Fifteen-year-old Yousef Mesheh was sleeping in a bunk bed when Israeli forces stormed his home at 3am. Immediately, the teenage Palestinian said he was lying on the floor when troops beat him and hurled insults at him, one of the soldiers putting a rifle butt into Yousef’s mother’s chest. Stabbing, locking the mother in the bedroom, the mother screaming for her sons.
Youssef and his 16-year-old brother, Wael, were taken from their home in the Balata refugee camp in the northern West Bank. Yousef wore a sleeveless undershirt and could see nothing without his glasses. “I can’t forget that night,” Youssef told the Associated Press from his living room, which was adorned with pictures of Wael, who is still in custody. “I can still hear gunshots and screams when I sleep.”
Israeli forces arrested and interrogated hundreds of Palestinian teenagers in the occupied West Bank in 2022, according to a forthcoming report by Israeli human rights group HaMoked. The charges against those arrested ranged from being without permission from Israel to throwing stones and throwing Molotov cocktails. Some teenagers say they were arrested to extract information about their neighbors and family members.
Hamoked said most of the military’s pre-planned arrests of minors last year involved children being taken from their homes in the middle of the night. After being dragged out of bed, 14-year-olds were interrogated sleep-deprived and disorientated.
Access to water, food and toilets was often withheld. Yousef said soldiers beat him when he asked to defecate during his seven-hour journey to the detention center.
The Israeli military claims it has legal authority to arrest minors at its discretion during late-night raids. It is against Israel’s legal commitment to
Hamoked director Jessica Montel said, “We have begun to demand that night arrests of children be a last resort. The rights group said the Israeli government, in response to Hamoked’s Supreme Court petition, When he asked parents to bring their children in for questioning, he said there had been some improvement two years ago. I only interrogated the children a few times.
In nearly 300 cases HaMoked tracked in the West Bank last year, not a single family member received a subpoena. Misdemeanors and cases where children were acquitted, as in Yousef’s case, were no exception. HaMoked said the numbers were incomplete because it didn’t believe many similar cases would be reported.
“They are not following the procedures they created,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, director of the Defense International Accountability Program for Children in the Palestinian Territory. “It’s part of the interrogation philosophy that children are frightened and exhausted.”
In response to a request for comment, the Israeli military said it was seeking to summon Palestinian children with no serious criminal record for misdemeanor charges. It argued that it would not apply where the summons would prejudice its purpose.
The military will not comment on Youssef’s arrest, but his brother Wael has been charged with charges related to “serious financial crimes,” including “contacting enemies,” “bringing in illegal money,” and supporting “illegal organizations.” said it is being done. These indictments typically reflect instances of Palestinians communicating with people in Hamas-controlled Gaza.
HaMoked noted that most cases were quickly dropped, but the late-night arrest haunted the children ever since. Youssef “is not what he used to be” since his November 7 arrest, his mother Hanadi Meshe told her AP. He can’t concentrate on school. He doesn’t play soccer anymore. She also sleeps beside him, hugging him in his nightmares.
“I feel like I’m being watched all the time,” Youssef said. “I am scared when my mother wakes me up in the morning to go to school.” There are many similar stories in the area. The northern city of Nablus has emerged as a major flashpoint of violence after Israel launched a crackdown on the West Bank last year in response to Palestinian attacks in Israel.
Last year, Israeli forces killed at least 146 Palestinians, including 34 children, the Israeli rights group B’Tselem reported, adding that 2022 will see the highest number of casualties for Palestinians in the West Bank in 18 years. issued
Most of the Palestinians killed were extremists, according to the Israeli military. However, young people who protested the attack or were not involved in the confrontation were also killed. Meanwhile, Palestinian attacks killed at least 31 Israelis last year. Israel says the operation is intended to dismantle militant networks and deter future attacks.
The Palestinians have condemned the raids as a collective punishment aimed at reinforcing Israel’s 55-year unrestricted occupation of land they want for a future state. It occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Night arrest investigations are not limited to the West Bank. Israeli police also conduct regular raids in Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.
Last fall, near Jerusalem in Beit Hanina, Rania Elias heard a knock on her door before dawn. Her youngest son, her 16-year-old Shadi Khoury, slept in her underwear. Israeli police broke into her house, knocked Cory to the floor and punched her in the face. When police dragged him to a Jerusalem detention center for questioning, she said her blood was all over.
“I can’t imagine what it feels like to have failed to save your child,” Elias said.
In response to a request for comment, Israeli police have charged Khoury with being part of a group that injured a passenger by throwing stones at a Jewish family’s car on October 12.
Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new ultranationalist government, parents say they are more concerned than ever for their children. I’m an Israeli settler.
“This is the darkest moment,” said activist Murad Sitawi. Shitawi’s 17-year-old son Khaled was arrested last March in a nighttime raid on his home in the West Bank town of Kfar Qaddum. “I am worried about my sons.”