By: Zine Larbaoui
Crimes against Humanity and especially against children are common currency in various regions of the world; yet too often the world turns a blind eye, citing this happens in a far away land or there’s hesitation to meddle in another nation’s internal affairs. But in the end, when all is said and done, it is our collective silence that allows the abuse to continue unabated, as our silence is interpreted as consent – in the words of Plato! The following is one of those abuses…
Three Palestinian children were burned with cigarettes and deprived of food, water and access to toilets after being arrested and detained by Israeli soldiers and police in September 2013, according to a new report from DCI-Palestine.
In separate incidents, three children were attacked and abused during their arrest and transferred to the police station which is located inside the illegal settlement of Ariel in the occupied West Bank. In its report (early December 2013) Defense for International-Palestine Children Section (DCI-Palestine) said that:
“Israeli soldiers repeatedly beat up S. Ali, 14, Azzun, S. Hendi, 17 and Mohammad A., 15, of Tulkarm, after arresting them. A soldier extinguished a cigarette butt on the lip of Ali while another burned Hendi’s arm with a cigarette, according to the sworn testimony of two teenagers. Hendi and Mohammad were deprived of food, water and access to toilets for a long time. All three were accused of throwing stones.”
DCI-Palestine added ten separate complaints were submitted in 2013 on alleged abuse and “torture of Palestinian children by Israeli soldiers and police,” but in eight cases, “the Israeli authorities did not inform DCI-Palestine whether or not they had opened an investigation. For the other two cases, the decision of the military’s Attorney General was to close the investigation because of insufficient evidence. Israeli authorities consider the refusal of victims to testify without the presence of a lawyer as a lack of evidence.”
The group cites statistics from Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organization, which indicate that only 5 percent of complaints to the Criminal Investigations Division of the military police resulted in a conviction.
In its press release, DCI-Palestine added: “Israeli soldiers arrest Palestinian children in a traumatic fashion, often through violence and humiliation, set children in a condition to quickly get them to ‘confess’ during interrogation,” said Iyad Misk, a lawyer from DCI-Palestine. “The burning of children with cigarette butts is particularly alarming and requires a prompt, transparent and impartial evaluation from the Criminal Investigations Division of the Military Police and hold the perpetrators accountable.”
Israeli authorities unconditionally released convicted Mohammad Hendi for time spent and Ali remains in custody. This is the second time this year that Hendi has been abused. In February 2013, DCI-Palestine has complained to the Internal Investigations Department of the Police on the mistreatment Hendi endured during an interrogation at the Ariel police station in February.”
Last month, it was revealed that Israeli soldiers put Palestinian prisoners – including children – in cages outside, during a big winter storm.
And just week ago, Israeli soldiers were filmed kidnapping and beating young Palestinians kids near the Israeli wall, in occupied East Jerusalem.
Human Rights Watch recently reported that at least on two occasions in 2013 the Israeli occupation forces ambushed and shot to kill Palestinian children near their schools in the West Bank, for no apparent reason.
DCI-Palestine said that there was an average of 203 children in Israeli detention in 2013, with an average of 33 being between 12 and 15 years. “The usual charge is throwing stones,” says DCI-Palestine. “Currently, 51.4 percent of Palestinian children prisoners are held in Israel, in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
During the last decade of the 20th century, the world vociferously condemned the brutal regime of South Africa for its gross human rights violations and the regime cowered. Isn’t it time Humanity raised its voice again against the odious crimes of the remaining Apartheid State?