Al-Quds, 20 Syawwal 1437/ 25 July 2016 (MINA) – Israeli forces on Sunday morning raided the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, detaining three Palestinian youths amid a widespread crackdown on Palestinian minors accused of throwing stones at Israelis in the area.
Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, member of the village’s monitoring committee, identified two of the detained as Wael Obeid and Muhammad Ahmad Darwish, Maan News Agency was quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
An Israeli police spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment to confirm why the three were detained.
Abu al-Hummus accused “different institutions of the (Israeli) occupation of targeting both commercial and residential structures in Issawiya” as part of an Israeli policy of “collective punishment” against residents.
This collective punishment, he added, included daily armed incursions into Issawiya, “provocative” inspections by the Jerusalem municipality, and the delivery of various types of fines.
Jerusalem police have conducted widespread detention raids in recent weeks in Palestinian communities of occupied east Jerusalem, in connection to alleged stone-throwing incidents targeting Israeli border police and settlers in the area.
Stone throwings were also reported at the Old City’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound throughout the Muslim month of Ramadan, as tensions ran high while right-wing Israelis toured the site.
On Sunday, 65 Israelis visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque and toured the compound, witnesses told Ma’an, who added that among the visitors to the compound was Yehuda Etzion, a right-wing radical activist who was convicted in the 1980s for planning an attack on the mosque.
Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement on Tuesday that police detained at least nine young Palestinian suspects from Issawiya last week, including five minors between 15 and 17 years old, “as police continue to investigate disturbances and stone throwing at police and border guards, as well as at (Israeli) citizens traveling on the road to Maale Adumim from Issawiya in Jerusalem.”
“Some of them admitted during interrogation that they threw stones at Israeli vehicles and police patrols on the roads to Maale Adumim,” al-Samri said.
Maale Adumin is a massive illegal settlement bloc just a few kilometers east of Jerusalem which cuts deep into the West Bank, where 800 new housing units have recently been approved for construction by the Israeli government.
The crackdown on Jerusalemite youth comes on the heels of newly approved changes to Israeli legislation increasing the penalty for stone throwing, which rights groups say specifically target young Palestinians for crimes that Israeli Jews are rarely held accountable for.
Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) wrote in a report on Wednesday that Palestinian youth convicted of throwing stones in Jerusalem were already starting to feel the effects of the changes in legislation, citing a number of recent cases of Palestinian minors being handed prison sentences for periods ranging between 12 to 39 months, with up to three years’ probation.
According to affidavits taken by DCIP, two of the teenagers “both had maintained their innocence and confessed only after they had experienced physical and psychological abuse.”
According to the testimony of one Palestinian minor identified in the report as Saleh E., an Israeli interrogator took him into a police station bathroom, kicked him and punched him in the face while he was still handcuffed, accusing him of throwing stones at Israeli vehicles, which Saleh E. denied.
“He then pulled my ear and claimed that my friends ratted on me and said I was throwing stones with them. I told him I threw one stone at the vehicles near the mosque. I told him each one of my friends threw one stone each at the vehicles.”
Another Palestinian minor, Murad A., said was choked during his interrogation and had a door slammed in his face, until he finally confessed to throwing stones, despite confiding to DCIP he had been innocent.
Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP, said in the the report: “The changes in the penal code and policy guidelines since 2014 are discriminatory and target Palestinians, specifically youth. Israel is a signatory to the Convention of the Rights of the Child and we call on them to uphold their responsibilities.”
Interrogations of Palestinian children can last up to 90 days according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, during which they are often beaten, threatened, sexually assaulted, and placed in solitary confinement to elicit confessions, while confession documents they are forced to sign are in Hebrew — a language most Palestinian children do not speak. (T/P010/R07)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)