knowing what I was doing. When my friend grabbed my hand and saved me from a car accident, I noticed that I was in the middle of the street,” Oday said.
Article 37 in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child states that: “No one is allowed to punish children in a cruel or harmful way. Children who break the law should not be treated cruelly.” Although the age of criminal responsibility in Israel is twelve years old according to international law and children’s rights practices in Israel, Palestinian and Israeli prisoners are treated differently. Pursuant to +972 Resources Channel, Israeli children are swiftly brought before a judge, given access to a lawyer, tried, and spared jail time when they get arrested, unlike Palestinian children who face up two years in jail without trial.
Aseel Eid is a freelance journalist from Occupied Palestine. She majored in journalism and media at Birzeit University and minored in sociology and translation. Aseel is interested in human rights and seeks to report humanitarian stories, convey the truth, and present the voice of her people to the world.