RAMALLAH, November 26 (JMCC) - More than sixty Israeli experts on children and youth including physicians, writers and lawyers called on the Israeli government to prevent the harsh and sometimes violent treatment of Palestinian children suspected of stone-throwing in east Jerusalem
The open letter urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to ensure that the detention and investigation of East Jerusalem minors follow the law.
The letter comes in reaction to increasing testimonies of police violations of the laws specially defined for minors. Children have been dragged from their beds at night and faced interrogation without telling their parents as they were being forced to incriminate friends and relatives as a condition for release. These are just some of the accusations of police misconduct in East Jerusalem stated in the letter.
The testimonies of children come from those under the age of 12, the minimal criminal liability age. Testimonies collected by the rights group Defence For Children International (DCI) show that in the four-week period from October 8 to November 3, 21 minors were arrested in Silwan
, two of them under the age of 12.
The letter highlights cases in which police officers “subjected [the child] to rough and abusive interrogations” and cites the case of a ten year old that returned from an interrogation with a bruised back, claiming the police had beaten him. The signatories expressed their “deepest concern for the physical and mental welfare and for the prospects of the proper development of children and youths from East Jerusalem in view of police conduct during their detention and interrogation.”
The day before the letter was submitted, seven-year-old Adam el-Eshrik from Silwan neighborhood was severely beaten by two border police officials say his family. “I was going to school,” says Adam, “I ran away from the soldiers but they chased after me. They grabbed me from the supermarket where I was hiding and hit me with their M16 rifles”. A big bruise lies across his left cheek and his knee is swollen. There were clashes between some youths throwing rocks and the police say reports.
“I went to the police station, and asked them why they hit my son,” says Adam’s mother. “They told me he was throwing rocks. He was not, but even if he was what harm can he do? He is seven years old!” Adam’s mother found him, an hour after the incident, hunched and shaking, terrified, behind a garbage bin.
His father, Mansur Resheq, took him to be examined at Sharei Tsedek hospital in west Jerusalem. “I am frightened of the police,” says Adam. “He missed school today, he is too frightened to leave the house,” his mother told jmcc.org.
Israeli Police confirmed that more than 1,200 criminal cases against East Jerusalem minors who were suspected of involvement in stone-throwing incidents were opened in the past year.
“We feel there has been a deterioration in the past year [in incidents of police misconduct in East Jerusalem,” says Ronit Sela from the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, the body that coordinated the letter. “We have seen a peak in the numbers of families requiring legal advice.” ACRI hopes that with the weight of more than sixty of Israel’s child professionals to support it, the government will react to the letter and work improve the legal conduct of the police force in East Jerusalem.