A 14-year-old Palestinian girl has been imprisoned by Israeli authorities for 22 consecutive days without contact with her parents, and has just been sentenced to serve another month along with a stiff fine on her parents, reports Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights. Another four children as young as 11 were recently held for four hours under threat of detention and death,
Malak Al-Khatib, 14, from the village of Betin in the district of Ramallah, was detained by Israeli forces on December 31 while walking home from school, then accused of throwing stones, entering an Israeli-only road and possessing a knife. The eight-grader is being held in Hasharon Prison. On January 21, she was sentenced to two months detention, including time served, and her parents were fined 6,000 NLS (US$1,500).
“There is no justification to detain Malak, and we believe they have coerced false confessions out of her,” Malak’s father, Ali Al-Khatib, told Euro-Mid. “Malak attended four court hearings during which her detention was extended for several days. We could only see her in the court; we were not allowed to talk to her. She seemed to be very sick and scared.”
The four other children who were detained and threatened on January 18 then released, are Zuhair Issa (13), Bashar Issa (11), Ahmed Mo’ammar (14) and Huthaifa Hassan (14), from Qariout village near Nablus.
“The children were summoned under the pretext that they entered the Jewish settlement of Illit and ignited a fire. However, the Israeli authorities couldn’t prove it, so the children were released four hours later,” Zuhair’s and Bashar’s uncle, Mujalli Issa, told Euro-Mid. “The children went through a bad experience and are now scared and shocked.”
Euro-Med Observer for Human Rights, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization based in Geneva and with representatives in Ramallah and Nablus in the occupied West Bank, condemns Israel’s policy of detaining children and subjecting them to abusive and inhumane treatment.
“Children are usually detained under the pretext of throwing stones, or participating in demonstrations against occupation. According to international law, such acts are not considered as crimes,” says Ihsan Adel, Euro-Mid legal adviser.
Israeli authorities continue to violate the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including article 37 that states, “No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”
Euro-Mid calls for the immediate release of Malak Al-Khatib and urges the international community to pressure Israel to halt its violations against Palestinian children and to comply with international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.