In Israel the Torture and Abuse of Palestinian Children is Lawful, Relentless and Routine – but if you mention it you will be accused of ‘antisemitism’
Let us remember Keir Stürmer and those Labour MPs who supported the Overseas Operations Bill granting Immunity to Torture by British Agents
There is no doubt about it. If you criticise Israel’s use of torture, Israel being the only country in the world to have legalised torture, then you are an anti-Semite.
Don’t take my word for it. The IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism makes this quite clear stating that:
criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.
In other words if you criticise Israel for something that other countries don’t do then you must be anti-Semitic. Since most countries don’t torture children criticism of Israeli torture is therefore automatically anti-Semitic.
When I was expelled from Labour in February 2018, at the behest of Corbyn and Laura Murray, the second of my 3 charges concerned Louise Ellman, the vile racist MP for Liverpool Riverside and Tel Aviv South, Thomas Ogg, Labour’s barrister waxed furiously in his skeleton argument:
” Mr Greenstein has authored and posted articles on a blog which include comments that are offensive and derisory including but not limited to: accusing Louise Ellman MP of being a “supporter of Israeli child abuse”….
Para 56 asserted that
‘the use of the phrase “child abuse” is deliberately provocative. The phrase evokes sexual abuse, and therefore suggests that Louise Ellman MP, a prominent Jewish Labour MP, supports the same. Greenstein’s summary of the conduct as “child abuse” is an attempt to shame Ms Ellman by the use of emotive language, which is contrary to the Labour Party’s Social Media Policy.’
In vain did I protest that because Ellman was shameless, it was not possible to shame her!
Two parliamentary debates were held on Palestinian child prisoners in the West Bank in the past 4 years. The first Child Prisoners and Detainees: Occupied Palestinian Territories was held on 6 January 2016. The debate concerned a UNICEF Report which concluded that
“the ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process, from the moment of arrest until the child’s prosecution and eventual conviction and sentencing”.
Ellman intervened 3 times during the debate to defend the Israeli military’s treatment of children. The late Jo Cox MP also intervened:
‘evidence from Military Court Watch suggests that 65% of children continue to report being arrested at night in what are described as terrifying raids by the military.’
Ellman intervened again to defend the Israeli military putting all the blame for violence on the children. Ellman was an officer of the Jewish Labour Movement and Chair of Labour Friends of Israel, the main organisations behind the false accusations of anti-Semitism.
The JLM has always protested that accusations of anti-Semitism have nothing to do with Zionism and Israel. Their defence of Ellman when members of her CLP sought to deselect her shows them to be liars.
Two years later, on 7th February 2018, there was another debate Palestinian Children and Israeli Military Detention in which Ellman spoke supporting the Israeli military. Asa Winstanley, the excellent Electronic Intifada journalist, has covered this in his recent article for Middle East Monitor Torturing children is normal for Israel.
Asa noted that:
Ironically, Greenstein’s condemnation of Ellman’s defence of Israeli child abuse was considered to be “abusive language” by Labour’s desiccated bureaucrats. There was plenty of evidence, even then, that Israeli practice towards Palestinian children constitutes child abuse.
So let us consider the evidence. In December 2020 Defence for Children International brought out a comprehensive 82 page report Isolated & Alone with 108 different case studies. They make grim reading. You would not expect the JLM, the overseas wing of the Israeli Labor Party to condemn the torture of children since it was the ILP which introduced the practices.
Out of the 108 cases, 71 (66%) involved children as young as 12 being arrested between midnight and 5.00 a.m. They are dragged out of bed, often not allowed to get dressed, 94% of the children were blindfolded and bound with particularly painful plastic handcuffs. In 77 out of 108 cases (71%), children endured some form of physical violence following arrest. They are forced to crouch on the floor of a military jeep and taken to a military base or interrogation centre. There they will be left for hours, without food or water, before being thrown in a stinking cell.
The children are held in Israel (which is illegal under international law) in solitary confinement with no access to parents or lawyers. Section 4.3 deals with interrogations.
Unlike the children of Jewish settlers, Palestinian children have no right during interrogation to the presence of either lawyers or members of their families. There are no ‘responsible adults’ present.
In at least 102 out of the 108 cases (94 percent), the children had no access to a legal consultation prior to interrogations. 62 children (57 percent) reported that interrogators did not properly inform them of their rights before interrogation, including the right to silence.
The interrogation techniques constitute torture. Bear in mind that the children are as young as 12. The Report describes the interrogations as
‘often mentally and physically coercive, frequently incorporating a combination of intimidation, threats, verbal abuse and physical violence with a clear purpose of obtaining a confession.’
In 86 of 108 cases (80 percent), the children reported being subject to stress positions during interrogation. All their limbs were tied to a metal chair just inches above the floor for prolonged periods; a position they described as acutely painful.
During their confinement attempts are made to recruit the children as informants and when they were transferred to detention centres they were held alongside adult Palestinian informants. This too is contrary to international law.
The DCIP Report said that the isolation of Palestinian children is practiced
solely to obtain a confession for a specific offense or to gather intelligence under interrogation. DCIP has found no evidence demonstrating a legally justifiable use of isolation of Palestinian child detainees, such as for disciplinary, protective, or medical reasons.’
DCIP makes a number of recommendations which UNICEF and others have repeatedly made but the Israeli government refuses to adopt:
• Detention must only be used as a last resort, and only for the shortest appropriate time;
• Children must not be subjected to physical or psychological violence
• Children must have access to legal consultation and parents prior to and during interrogations
• Children must only be arrested during daylight hours
• Children must be properly informed of their right to silence
• Children must not be blindfolded or painfully restrained
• Children must not be subjected to coercive force or threats
• All interrogations must be audio-visually recorded
• Any incriminating evidence obtained during interrogation where a child was not properly and effectively informed of his or her right to silence must be excluded by the military courts
• Any statement made as a result of torture or ill-treatment must be excluded as evidence in any proceeding
• The practice of using solitary confinement on children in Israeli military detention, must be stopped immediately
• The practice of using administrative detention orders against Palestinian children must stop immediately
• All credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be thoroughly and impartially investigated in accordance with international standards, and perpetrators brought promptly to justice and
• Children must not be transferred out of the occupied West Bank in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.2.
The Report also states that the Quisling Palestinian Authority should
• Reissue a declaration accepting the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over crimes committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
• Take efforts that enhance the capacity of former child prisoners to cope with the trauma and negative impact of incarceration after the children’s release from Israeli military detention; and
DCIP recommends that The international community should:
• Demand that Israeli authorities end the military detention and prosecution of Palestinian children;
• Demand that Israeli authorities implement effective accountability measures to ensure all credible reports of torture and ill-treatment are properly investigated
• Ensure that no foreign military aid or assistance is provided to Israeli military and police units where credible information exists that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights, including involvement in the arrest and detention of Palestinian children;
The DCIP Report compiled 108 case reports. I have randomly selected just 3 Reports.
Case No. 4
Name: Obada H.
Date of arrest: February 16, 2016
Days in isolation: 12
Around 3:30 a.m. Obada was awakened by an Israeli soldier pointing his rifle at him and telling him to get up. Israeli soldiers searched Obada and pushed him against the wall. Soldiers then tied Obada’s hands behind his back using a single plastic cord and blindfolded him. A soldier hit him twice with the barrel of his rifle while forcing Obada onto the metal floor of the jeep, beside a dog. At an unknown location, Obada was detained outside standing up and physically assaulted by soldiers. He was asked about his health and detained with another person on a bench. Around 5 p.m., Obada was transferred to another unknown location where he was photographed, before arriving at Al-Jalame interrogation and detention center. After undergoing a strip search, Obada asked to use the bathroom.
A soldier proceeded to lock Obada in a small bathroom overnight. When Obada knocked on the door to be let out, an Israeli soldier assaulted him with a taser. Obada refused to eat the meals brought to him in the bathroom so soldiers moved him into a solitary confinement cell. He refused to eat for another day, falling unconscious on the third day. When he regained consciousness, Obada found himself at a clinic where soldiers were trying to feed him through a tube, but Obada refused, demanding to know why he had been arrested. Jailers returned him to his cell for an hour or so, then took him into an interrogation room. The interrogator tied his hands and feet to the legs of a metal chair. The interrogator slapped him and shouted at him. Obada was interrogated seven times while in solitary confinement, for one or two hours each time. Failing to confess, guards transferred him to Megiddo prison for two days. There, he appeared to be exposed to informants. When he was transferred back into an isolation cell in Al-Jalame, Obada pretended to have strangled himself with a thread from the mattress. Jailers entered the cell and kicked him. They then moved him into another room where his hands and feet were tied to the bed for two days. Obada never confessed to any of the accusation
Case No. 6
Name: Khaled A.
Date of arrest: February 25, 2016
Days in isolation: 21
Israeli soldiers woke Khaled from his bed at 3 a.m. and ordered him to get up. He was blindfolded and his hands were bound with a single plastic cord. A group of soldiers physically assaulted him outside, punching and kicking him, and hitting him with their rifle stocks. He was transported on the floor of a military vehicle to Al-Mascobiyya interrogation and detention center, where he was photographed, strip searched and asked general questions about his health. Khaled was then placed in a small cell which had only a mattress, blanket and toilet. Cold air flowed into the cell from the manually controlled ventilation gaps and there were no windows. While in isolation, Khaled was interrogated multiple times with severe techniques, including threats, physical violence, and being restrained in a painful stress position for five consecutive days, amounting to torture. He was also transferred to another location, Eshel prison, where he was exposed to informants. All interrogations took place without the presence of a lawyer or family member. Khaled stated that he was never informed of his rights nor shown any documents explaining them. He also was not provided the opportunity to consult with a lawyer prior to interrogation. Khaled confessed to throwing Molotov cocktails.
Case No. 9
Name: Fadel T.
Date of arrest: March 7, 2016
Days in isolation: 10
Around 5 a.m., Fadel woke to the sounds of Israeli soldiers breaking down the door to his family’s apartment. Masked soldiers stormed the place. Fadel was blindfolded and his hands were bound behind his back with two plastic cords. Soldiers did not provide a reason for the arrest or a warrant. Soldiers insulted and physically assaulted the boy outside, punching, slapping, and kicking him. He was transported in a military jeep to Dotan settlement, where soldiers asked Fadel questions about his health and detained him outside, still in his pajamas and blindfolded. He was not provided food or water and soldiers refused to let Fadel use the bathroom. Around 11 a.m., Israel Prison Service guards handcuffed and shackled the boy, then transported him in a closed metal cage to Al-Jalame interrogation and detention center. At Al-Jalame, a jailer strip searched Fadel and placed him in isolation. The cell conditions were poor, including 24-hour lighting which hurt the boy’s eyes and gray walls that had coarse surfaces. While in isolation, Fadel was interrogated for hours at a time in a stress position. The interrogator tied his hands and feet to a metal chair three or four inches above the floor. The interrogator informed Fadel of his rights, such as his right to remain silent. Interrogations took place without the presence of a lawyer or family member. Fadel was transferred to Megiddo prison for two days, where he was detained with informants, then returned to Al-Jalame. He confessed to throwing stones and Molotov cocktails
The treatment of Palestinian children in detention is just part of the overall picture of Israeli disdain for the lives of Palestinian childen
Ha’aretz reporter Amira Hass [Palestinian Teenagers Bashar and Yousef Join a Grim Statistic: Shot by Israeli Forces] describes how 787 West Bank Palestinians, including 155 minors, were wounded last year by either sponge-tipped or live bullets. Bashar lost an eye, Yousef has skull fractures. Both will require long convalescences
632 were wounded by sponge or rubber-tipped metal bullets, including 127 minors, while 155 were wounded by live fire, including 28 minors. That’s in addition to the 1,513 who were suffocated by tear gas and needed treatment, 195 minors.
The soldiers’ bullets hit the teenagers in the head. Bashar lost his right eye and was given a temporary prosthetic eye covered by a bandage; he’s now waiting to get his permanent prosthetic eye – maybe in Jordan, maybe in Israel. Yousef suffers from skull fractures, incessant headaches and a loss of balance.
Each was a hairsbreadth from joining the statistics of those killed by Israeli fire in 2020 – 25.
He and his older brother attend the Al-Umma high school in the nearby town of A-Ram. They were returning from school at about 1:45 P.M. on November 17. They got off the minibus at the Qalandiyah checkpoint, which divides the road out of Ramallah into two. One branch curves to the east, while the other passes through the checkpoint and is open only to cars with Israeli license plates.
Someone in the Israel Police saw fit to send a large team from the Border Police to this spot at that specific hour. The Border Police are known for their thuggish behaviour.
A police spokesman told Haaretz that
“during enforcement operations at Kafr Aqab, Border Police forces and Jerusalem municipality inspectors seized 40 boxes of firecrackers and 250 boxes of illegally owned cigarettes, confiscated two cars with the wrong license plates and issued eight traffic tickets.”
Bashar and his brother entered the refugee camp. Bashar noticed that several policemen had entered some of the buildings at the entrance to the camp, including an UNRWA clinic, the office of the Popular Committee and a children’s-activity center. He also saw a tear gas grenade launcher mounted on one of the two police patrol cars.
“During the operation, disturbances of the peace broke out involving about 100 rioters, who threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the security forces …. Border Police fighters responded to the rioters, who endangered their lives, by firing riot dispersal weapons, in accordance with the regulations. There was no use of live fire.”
Moreover, they said, one member of the Border Police was “wounded in the head and taken to the hospital with severe abrasions on his face.”
‘As if my eye had left its socket’
Bashar remembers the stun grenades and tear gas fired by the Border Police as he entered the camp. “People began running away, and shop owners closed up,” he told Haddad of B’Tselem.
Then, he said, teens and young men from the camp began confronting the police. They piled up tin and other scrap metal on the road to block access to the camp and threw stones. He didn’t mention any Molotov cocktails in his detailed account to B’Tselem.
He estimated that about 30 members of the Border Police faced off with around 100 Palestinians, most of them between 15 and 17.
Bashar and his brother were caught between two groups of Border Police who had deployed at different locations. The stun grenades, tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets and rubber-coated metal bullets prevented the boys from continuing on their way home.
At around 2:30 P.M., Bashar’s brother ran toward a nearby school, while Bashar hid on the street corner next to the big mosque. Suddenly, he saw some kind of ammunition flying at him. A steel bullet? One tipped with rubber or sponge? Maybe a tear gas canister? He doesn’t know.
All he remembers is that this hard object hit the ground; then he felt something hit his eye and something explode inside it. He believes the shooter was one of the policemen deployed on rooftops at the entrance to the camp.
“I immediately felt as if my eye had left its socket. I put my hand on my wounded eye and felt how the blood was flowing. I began screaming, ‘I’ve been hit, I’ve been hit.’ I wanted to get away, but after walking a few steps, I couldn’t see anymore. I lost my balance and fell down.”
Naturally the Border Police did nothing to help him. After a long delay, caused by the road being blocked because drivers and passengers had fled their cars swathed in clouds of tear gas, fearing they would be hurt by the stun grenades, tear gas or bullets.Israeli soldiers hold their weapons during a Palestinian protest against Jewish settlements, in Kafr Qaddum, the West Bank, November 13, 2020.Credit: Mohamad Torokman/ReutersA man Bashar didn’t know volunteered to take him in his car. Bashar sat beside him, his eye bleeding, trying to mop up the blood with the tissues that were in the car.
“I was confused and frightened,” he told Haddad. “The guy who drove me kept trying to calm me down, telling me, ‘Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid; we’ll soon be at the hospital.’”
The main hospital in Ramallah didn’t have a unit specializing in eye injuries, so it sent Bashar and his father to an eye clinic in downtown El Bireh nearby which in turn sent him to a private hospital north of Ramallah, which also turned out not to have an ophthalmology ward.
“Only at 10 P.M. did we finally get to a place that could treat him – the hospital at An-Najah University in Nablus. He went into surgery at about 10:30.
Unfortunately the doctors were unable to save Bashar’s eye. His father described him as “one of those quiet children who study,” “He’d play a bit of soccer and then come home. I was released from prison in the mid-’90s, during a kinder time, and I hoped my children would also be able to live in such a time.
“I’ve never seen Saris, but I’m a Sarisian,” he added. “They expelled us from there. Now, in Qalandiyah as well, they don’t let us live in peace, with all their raids.”
‘I still don’t remember’
Yousef Taha of Kafr Qaddum was hit in the back on November 27, apparently by a rubber-coated steel bullet. The force of the impact made him fall on his face. Fractures were later found both around his eye and in the back of his skull.
A neighbor saw him leaving an unfinished building. As Yousef reached the stairwell, the neighbor heard a shot and saw him fall. He looked up the hill and saw seven soldiers around 15 meters from the building.
He ran toward Yousef and called an ambulance. Once Yousef was inside it, he also called the boy’s father, Abd al-Fatah, who rushed to the Rafidia Hospital in Nablus in another car.
The Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit said a group of rioters had been burning tires and throwing stones there.
The force at the scene used crowd control weapons to disperse the rioters and ensure the safety of residents of the area,” it added. “We are aware of the claims about a wounded Palestinian.”
Because Kafr Qaddum’s direct road to Nablus is blocked, the ambulance, instead of driving due east, took the wounded boy west along a road that winds through the orchards. It then turned south to the village of Hajjah, went from there to the village of Al-Funduq and finally turned east toward Nablus. So instead of taking around 15 minutes, the trip to Nablus took about 40.
When Yousef’s father arrived at Rafidia Hospital, he found his son oscillating between consciousness and unconsciousness.
“One day I woke up and found myself in the hospital,” Yousef said in a faint voice. “I didn’t remember anything about what happened, and I still don’t remember.”
When he reads, he closes his right eye, which was injured in the fall. Yes, it hurts, a lot, he admitted. He takes pain relievers “moderately, so as not to get addicted,” his father said. He preferred that his son not be photographed in this condition.
Altogether, 214 residents of Kafr Qaddum have been wounded by IDF fire this year, including 36 minors. Of these, 139 suffered damage from tear gas and needed medical treatment on the spot or at a clinic, 65 were hit by rubber-coated metal bullets and five by live fire. Another was hurt by a tear gas canister that hit him directly. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which collects data about all the wounded, said its statistics don’t include the number of people traumatized by the violence they experienced.
Abd al-Fatah Taha went to Amman to finish high school immediately after Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967. He then trained to become a pilot in Morocco and joined the PLO. Later, he became a civilian pilot, and he returned with Arafat in 1994, serving as one of the eight airmen who piloted Arafat’s helicopter until the second intifada erupted in 2000.
“My children ask me why I came back, saying it would surely be better abroad,” he said. “And I tell them I always dreamed of returning, and I even was willing to live in a cave on our own plot of land, which we leased to shepherds.”
In an editorial Ha’aretz reported how Harun Abu Aram, 24, of the West Bank village of al-Rakiz, in the South Hebron Hills, was shot in the neck at close range Friday after confronting soldiers who had seized a generator from a neighbor’s home that had been razed. He was admitted in critical condition to the hospital in Yatta before being transferred to Hebron’s Ahli Hospital.
The IDF said soldiers had been sent to the scene to stop illegal construction and that
“a violent disturbance developed involving about 150 Palestinians that included stone-throwing on a massive scale,” to which soldiers responded by “using crowd-dispersal methods and firing into the air.”
As is normally the case when video evidence is available, the Israeli army version of events is a tissue of lies. It shows Abu Aram trying to wrest the generator – the size of a medium carton – from the soldiers’ hands. In the course of the struggle Abu Aram was shot suddenly – a direct shot at his head – from point-blank range.
The editorial states that:
If culprits are found, they are nearly certain to get off cheaply, since in Israel nothing is cheaper than Palestinian lives. But the details of this incident are particularly disturbing: How does a home demolition end with the point-blank shooting of a Palestinian man, who remains in critical condition?
The construction was ‘illegal’ because in the vast majority of cases Palestinians do not and never will receive building permits. Unlike settlers who nearly always do receive such permits. As Ha’aretz concludes:
These demolitions are not the way that local zoning law is enforced in a properly run state. This is a bloody war for control of land whose purpose is to preclude the establishment of a Palestinian state. Israel is willing to go to great lengths to prevent Palestinians from living on this land, as per settlers’ demands – as far as to shoot a man who tried to prevent the confiscation of a generator in the neck.