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Israel Is Currently Imprisoning at Least 240 Children From West Bank, Group Says

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society says that many children have been subjected to torture while imprisoned.

Israeli border police remove Palestinian children from the vicinity of the Ibrahimi Mosque, in the West Bank city of Hebron on February 28, 2022.

Israel has detained at least 640 Palestinian children in the West Bank since October, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) reported on Monday, as Israeli officials have escalated their violence and suppression of Palestinians in the West Bank during their genocide of Gaza.

At least 240 of these children are still in Israeli detention, according to the group. Israeli officials are also imprisoning a group of children in Megiddo prison in northern Israel, PPS reported. Megiddo prison, like many other Israeli detention centers, is rife with abuse, reports have found, for both children and adults held there.

These children have been “exposed to all kinds of retaliatory measures, including abuse, torture, as well as medical negligence” while imprisoned, the group said.

This includes a 7-year-old child, Baha Kazem Haj Mohammed, who PPS said was arrested on Sunday, the first day of the Eid al-Adha holiday. He was reportedly detained along with several other children while in the town center of al-Mughayyir, near Ramallah in the West Bank, and was beaten and then released hours later, according to the group.

Israel has a long history of abusing Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza, as Palestinians say that Israeli officials view children as the future of Palestine, which they must extinguish.

According to Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP), Israeli forces have detained 13,000 Palestinian children since 2000 — typically boys between the ages of 12 and 17. In an analysis of affidavits from 766 of these arrests in recent years, DCIP found that 75 percent of these children were subject to violence while detained, while 97 percent were interrogated without family or a lawyer present. A quarter of them are then imprisoned in solitary confinement — a brutal form of torture — for two or more days before trial, one expert recently told Reuters.

Even after the children are released, they are still not safe from Israel’s brutality. At least one of the children who was released as part of the deal for a four-day pause in bombardments of Gaza in November was rearrested earlier this year, DCIP reported in February. Israeli forces surrounded his family home, ordered them to evacuate, killed his brother, and then arrested him.

Rami (a pseudonym given to him by DCIP) was told that he was being arrested for being a terrorist. He was 17 when he was rearrested, and before being released in November, he had been imprisoned for over a year by Israeli forces, including 30 days in solitary confinement.

The children are among the thousands of Palestinians that Israeli forces have arrested just over the past nine months. PPS and a coalition of other prisoners’ groups noted earlier this month that Israeli forces have arrested over 9,000 Palestinians from the West Bank since October.

The arrests are part of Israel’s escalating violence in the West Bank. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recently reported that it has recorded the deaths of at least 505 Palestinians in the West Bank since October, marking a period of “unprecedented bloodshed” in the region while Israel has been indiscriminately slaughtering Palestinians in Gaza.

The acceleration of brutality against Palestinians in the West Bank has alarmed some advocates against Israel’s apartheid and occupation.

“While the world is understandably focused on the destruction unfolding in Gaza, we should not lose sight of what is happening in the West Bank — actions which are in violation of both American and international law,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) in a statement on Friday.

“Let’s be clear: the right-wing, extremist [Benjamin] Netanyahu government is not only breaking international law in Gaza, they are doing the same in the West Bank, where they are pursuing illegal annexation by force,” Sanders continued. “Netanyahu should be facing serious consequences for these violations, not receiving an invitation to address a joint session of Congress.”

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