MachsomWatch Alerts - March-April 2010 | Machsomwatch
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MachsomWatch Alerts - March-April 2010

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Friday, 30 April, 2010




Children’s Tales

“A child is any human being under the age of eighteen” – thus the United Nations convention on children’s rights. This definition is accepted by human rights organizations in Israel and worldwide. But wonder of wonders: the UN definition is not accepted by the Israeli army, that defines as minor only the Palestinian who is not yet sixteen-years old.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children are the future generation of the Palestinian state. When it will be founded, these boys will be the adult citizens who will face our own grown-up children. With our very hands and deeds, humiliating and harassing, we are responsible for shaping the consciousness of tomorrow’s enemy.


Suheib Khader Abdul Aziz Burkan of Hebron, born in May 1995, a schoolchild, was taken into custody on February 24th, 2010. The boy, who looks young for his age, wears brown convict garb his size. (Clearly the Israeli Prison Service is well equipped even for its hundreds of minor-aged inmates).


“Minors” in the Occupied Territories are those who have yet to turn sixteen. The new regulations (2009) of the “Juvenile Court” do not include the procedure of arrest and interrogation of minors. Only after an indictment has been prepared for a minor is his trial held by a judge who has undergone training for prosecuting and judging boys and minors in consideration of their young age.


And here, Suheib Bukan has been interrogated like other Palestinian minors under arrest, without the presence of a parent and/or social worker, sometimes late at night and by interrogators trained to extract confessions from adult suspects by various modes of action (moderate physical pressure?). Lawyers know from experience that most of the minors under interrogation confess to their alleged offenses.


Suheib is accused of “hurling stones at an Israeli army jeep intending to hit the jeep or its passengers”. He has not confessed. He has denied the testimony of the soldier sitting in the jeep who had identified the stone thrower.


In court, Suheib sat on the defendants’ bench among adult detaineesinfo-icon and stared around him. The defense attorney, Ayad Misak, emphasized that Suheib denies the charges, and that the soldier testified 15 minutes after the stone was hurled at the jeep (and hit no one), without having had any eye contact with Suheib all that time.


The defense attorney reminded the judge that when it comes to minors, an alternative to custody should be considered, especially in light of the fact that the minor is held with adults at the detention facility under conditions which are blatantly improper. After the break, the judge announced that custody will be prolonged until the end of the legal proceedings. (Ofer Military Court, March 2nd, 2010).



 At the Pharmacy Checkpoint, in the pouring rain, a soldier stops a child on his way to school: the metal detector bleeps as the child crosses. The child is drenched and nervous, sitting on the curb, the soldier towering above him. The child refuses to open his schoolbag for inspection. The soldier insists, the child persists. Finally, with our mediation, the child give in, the bag opens and the “Judgment Day weapon” is disclosed: a metal ruler! The suspect ruler is confiscated on the spot. After a moment or two the soldier realizes this is ludicrous and gives it back to the child, yelling at us not to interfere again and to get back and in general just to look on and keep silent. (Hebron, 10.11.20)



A foreign photographer we met told us that at 4:30 p.m. as he stood inside the checkpoint observing, he saw a blue (civilian) policeman accompanied by a private security guard with his gun drawn removing a 13or 14-year old child from the pedestrian line, and making him stand legs splayed against the wall. The policeman searched the boy’s body and hit him in the head, and the three vanished through one of the gatesinfo-icon leading to the back side of the checkpoint. We asked three soldiers about this. One of them confirmed the event, but explained that this child “keeps trying again and again to cross the checkpoint without a permit”. This time the boy has learned his lesson. (October 19th, 2008)


Um Tuba – Khirbet Tawaneh

The little children, on their way to the regional school, must pass near the chicken coops of Chavat Maon settlement. The settlers explain that these children are a “security risk” and therefore let their dogs loose and brutalize these tiny children. In a discussion of the Knesset Committee for the Protection of the Child, undertaken at our initiative, it was decided that the army would escort the children and protect them both morning and afternoon on their way to and from school. The promised escort is often too late in showing up and the children are still at the mercy of the settlers and their dogs.


A trip to the Biblical Zoo and other sites in Jerusalem

Last week we received two phone calls regarding children’s outings from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. This taught us that no school trips to Jerusalem are held on Fridays. The little children might take part in the “riots” at Temple Mount. We were stunned! The Biblical Zoo is very far from Temple Mount, but order is order and law is law.


Upon arriving at the Bethlehem Checkpoint we thought we were hallucinating. We saw little children playing soccer at the entrance to the checkpoint compound. But our surprise didn’t last long. A phone call from the school principal alerted us. The teachers, naturally needing entry permits to Jerusalem, are allowed to cross the checkpoint. But not the children. The principal tried to explain to us that he does not intend to spend a day at the zoo, and these children are the ones looking forward to this trip. After a lengthy delay the teachers and children managed to visit Jerusalem and perhaps even enjoy looking at the elephant and lion in the zoo…