At-Tuwani - Palestinian minors in the Israeli prisons

“Run at the Sumud Freedom Garden, there are soldiers!”, screamed to us a child. We find Hafez, his brother and his son Amoudi with some soldiers. The situation is calm, when other jeeps of army arrive. The commander starts to make some questions to Amoudi, in a bad and pushing way. A soldier comes in a threatening way near the children, he is looking for the provocation. We don’t have time to exchange words between volunteers when two soldiers grab Hafez for an arm and take him away. His daughters start to scream.
The situation gets worse in a second, we turn in a moment hearing someone screaming: the hands of two soldiers are on the neck of Amoudi as bolt cutters. Our throat is closed when we see the small Hussem running behind the jeep where there is his father inside, handcuffed and blindfolded. Angry, we stop a soldier who is running behind him and who took his arm. Sometimes it’s difficult remembering that there is a man under the uniform.

Everything ends as quickly as it started. We look around stunned. For all the day we stay in contact with Israeli and Palestinian activists who are following the situation: Hafez and his brother get released in the evening, both no news of Amoudi.
The boy’s trial is the day after, with a charge of aggression to a soldier. Anger boils in our veins. The activists call us, asking if we were there and we have videos. As usual, he’s the Palestinian one that have to proof not to be guilty.
We collect all the videos and send them to the lawyer. Finally we get a call: our videos show that the charge was without proof. Amoudi never moved, until he got taken by soldiers.
In the evening we see him arriving. Hugs, smiles, it’s a party, as nothing happened. Only when Amoudi closes the door and sits on the sofa, he starts to tell us about what he passes through: in the jeep, in the police station, during and after the trial. We look at him while he is speaking, cherishing a moment so delicate. He has the same smile as usual on his face, joking as usual. He is only 15 years old.

From October 2020, the Israeli prison system stopped to give informations to the NGOs about detainees. By the end of September 2020, 157 minors were held inside Israeli prisons, as prisoners or under administrative detentions. Other two minors are illegally inside Israeli prisons on Israeli territory, without previous coordination with their lawyers.
The arrest is generally made by soldiers after a possible charge against the person. If there would be serious offences, the Shin Bet interrogates the accused. Some days after the arrest, the Palestinian is taken before the military court, where the judge decides if release him or keep him under detention until the end of the proceeding. The first hearing is generally also the first moment when the accused meets his lawyer. The rates of conviction are over 99%: generally trials are conclude by a plea of guilty, even if that’s not the truth, to end quickly the proceeding. In September 2009, a juvenile court has been created within the Military Courts. Notwithstanding at the beginning it should have a statute, this provision has never been implemented. Now children until 11 years old can’t be judged or arrested by a Court (also if that happens daily), because the imputability is from 12 years old. For someone younger than 15 years old, the maximum punishment is 1 year, but if the charge regards a punishment up to 5 years, there are no limits.