Military detention is
no way to treat a child

ABOUT THIS EXHIBIT

“Military detention is No Way To Treat a Child” is a photo exhibit by Defense for Children International — Palestine (DCIP), an independent, local Palestinian child rights organization based in Ramallah. DCIP is dedicated to defending and promoting the rights of children living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. For over 25 years, we have investigated, documented and pursued accountability for grave human rights violations against children; held Israeli and Palestinian authorities accountable to universal human rights principles; and advocated at the international and national levels to advance access to justice and protection for children. We also provide direct legal aid to children in distress.

Under international law, a child is any individual under the age of 18. For more information, visit dci-palestine.org.

1/15
Former child prisoner Obaida Jawabra, the subject of the short feature film “OBAIDA,” was detained a third time by Israeli forces shortly after the film wasreleased in May 2019.
(DCIP / MATTHEW CASSEL)
1/15
Former child prisoner Obaida Jawabra, the subject of the short feature film “OBAIDA,” was detained a third time by Israeli forces shortly after the film wasreleased in May 2019.
(DCIP / MATTHEW CASSEL)

OBAIDA JAWABRA, 15

What does it feel like to be led away from your home by a soldier, while blindfolded? What happens when a military occupation looms over an entire childhood?

Obaida Jawabra was first arrested by Israeli forces at the age of 14. During this arrest, he was bound, blindfolded, and strip-searched.

“The soldiers would beat me in places that would leave no marks, so there wouldn’t be any evidence on my body that I could use to testify against them,” said Obaida.

Soldiers accused Obaida of throwing stones at Israeli soldiers stationed at the entrance to Arroub refugee camp, where Obaida lives.

2/15
An Israeli military tower in front of Arroub refugee camp, West Bank, November 27, 2015.
(PHOTO: ACTIVESTILLS / ANNE PAQ)
2/15
An Israeli military tower in front of Arroub refugee camp, West Bank, November 27, 2015.
(PHOTO: ACTIVESTILLS / ANNE PAQ)

MILITARY STRUCTURES AS FLASHPOINTS OF VIOLENCE

Arroub refugee camp is located in Hebron, near a large Israeli settlement bloc, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) this camp seesone of the highest rates of Israeli military incursions of all the West Bank refugee camps.

Between DCIP’s first encounter with Obaida in October of 2017 and May of 2019, Israeli forces detained and released Obaida Jawabra two more times. In 2017, Israeli forces shot 17-year-old Murad Abu Ghazi, who allegedly threw Molotov cocktails at this watchtower, directly in the heart. He died on the spot.

3/15
Janna Jihad Ayyad confronts Israeli soldiers who invaded her village during clashes between the Israeli army and Palestinian youth, Nabi Saleh, West Bank, April 21, 2018.
(PHOTO: ACTIVESTILLS / ANNE PAQ)
3/15
Janna Jihad Ayyad confronts Israeli soldiers who invaded her village during clashes between the Israeli army and Palestinian youth, Nabi Saleh, West Bank, April 21, 2018.
(PHOTO: ACTIVESTILLS / ANNE PAQ)

MILITARY LAW

Military law, with its severe restrictions on daily life, has applied to Palestinians in the West Bank since 1967, when Israel occupied the territory following the Six Day War.

As a legal framework, it offers few rights and protections to Palestinians children when they are arrested by soldiers.

Under Israeli military law, Palestinian children do not even have the right to have a lawyer or adult member present during interrogation.

Jewish settlers, however, who reside within the bounds of the West Bank in violation of international law, are subject to the Israeli civilian legal framework which includes greater legal protections for juveniles in conflict with the law. Accordingly, Israel operates two separate legal systems in the same territory.

4/15
Palestinians walk on Shuhada street in the Israeli-controlled “H2” area of Hebron, West Bank, February 24, 2016.
(PHOTO: ACTIVESTILLS / OREN ZIV)
4/15
Palestinians walk on Shuhada street in the Israeli-controlled “H2” area of Hebron, West Bank, February 24, 2016.
(PHOTO: ACTIVESTILLS / OREN ZIV)

A HYPER-MILITARIZED ENVIRONMENT

Stationed throughout the West Bank, Israeli soldiers, police, and private security firms enforce military law and protect settler populations at the expense of Palestinian civilians.

As children go about their daily lives, they are forced to regularly encounter Israeli forces at checkpoints, surveillance towers, and other manned military posts in their neighborhoods.

In this hyper-militarized environment, Palestinian children face a disproportionate risk of physical violence and arrest, movement restrictions, impediments to education, and psychological trauma.

5/15
Israeli soldiers detained Fawzi J., 16, in Hebron on December 7, 2017, amid a widespread crackdown on protesters after U.S. President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
(PHOTO: FLASH 90 / WISAM HASHLAMOUN)
5/15
Israeli soldiers detained Fawzi J., 16, in Hebron on December 7, 2017, amid a widespread crackdown on protesters after U.S. President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
(PHOTO: FLASH 90 / WISAM HASHLAMOUN)

700 PALESTINIAN CHILDREN UNDER MILITARY DETENTION EACH YEAR

Israel systematically detains and prosecutes an estimated 700 children each year in military courts.

The Israel Prison Service (IPS) does not release the total number of Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military per year. However, monthly headcount data provided by IPS shows that between January 2008 and December 2018, IPS held an average of 263 children each month for “security offenses.”

6/15

ISRAELI MILITARY DETENTION FACILITIES

The Israeli military detention system consists of a network of military bases, interrogation and detention centers, police stations and prisons in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and inside Israel. Some of these facilities are inside Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank or closed military areas.

Palestinian children arrested from the West Bank are initially taken to one of2 these facilities for pre-trial interrogation purposes, pre-trial detention, or prior to appearing in the military courts. Following an initial appearance in one of the military courts, Palestinian child detainees are transferred to prisons, some located inside Israel, where they sit in pre-trial detention, wait to be sentenced, or serve their prison sentence.

Transfer of Palestinian detainees, including children, to detention facilities inside Israel, even for brief periods, constitutes an unlawful transfer in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

7/15
Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian youth during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron on June 16, 2014, after the Israeli army raided the city for several days.
(PHOTO: ACTIVESTILLS)
7/15
Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian youth during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron on June 16, 2014, after the Israeli army raided the city for several days.
(PHOTO: ACTIVESTILLS)

EVIDENCE OF WIDESPREAD ABUSES

Ill-treatment in the Israeli military detention system is “widespread, systematic, and institutionalized throughout the process,” according to a 2013 UNICEF report.

From testimonies of 739 Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces from the occupied West Bank and prosecuted in Israeli military courts between 2013 and 2018, DCIP found that:

  • pie-73.svg73% experienced physical violence following arrest
  • pie-49.svg49% were detained from their homes in the middle of the night
  • pie-96.svg96% were interrogated without the presence of a family member
  • pie-95.svg95% were hand tied
  • pie-64.svg64% faced verbal abuse, humiliation, or intimidation
  • pie-20.svg20% were subjected to stress positions
  • pie-86.svg86% were blindfolded
  • pie-74.svg74% were not properly informed of their rights
  • pie-49.svg49% signed documents in Hebrew, a language most Palestinian children don’t understand
8/15
Israeli soldiers detained Mohammad B. in 2017, when he was 14 years old. During the course of his detention, he was bound, blindfolded, and physically abused.
(PHOTO: DCIP / YUMNA PATEL AND AKRAM AL-WA’RA)
8/15
Israeli soldiers detained Mohammad B. in 2017, when he was 14 years old. During the course of his detention, he was bound, blindfolded, and physically abused.
(PHOTO: DCIP / YUMNA PATEL AND AKRAM AL-WA’RA)

MOHAMMAD B., 14

Mohammad B. was 14 when he was arrested in the middle of the night on September 25, 2017, from Arroub refugee camp. He was detained on the ground in cold weather in the Israeli settlement of Karmei Tzur for several hours. At Gush Etzion detention center, Mohammad was interrogated while bound and blindfolded. He told DCIP that interrogators did not inform him of his rights. He did not have a lawyer or family member present during interrogation, nor was he allowed to access legal counsel prior to the interrogation.The interrogators slapped, punched, and kicked Mohammad repeatedly across his body when he refused to confess that he threw stones and Molotov cocktails. An interrogator also banged Mohammad’s head against a wall, choked him, stuck his finger in his eye, and verbally insulted him and his family, according to Mohammad’s sworn statement. A third interrogator took Mohammad to another room and called his father to inquire if he wanted to hire a lawyer. The interrogator threatened to beat him if he did not confess and took him to a room with an audio recorder where he confessed.

9/15
General view of the Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, January 1, 2018.
(ACTIVESTILLS / OREN ZIV)
9/15
General view of the Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, January 1, 2018.
(ACTIVESTILLS / OREN ZIV)

INTERROGATION

While Israeli civilian law, in most cases, allows parental presence during interrogation, Palestinian child detainees under Israeli military law do not have this right.

The overwhelming majority of children told DCIP that they are denied parental presence during interrogation.

With no third-party presence in the room during interrogations, Palestinian children are highly vulnerable to rights violations and abuses. Israeli interrogation techniques are generally mentally and physically coercive, frequently incorporating a mix of intimidation, threats, and physical violence, with the apparent purpose of inflicting physical or mental pain or suffering for obtaining a confession.

Alone and terrified, most children confess to some form of wrong-doing, even if they internally maintain their innocence.

10/15
Fragments of the translated sworn testimony of Ahmad I., 17, arrested by Israeli soldiers on January 2, 2019. He was held in solitary confinement for at least 18 days and subjected to a stress postion during interrogation.
(PHOTO: DCIP)
10/15
Fragments of the translated sworn testimony of Ahmad I., 17, arrested by Israeli soldiers on January 2, 2019. He was held in solitary confinement for at least 18 days and subjected to a stress postion during interrogation.
(PHOTO: DCIP)

SOLITARY CONFINEMENT

Children who do not confess face solitary confinement as a means for interrogators to coerce a confession from them.

In their sworn statements, children describe solitary confinement conditions as unsanitary, windowless cells with 24-hour lighting and protrusions on the walls. Between 2016 and 2018, Israeli forces placed 73 Palestinian children in isolation during pre-trial detention. International law prohibits the use of solitary confinement and similar measures against children, defined as any person under 18 years old.

The longest period of isolation for a child that DCIP documented in this period was 30 days. The practice of isolation, when used against children, is considered a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and in some cases amounts to torture. Under this pressure, the vast majority of children confess.

11/15
Ahed Tamimi, 17 is taken out of the Ofer military court, West Bank, December 20, 2017. Israeli soldiers arrested Ahed on December 19, 2017, after a video of her confronting Israeli soldiers entering her house in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, went viral.
(PHOTO: ACTIVESTILLS / OREN ZIV)
11/15
Ahed Tamimi, 17 is taken out of the Ofer military court, West Bank, December 20, 2017. Israeli soldiers arrested Ahed on December 19, 2017, after a video of her confronting Israeli soldiers entering her house in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, went viral.
(PHOTO: ACTIVESTILLS / OREN ZIV)

MILITARY COURTS

Children’s statements made as a result of torture or ill-treatment are rarely excluded as evidence by military judges. Children most commonly face the charge of throwing stones, which carries maximum sentences of 10 or 20 years, depending on the circumstances.

While most children receive sentences between three and 12 months, these maximums remain available at the discretion of military judges.

Many children maintain their innocence internally, but plead guilty, as it is the fastest way to get out of the system. Most receive plea deals of less than 12 months. Trials, on the other hand, can last a year, possibly longer. Military judges rarely grant bail, which leaves most children behind bars as they await trial.

12/15
Israel’s army held Laith K., 17, in administrative detention for nearly a year between 2017 and 2018, without charge or trial.
(DCIP / AHMAD AL-BAZZ)
12/15
Israel’s army held Laith K., 17, in administrative detention for nearly a year between 2017 and 2018, without charge or trial.
(DCIP / AHMAD AL-BAZZ)

ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION

Around 2 a.m. on the morning of September 20, 2017, Israeli soldiers entered Laith K.’s home in Kafr Ein village, outside of Ramallah.

The 17-year-old was bound, blindfolded, and physically assaulted by Israeli forces. For the duration of his 46 weeks in detention, neither Laith nor his DCIP attorney were ever informed of the reason for his detention.

Administrative detention is a form of imprisonment without charge or trial. Children held under administrative detention orders are never presented with charges, and their detention is based on secret evidence that is not disclosed to the detainee or the detainee’s attorney. Therefore, children held in administrative detention and their attorneys have no legal means of challenging the detention and the alleged basis for it.

This amounts to a denial of a fundamental due process right.

13/15
A photo frame composed of Hebrew newspaper scraps and a ping-pong ball covered in sequins. These crafts were made by 16-year-old child prisoner Mesleh M. while he was incarcerated in Megiddo prison between 2014 and 2015.
(PHOTO: DCIP)
13/15
A photo frame composed of Hebrew newspaper scraps and a ping-pong ball covered in sequins. These crafts were made by 16-year-old child prisoner Mesleh M. while he was incarcerated in Megiddo prison between 2014 and 2015.
(PHOTO: DCIP)

A PUNITIVE MODEL

Israel exceeds international juvenile justice standards when handling Israeli juvenile criminal offenders, with a focus on rehabilitation and reintegration. At Ofek, an Israeli juvenile detention center, Israeli juvenile criminal offenders have access to psychologists, teachers, and other specialized staff. They are able to access therapeutic and enrichment programming involving animals, sports, and theater, based on Israel Prison Service publications.

None of this exists for Palestinian children. Instead, Israel knowingly applies a punitive model toward detained Palestinian children. While serving their sentences, Palestinian children receive only a limited education of basic Arabic, mathematics and sometimes Hebrew. All other subjects have been deemed security risks. As a result, many struggle to catch up at school, and may opt to drop out, gain vocational training, and join the labor market.

14/15
Dima al-Wawi, a 12 year-old girl, is welcomed by her family at the Jabara checkpoint, West Bank, following her release from Israeli military detention on April 24, 2016. Dima was arrested on February 8, 2016, outside the Israeli settlement Karmei Tzur, near Hebron, after she was stopped at the gate with a knife.
(PHOTO: ACTIVESTILLS / KEREN MANOR)
14/15
Dima al-Wawi, a 12 year-old girl, is welcomed by her family at the Jabara checkpoint, West Bank, following her release from Israeli military detention on April 24, 2016. Dima was arrested on February 8, 2016, outside the Israeli settlement Karmei Tzur, near Hebron, after she was stopped at the gate with a knife.
(PHOTO: ACTIVESTILLS / KEREN MANOR)

RELEASE

After release, many Palestinian child ex-prisoners struggle to reintegrate into their communities. Some continue to behave as if they are still in prison: self-restricting their movements, reducing their social contact and spending long hours watching television.

For children who confess to crimes they did not commit or name other children in their confessions, the psychological toll can be heavy. Some fear revenge from community members after release, or struggle with feelings of guilt and shame.

Even a short stint in Israeli prison can therefore alter the entire trajectory of a child’s life.

15/15
Three Palestinian youth from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh are seen during their court hearing in Ofer military court, December 21, 2015.
(PHOTO: ACTIVESTILLS / OREN ZIV)
15/15
Three Palestinian youth from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh are seen during their court hearing in Ofer military court, December 21, 2015.
(PHOTO: ACTIVESTILLS / OREN ZIV)

HELP US END THIS

The No Way to Treat a Child campaign seeks to challenge and end Israel’s prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by exposing widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system.

It is a joint project of Defense for Children International - Palestine and American Friends Service Committee.

The No Way to Treat a Child campaign is committed to securing a just and viable future for Palestinian children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and envisions a world where all children attain rights in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international standards.