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Violations against Palestinian children spike after Trump’s declaration

By The Palestine Monitor - December 30, 2017
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [child arrests] [Nabi Saleh] [Muhammad Abu Khdeir] [injuries]

Israeli violations against Palestinian children in the occupied territories have increased since US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital in a speech on December 6, says a recent report published by Defence for Children International (DCI) Palestine.

The declaration, alongside the announcement that the US intends to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sparked widespread protests worldwide as well as in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, where they have often turned deadly. 10 people have died so far across the occupied territories as Israeli forces often use excessive force to suppress protests. Two civilians were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza.

Thousands have been injured and hundreds more have been arrested in raids often conducted by the Israeli army at night.

Children injured by use of excessive force to suppress protests

DCI found that Israeli forces often misused crowd-control weapons and, on some occasions, live ammunition against children during protests.

Between December 6 and 20, DCI said eight children were injured in the occupied territories, six of which suffered head injuries. All except one suffered potentially irreversible damage, including two children with permanent eye loss.

At least 345 Palestinian children were injured by Israeli forces between December 5 and 18, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). During clashes near the border fence in the Gaza Strip, the use of live ammunition was so widespread that live fire injuries amounted to over a third of the total, OCHA reported.

Regulations allow the use of rubber-coated metal bullets for the purpose of dispersing crowds. However, they must be fired from at least 40 metres away at the lower body, and not at children.

At least two minors were struck in the head by rubber-coated metal bullets in the West Bank since December 6.

16-year-old Qassam K. was hit during clashes near Joseph’s Tomb near the Balata refugee camp, during a settler visit to the holy site, revered by Jews and Muslims as the burial place of the biblical figure Joseph, son of Jacob. Jewish pilgrims are permitted to visit the tomb once a month at night, accompanied by the Israeli army.

"Israeli [soldiers] keep guard for the settlers. Every week the settlers visit the tomb, and Palestinians try to stop this," Qassam told Palestine Monitor during a visit to the family. The child was recovering from a skull fracture caused by the bullet.

Lack of accountability

“Israeli forces seemingly disregard their own open-fire regulations and international law, and enjoy near complete impunity for their unlawful conduct. This lack of justice and accountability results in a high toll paid by Palestinian minors subjected to serious injury or even death,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCI Palestine.

In the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, 15-year-old Mohammed Tamimi was shot in the head at close range during clashes that broke out after a protest against Trump's Jerusalem move. The rubber-coated metal bullet entered from just below his nose and lodged at the back of his skull. He was put under an induced coma and underwent surgery. He's now recovering, but his mother, Amtethal Tamimi, said it is unlikely the family will be able to lodge a complaint or receive any compensation.

"I don’t know to which side can I ask for my rights,” Amtethal told Palestine Monitor. “The judge is the same as them [the Israeli soldiers]. No one is helping me right now."

When a July 2015 arson attack by Jewish extremists killed three members of the Dawabshe family, including 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe, the investigation stalled for months. The only survivor, 7-year-old Ahmed, does not qualify for compensation as a “terror victim” because the law that protects them does not apply to Palestinians in the West Bank, who are neither citizens or residents of Israel.

High-profile cases of violence against children, such as the killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian teenager burned alive by a Jewish gang in 2014, spark popular outrage and often usher in long periods of heightened tensions.

Spike in military detention of children

Ahed Tamimi, Mohammed's cousin, was arrested three days after the incident in Nabi Saleh as a video of her slapping an Israeli soldier stationed in the yard of her family home circulated online. The video was filmed shortly after Mohammed had been shot.

DCI also reported that the number of children arriving at Ofer military prison near Ramallah doubled this month. The group said that 77 children arrived between December 1 and 19, more than doubling the number of those incarcerated at the facility.

An estimated 500 to 700 children are detained by Israeli forces each year and prosecuted in military courts, which fall short of providing basic fair trial rights. Palestinian children under Israeli military law (which applies in the West Bank but not in Jerusalem) have no right to a lawyer during interrogation.

In 590 cases documented by DCI between 2012 and 2016, 72 percent of Palestinian child detainees reported physical violence and 66 percent faced verbal abuse and humiliation during interrogation. Sentences are often handed down based on confessions extracted with such methods.

Fawzi al-Junaidi, the 16-year-old boy portrayed in a viral photo blindfolded and surrounded by more than 20 Israeli soldiers during his arrest, was recently released on bail. Family and lawyers say he is suffering from bruises and a dislocated shoulder.



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