Palestinian prisoners in the Ofer military camp and prison, near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, are protesting the Israeli Prison Service’s (IPS) decision to transfer 60 minor Palestinian prisoners to the Damon prison inside Israel, without their adult overseers who are from among the prisoners themselves. The adult prisoners are reportedly worried that minors who have been transferred are at risk of being mistreated and abused, and of having their rights taken away by the prison guards at the new prison in the absence of their adult overseers. The adult prisoners usually take care of the minors and help them adjust to their new situation, including representing them in any dispute with the IPS.
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) in a statement strongly condemned this latest Israeli violation against Palestinian minor prisoners. It said that Israeli authorities, after transferring the minors to Damon prison, have forcibly placed them in solitary confinement cells. In the Ofer prison too, where the minors were originally being detained, two were forced to stay together in one small cell. PPS added that the Israeli prison authorities intend to use the same policy for all detained minor Palestinian prisoners in the Majeddo and Damon prison as well.
According to the PPS, Israel is currently detaining at least 200 Palestinian children, arrested in the span of the last few months. They continue to be subjected to Israeli excesses and violations, including repeated invasions, violent searches of their rooms, the barring of certain types of food, prosecution in Israeli military courts and the unnecessary use of force, in a blatant denial of their basic human rights. The 200 Palestinian children are part of the total 5,000 Palestinian prisoners currently languishing in Israeli prisons and detention centers.
Data released recently by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) has revealed that over the last few months, Israeli police raids have been conducted with increasing regularity in the Issawiya neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, and more than 600 residents have been arrested, with more than a third of them being minors. The raids are characterized by their violent nature, with the police conducting night-time arrests, questioning the minors in their parents’ absence, forcing the minors to ride in patrol cars to scare and intimidate them, along with unnecessary handcuffing and use of force.
Prisoner support and human rights organizations claim that approximately 700 Palestinian children under the age of 18 from the occupied West Bank are being prosecuted each year in Israeli military courts following their arrest, interrogation and detention by the Israeli army.