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Iyad:- “I still have hope that it is possible in some cases to improve the situation and help these children, even if we are just talking about a change on the psychological level. At the end of the day, I consider any child I meet in prison or in court as a relative of mine or even a son, because these children rely heavily on the lawyer and they believe he is their sole saviour in their time of hardship, especially if they are detained for the first time. If it’s their first time they see me as if I’m a god, as if I can do anything. But actually I’m just like him.” Question:- “Do you believe the system is intrinsically flawed?” Iyad:- “As a lawyer, I believe in the principle of the separation of powers: the judiciary, the legislature, and the executive, however in the case of the military courts they are all the same entity: the Israeli army.” | Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted In the military detention system, administrative detention orders are authorised under Military Order 1651, for a period of up to six months, with an indefinite number of renewals permitted.101 Administrative detention orders are issued at the time of arrest or at some later date, and are often based on “secret evidence” collected by the Israeli Security Agency (ISA). The detainee must be brought before a military judge within eight days of the issuing of an administrative detention order at which point the order can be confirmed, reduced or cancelled.
Separation from adults During the reporting period, significant improvements have been made in ensuring children are separated from adults. These improvements are most notable in Megiddo prison, where children are held in a separate area from adults. In Ofer prison, attempts are made to separate adults from children, but mixing does still occur from time to time.
Prison conditions The conditions of detention for Palestinian detainees in IPS facilities are regulated by Israeli domestic law and general IPS regulations as well as regulations specific to “security detainees.” Specific regulations apply to various aspects of the conditions of detention, including: physical conditions; medical care; personal hygiene; possession of personal belongings; food; daily exercise; use of telephones; family visits; letters; religion;
restraint and disciplinary measures.105 Significantly, Palestinian child detainees are not permitted to have telephone contact with their families. In practice, common complaints received from Palestinian children detained in the Israeli military court system include overcrowding, poor ventilation and access to natural light, poor quality and inadequate amounts of food, harsh treatment by prison officials and boredom.
Education In the military detention system, the law provides that Palestinian children in Israeli detention facilities are entitled to the same education as Israeli child prisoners, which includes an education programme based on the Palestinian curriculum,106 but that this right is “subject to the security situation.”107 The prison authorities have interpreted “subject to the security situation” to permit only very limited education in one of the prisons where Israel detains Palestinian children,108and in none of the interrogation and detention centres.109 At the date of publication, three Arab-Israeli teachers enter Megiddo prison to teach Arabic and Maths. Children are separated into three classes based on their age. The children are only given exercise books and pencils for the duration of the class and then made to return these resources at the end of the lesson. According to recent reports, children in Megiddo prison are receiving about five hours of tuition per day, five days per week.
The education provided is not compulsory. No education whatsoever is provided by the prison authorities to Palestinian female child detainees, or in other detention facilities.110 | 47 Medical care In the prisons operated by the IPS, the law provides that detainees are entitled to medical care.111 In the case of children, this care includes psychological and psychiatric treatment.112 Palestinian children are typically given a cursory medical examination on arrival at a temporary detention facility. These medical examinations are conducted by military doctors and generally last several minutes and involve reading through a checklist of illnesses and injuries, frequently whilst the child remains tied by the hands.
In practice there are reports of children being ignored when they complain about their health during their medical examinations.113 There are also reports that some children have been denied adequate medical care, and in some cases, undue force has been applied to existing wounds causing additional suffering. Once Palestinian children are transferred to a prison, their medical care is governed by IPS regulations which provide that “every detainee is entitled to receive the medical treatment he requires to maintain his health.”114 Release and rehabilitation In some cases, parents are informed in advance the date when their child will be released and wait for them at the nearest checkpoint. Sometimes they may wait for the best part of a day as a precise time for release is generally not given. In other cases, children are simply dropped off at checkpoints by the army, and then must find their own way home, sometimes many hours away (case study 5).
| Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted The Israeli authorities provide no assistance for the rehabilitation of Palestinian children held in its detention facilities. Since its establishment in 1989, the East Jerusalem YMCA has provided rehabilitation services to children, and now provides counselling services to approximately 350 ex-child detainees each year under the motto – “Giving hope to the hopeless”.116 The programme operates from facilities in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem, in the West Bank, and it also has an outreach programme.
Nader Abu Amsha is the director of the Beit Sahour branch of the East Jerusalem YMCA rehabilitation programme. Each year the programme provides counseling to around 350 Palestinian children released from Israeli detention facilities.
Question:- “Can you tell me a little bit about the programme?” Nader:- “The programme started three years ago. At the moment, we are treating on average 350 children per year through 11 counselling teams that work all across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.” Question:- “How does the work begin?” Nader:- “Our works starts from the moment the child is arrested. Our counsellors start working with the family to help them cope with the situation and advise them on how to deal with the child when he or she is released from prison. The parents tend to think that when their child is released, that is the end of the story. We always tell them it is only the beginning. The family needs to understand that the experience of arrest and imprisonment might have changed the child and affected his development.
Question:- “In what ways does prison change a child?” within the family. Through our programme, we try to help both the child and the family so that the home remains a place where the child feels comfortable and safe.” Question:- “What are some of the things you notice when a child is released from prison?” Nader:- “In most cases we notice that when children are released from prison they want to talk about what happened to them; they want to narrate the sequence of events from the moment of arrest as if it was a movie. They do not talk much about their feelings.
But when we start digging and asking specific questions, the children start talking about their feelings. They get very emotional and start sharing their frustration, their anger, perhaps their desire for revenge etc.”
Question:- “What are some of the other things you notice?”
Nader:- “We have noticed that one of the most traumatising experiences for the children is being arrested in the middle of the night in big raids, finding the soldiers in their rooms pointing their weapons at them, the shouting, and the breaking of things in many cases.
This makes the detention very traumatic from the first minute. Also, the handcuffing, the blindfolding, being transferred in the floor of the military jeeps, being beaten, threatened and humiliated during interrogation. Being alone during all this process is a terrifying experience for the children. The child feels that the whole Israeli military system is against him, and he has no one to protect or accompany him. Then, being imprisoned for months far from the family, with people he doesn’t know, sometimes even with adults, not being able to talk about his feelings, and having to deal with the conflict between the different political affiliations of other prisoners, it’s all a very difficult experience for the child.”
Question:- “What are some of the methods you use to help the children?”
Nader:- “Our counsellors and social workers are trained to help the children disclose all their feelings, because once they start talking, that’s when the therapy really begins. This is how the children release all the stress and reduce their anxiety. The therapy helps them organise their thoughts and channel their feelings in a positive direction.”
Question:- “Does this always work?”
Nader:- “In some cases the children are too traumatised by the experience, by the illtreatment, and they refuse to open up. Being tortured might lead the children not to trust anyone. Many times our counsellors have to make a big effort to earn the child’s trust, because without trust there can be no counselling or therapy. In cases where despite all our efforts the child refuses to open up, we still help him return to school or with vocational rehabilitation and re-integration into the community.”
Question:- “What other issues have you come across?”
Nader:- “When treating the children, we have also noticed that one of the most difficult issues for them to deal with - and this is very sensitive - is Israel’s attempt to recruit them as informants or collaborators, and the use of the ‘stick and carrot’ method to get information out of them. Many children often say the Israelis tried to recruit them, but they never say they accepted, although in some cases they might have due to fear and the desire | Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted to end the ill-treatment and to get out of the situation. It is very hard to deal with these cases, because they are related to many other issues, such as the security of the child, community values, the fear it generates in the child and the need for protection.” Question:- “When do you approach the children about joining the programme?” Nader:- “We invite children to enrol in our programme as soon as they are released from prison. We offer them our help in getting back to school, we do vocational assessment, facilitate their re-integration into the community, and give them psychological counselling.” Question:- “What are some of the biggest challenges you encounter when the children are released?” Nader:- “The issue of returning to school is one of the most difficult, because these children tend to look for all kinds of excuses not to go back to school. Most of them come from poor families, so they say they want to start working to help the household. We challenge their arguments and make them see the advantages of completing their education, as well as the difficulties in finding a good job without the necessary qualifications.
However, if the child decides not to go back to school, we have to respect his decision, so we help with vocational training.”
Question:- “Can you tell me a little bit about the vocational training?”
Nader:- “We use a very effective system for vocational assessment, and have signed agreements with a number of companies, workshops etc. where the children can have training in different areas, such as carpentry, mechanics, etc. It is important that the children undergo this training within a system, because this is pivotal for the success of the counselling process. These children should not be left alone.”
Question:- “How would you rate the success of the programme?”
Nader:- “In general the programme is very successful. Most children recover from the trauma and re-integrate well into the community, but of course they never forget what happened to them. They will have flashbacks all their lives, but they learn how to cope with these memories. In some cases the children get re-arrested, and as soon as they are released they immediately come back to our programme.” | 51 Ofer prison: © Sylvie Le Clezio | Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted P sychoactive is a group of practising and academic mental health professionals who are active in areas of social and political concern, particularly in regards to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.117 In preparation of the Report, DCI-Palestine provided a group within Psychoactive, who are currently investigating the issue of military detention of Palestinian minors, with 15 randomly selected testimonies relied on by the Report for the purpose of obtaining an insight into some of the psychological effects on children of being held in the Israeli military detention system. The full psychological opinion will be