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Israeli military forces arrested some 1,000 Palestinian minors since January: NGO

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An Israeli soldier detains a Palestinian child close to Khirbet al-Rakiz village south of the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil on March 10, 2021. (File photo)

An independent and nongovernmental rights organization says Israeli military forces have arrested some 1,000 Palestinian minors across the occupied West Bank, including the Old City of al-Quds, and the besieged Gaza Strip since the beginning of the year, as the Tel Aviv regime continues its campaign of abuse and arrest against Palestinians.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Center for Studies (PCBS) said in a report published on Monday that Israeli authorities have clearly escalated their acts against Palestinians during the current year, and arrested 1,000 children, including 73 ones under the age of fourteen, since January.

The aim is to deter Palestinian minors from resistance against the Israeli occupation, ruin their educational opportunities, destroy their future and create a weak and coward generation, the PCBS pointed out.

“The Israeli regime does not hesitate to arrest wounded [Palestinian] children after shooting them, sometimes dangerously. It interrogates the minors in hospitals, and coerces them to make false confessions instead of providing them with treatment and medical care,” Riyad al-Ashqar, the director of the center, said.

“As a result of the intensive arrest campaign targeting Palestinian minors, the number of child prisoners in Israeli jails has soared to 230. They are being held at various wards inside Megiddo, Ofer and Damon prisons. They are suffering from very harsh detention conditions, and lack the most basic necessities,” he added.

The center announced that it has recorded the detention of 310 Palestinians, including 33 children and nine women, over the previous month, stressing that 230 minors are still being held behind bars in Israeli detention centers.

The center noted that the occupied city of al-Quds witnessed more than a third of the arrests, and the figure stood at 115 cases.

The PCBS said it had monitored eight arrests from the Gaza Strip, six of whom were young men that crossed the border fence on the eastern flank of the coastal sliver. Most of them were released and returned to the Strip after hours-long interrogations.

However, merchant Hassan Mohsen al-Sharafi, 31, and 42-year-old Amjad Ahmed Dardouna – both residents of Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, were arrested as they were passing through the Erez checkpoint and remain in prison.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Center for Studies highlighted that seven journalists were arrested during the month of August for covering Israeli forces’ attacks on Palestinians and their property in Masafer Yatta region south of the city of al-Khalil.

They were released hours later, after having promised to return for interrogation at a police station inside the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement.

The PCBS said Israeli forces also targeted female Palestinians during the month of August, and arrested nine women and girls, including the wives of two Palestinian prisoners.

Moreover, Israeli troops arrested 33 Palestinian minors, all of whom were school children, throughout July. The youngest children among them were Mahmoud Abu Juma'a and Muhammad Raja'i Khweis, who are under the age of 11 and both residents of al-Quds.

Israeli prison authorities keep Palestinian inmates under deplorable conditions lacking proper hygienic standards.

Palestinian prisoners have also been subjected to systematic torture, harassment and repression.

Human rights organizations say Israel violates all the rights and freedoms granted to prisoners by the Fourth Geneva Convention. 

There are reportedly more than 7,000 Palestinians held at Israeli jails. Hundreds of the inmates have been apparently incarcerated under the practice of administrative detention.

The Israeli parliament, Knesset, has already approved a law that made way for prison officials to force-feed hunger strikers if their condition becomes life-threatening. The law sparked criticism from rights groups as a disrespect to the detainees’ choices. 

Rights groups describe Israel’s use of administrative detention as a “bankrupt tactic” and have long called on Israel to bring its use to an end.

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