Israel has for a long time now committed a number of crimes against Palestinian women and children, but has just recently hit a new low – they have officially taken into custody the world’s youngest reported prisoner to date — an 11 month old girl.
The infant, Balqis Ghawadra, was attempting to visit her father on Wednesday, November 26, 2014, in the Ishel Israeli prison in Beer Sheba, with her mother and older 2 year-old sibling, when they were suddenly separated and held in confinement.
Director of the Ahrar Center Fu’ad Khuffash, currently working to free the family, stated:
This is a flagrant violation of human rights, and a crime against humanity.
While this latest news is simply horrid just by itself, this kind of behavior towards Palestinian children is hardly surprising given Israel’s track record.
From May through September of this year, over 991 children have been imprisoned, according to the latest records that are available from DCI-Palestine, who keeps track of the figures.
Part of the overall Israeli strategy is to prey on these young children and recruit them as informants, who are considered to be the weakest links. It is estimated that out of every 10 people that are arrested, four of them are children.
According to those youths who have been in confinement, a variety of methods are used, including beatings, threatening with long sentences, repercussions against the family, sexual assault, and public shaming.
The Israelis can and do detain children for up to 6 months without trial even when charges are never formally filed. And, to top it off, the detention is often based on “secret evidence.”
Israeli Military Order 1591 empowers the military to detain children as young as 12 if there are reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention. This period can even be extended by additional six-month periods indefinitely.
Israel continues to operate in this fashion despite having signed both the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture.
It clearly states:
No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences [sic] committed by persons below eighteen years of age.
Yet, it is general practice for Israeli military police to raid the house of an unsuspecting family in the middle of the night, drag a child out of his bed, separate him from his parents, and bring him into questioning, in direct violation of the same international customs it has agreed to.
A large percentage of the children they do take into captivity are abused sexually and emotionally, as well. In fact, around 40 percent of Palestinian children are sexually abused by Israeli soldiers, according to a report by the Palestinian Prisoners Club.