Children are innocent, but many of them are in Israeli prisons.
Shidi is 13 years old. He was 12, on December 30, 2015 when Israel arrested him, forced him to stand naked in a freezing cold prison cell for hours. No parent, no lawyer. His mother saw him across the court room at his “trial,” his hands and feet in shackles. He will spend the next two years in an Israeli prison because Israel says, “He would have stabbed an Israeli, if he had a knife.”[i]
Gideon Levy said, “There is nothing more Israeli than a court that gives a soldier who killed a Palestinian in cold blood a sentence fit for a bicycle thief.”[ii]
An 18-month jail sentence handed down to an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) recruit for the killing of a wounded Palestinian has prompted for widespread criticism for its apparent leniency in light of the severity of his crime…Yet, the ruling was a landmark case insofar as no member of the IDF has been prosecuted for actions carried out in over 12 years... The sentence he received is less than a Palestinian child gets for throwing stones.[iii]
Dr. Jess Ghannam, professor of psychiatry and global health sciences at the University of California School of Medicine notes:
Palestinian children in Gaza are exposed to more violence in their lifetime than any other people, any other children anywhere in the world. If you look at children right now who are 10 years old, they’ve been through Cast Lead in 2008 and 2009, the invasion in 2012 and the invasion and destruction in 2014. In addition to the siege, if you look at the statistics, even before Cast Lead, 80 percent of Palestinian children in Gaza have witnessed some sort of violence against them, a friend or a family member. And now they’re getting to the point where probably close to 99 percent of children in Gaza are being exposed to a level of violence where they have seen family members be killed, murdered, burned alive. There’s nothing like the levels of traumatic exposure that any child in the world has ever been exposed to on a chronic and daily basis.
According to Middle East Children’s Alliance, “Palestinian children are subject to attacks by the Israeli occupation forces and Jewish settlers on an almost daily basis, 1,518 have been killed since the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000 up to April 2013, that’s one every three days for thirteen years. Almost 250 Palestinian minors, like Shadi, are being held in Israeli prisons.
Shadi’s friends described him as full of life, loved by family, neighbors, friends and classmates. They said that he loved to dance and sing and swim. He excelled in math. Shadi sounds like a delightful kid. But, I wonder what he will be when he is released after years in an Israeli prison? How much hate can Israel control by force. Children do grow up.
March 19, 2017
[i] Farihan Farah, I am a Proud Woman and a Humanitarian. I am also the Mother of the Youngest Palestinian Prisoner in an Israeli Jail. Mondoweiss, March 8, 2017.
[ii] Haaretz, Who Needs the Hague when you have Israeli Army Justice, February 23, 2017
[iii] Bethan McKernan, Five Children Get Longer Sentences for Throwing Stones than Israeli Soldier who Shot Incapacitated Palestinian Dead. The Independent, February 22, 2017.