Youngest children held by Israel jailed for months

Israel has sentenced two of the youngest Palestinian children in military custody to months in prison.

Abdel Raouf al-Bilawi, 13, from Dheisheh refugee camp in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, was sentenced to four months for throwing stones at occupation forces, the most common charge leveled against Palestinian children in Israeli military courts, according to prisoners rights group Samidoun.

Al-Bilawi was detained by occupation forces in December and his trial was postponed seven times, until he was sentenced on 22 January. He was also fined $100.

Israeli occupation forces have a policy of deliberately maiming and disabling Palestinian youths who resist their frequent invasions of Dheisheh refugee camp. Many others are arrested.

Al-Bilawi is currently thought to be the youngest Palestinian prisoner held by Israel, according to Shehab News Agency.

In this video, his mother says that Israel does not see her son as a child and treats him like a grown man.

“They are not at all taking into consideration that he’s a child.”

Al-Bilawi was interrogated for hours, shackled and verbally abused until he confessed under pressure, his family told local media.

His older brother Ala al-Bilawi has been jailed by Israel for the last six months.

Kangaroo courts

“Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes an estimated 500 to 700 children each year in military courts lacking fundamental fair trial rights,” according to Defense for Children International-Palestine.

Israel’s military kangaroo courts have a near-100 percent conviction rate for Palestinians.

There are currently about 350 Palestinian children in Israeli jails.

Youngest female prisoner

Razan Abu Sal, 13, was also sentenced on 16 January to four months in prison and a fine of approximately $700, also allegedly for throwing stones.

Razan, from al-Arroub refugee camp in Hebron, is the youngest Palestinian female prisoner held by Israel.

She was arrested with her sister Roa on 13 January in Hebron. Her sister’s case was delayed by the military court.

Palestinian teenager Muhammad Bilal Tamimi was brought before the Israeli military court on 28 January, but no decision was made to release him from detention, which is in its third week.

His mother, Manal Tamimi, wrote about Muhammad’s condition in a Facebook post. This was the first time his parents were able to see him since he was arrested.

“[He] looks very tired, his face turned to yellow and he lost around seven kilos or more,” she wrote. “He didn’t have enough food or sleep during the past 17 days and he went through so many interrogation sessions days and nights.”

Muhammad, 19, was taken prisoner during a night raid on the village of Nabi Saleh on 11 January.

He is a relative of Palestinian child prisoner Ahed Tamimi.

Seized while getting pizza

Abdul Khalik Burnat, 17, from the Palestinian village of Bilin, was also brought before the Ofer military court on 28 January after some 50 days in prison.

His father Iyad Burnat called it “a long day of deliberate humiliations and insults.”

Writing on Facebook, Iyad described: “A court filled with soldiers wearing military uniforms and a child in a cage, his feet in chains, wearing a brown uniform and a broad smile. A smile that says, I am strong!”

Like with so many other children, occupation forces accuse Abdul Khalik of throwing stones at the army or its fortifications.

His father Iyad is a prominent advocate of unarmed resistance in Bilin, who featured in the award-winning documentary 5 Broken Cameras.

Abdul Khalik was “kidnapped, beaten and detained on the night of 10 December while getting pizza along with his friends Hamzah Al-Khatib and Malik Rahdi,” according to Samidoun.

A year ago, Abdul Khalik was shot in the head with a rubber-coated bullet. Israeli forces also previously detained him in a night raid in March 2017, while he was under treatment for his injuries, Samidoun added.

Abdul Khalik’s next hearing was scheduled for 11 February.

Medical neglect

On 25 January, Israel’s high court denied the appeal of a woman with severe burns.

Israa Jaabis, 32, appealed her 11-year sentence citing her “inability to perform essential functions behind bars and the lack of adequate medical treatment provided to her,” according to Samidoun.

Sixty percent of her body is covered in burns and she has lost eight fingers. Jaabis needs multiple surgeries, suffers intense pain and cannot care for herself.

Jaabis, from occupied East Jerusalem, sustained severe burns and other injuries after a cooking gas canister she was transporting caused a fire in her car in October 2015. She was then accused of attempting to detonate the car when she was hundreds of meters from an Israeli checkpoint.

“The situation was treated as a ‘terror attack’ rather than a medical emergency by the occupation forces on the scene,” Samidoun said.

Her family says Jaabis was moving to a new apartment in East Jerusalem and had been transferring furniture for days, including the gas canister when it exploded.

Jaabis had reportedly been told that she would lose her Jerusalem residency if she did not move back to the city.

She is one of 34 Palestinian women, including eight girls, currently being held in HaSharon prison, and one of almost 60 Palestinian women held by Israel.

Death from cancer

Palestinian prisoner Hussein Husni Atallah, 57, died of cancer on 20 January, after spending more than 20 years behind Israeli bars.

Atallah’s son, Muhammad, told the Ma’an News Agency that the family learned of his death from the Red Cross after a severe deterioration in his health.

An Israel court denied repeated requests from his lawyers to release him, despite medical reports from the Red Cross and the prison doctor attesting to the severity of his illness.

After losing consciousness, Atallah was reportedly transferred from Ramle prison to Israel’s Asaf Harofeh hospital.

The Palestinian Authority’s prisoners commission and the Palestinian Prisoners Club condemned Israel’s refusal to allow Atallah to spend his final days with his family.

Meanwhile, Ayoub al-Asa, 33, from the West Bank city of Bethlehem, has been on hunger strike for approximately 20 days.

Israel transferred him from solitary confinement in Ofer prison to solitary confinement in the Naqab prison on 27 January in retaliation for his fast.

Al-Asa is protesting the extension of his detention without charge or trial since he was arrested in June 2017.

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The Zionist heretics have stolen your homeland, and at the same time robbed us of our identity. They occupy Palestine since 1948. At the same time they brutally occupy Jews/Judaism since 1897.

The Zionist occupation of Jewish identity could be illustrated by an example: The Zionist regime attempted to rewrite history in order to ruin the historical friendship that existed between Jews and Arabs - but failed.

After all, we are a grateful nation and remember the truth:

And the truth is that Jews have always enjoyed immaculate living conditions in Arab countries and were always treated with great respect and honour by the population and the government. No anti-Semitism has existed in Arab lands. Ever.

And although today, these heretics try to drag young Jews to their army, using violence and brutality - they will fail again. Jews are going to military prisons rather than transgress even one iota of our religion !

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Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.