«April 2012 “The test of a democracy is how you treat people incarcerated, people in jail, and especially so with minors.” Mark Regev Spokesman ...»
available on Psychoactive’s website, with a summary presented below:
2. The boys’ descriptions of the conditions leading up to the interrogation and the way in which the interrogations are conducted cast serious doubts as to the credibility of the confessions extracted as suggested in the PHR-Israel report, dated May 2011.118 But more importantly, exposure to such potentially traumatic events is liable to have lasting debilitating psychological and physiological effects.
3. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a potentially traumatizing event is one in which an individual experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others and in which the individual’s response involved intense fear, helplessness or horror. Lack of control in painful and distressing situations is known to engender feelings of intense helplessness which is one of the factors in causing trauma. The arrests and interrogations as described in the boys’ testimonies are potentially traumatic events, and in many of the testimonies a sense of helplessness and horror is evident.
5. Family support is very important in contributing to the child’s sense of safety, which is likely to have been severely damaged during the arrest and detention. Such support is mostly denied by restricting the families’ visits while the boys are in detention. In addition, after their release the children and youth will return to a home that in many ways is no longer the safe haven it had been and to parents whose authority and dignity is likely to have been damaged, who presumably suffer a great deal of guilt at not having been able to protect their child, and whose ability to help the youths process their experiences and recover their psychic equilibrium may, therefore, be severely handicapped.
6. It is striking that emotions are only rarely expressed directly in these testimonies. There are several possible explanations for this. Firstly, the lack of emotive expression could be cultural, and especially for adolescent boys on their way to manhood. Also, the testimonies were taken by lawyers and field workers whose questioning may have been directed towards a more factual account. However, as the testimonies were given for the most part while still in detention, this lack of emotional description may reflect the continuing need to keep feelings at bay in order to cope with the situation. The shame surrounding the feelings engendered by traumatic experience may inhibit the children and adolescents ability to share their emotions, and when detained in groups they are likely to develop among themselves a language of bravado to describe their situation. Shame about feelings of vulnerability may later seriously impair the possibility of healing. The factual dryness of the testimonies may in some cases reflect emotional dissociation, one of the more harmful and dangerous results of trauma.
7. The most expressions of emotion are found in the descriptions of the way in which the confession was extracted. The boys report being very scared and confessing or surrendering information in order to stop the psychological or physical abuse. This might suggest that most of the boys who confess, and especially those who were induced to give names of others, often friends and relatives, feel a need, perhaps due to embarrassment or guilt, to present some sort of justification for having succumbed to the pressure.
8. There are many open questions about the potential individual repercussions to the children and adolescents in terms of coping with parental helplessness, with their own helplessness, fear and guilt feelings, with harsh memories, with the interruption of the school curriculum and with the many emotional and psychosomatic manifestations characteristic of persons who undergo traumatic events. In addition, in order to understand these events in the full context of these boys’ lives it is important to take into account that what they describe in their testimonies is not simply a detached onetime event. This specific experience is embedded in the collective and personal experience of life under occupation and military threat. It is very difficult to estimate the psychological and social repercussions for those maltreated and humiliated children and adolescents after their return home. And yet we can assume that forced reciprocal incriminations scar the vulnerable fabric of family and social life within the community, and diminish the possibility for social support.
| Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted F.
The soldier’s perspective | 57 B reaking the Silence is an organisation of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. According to the organisation’s website:119 “Soldiers who serve in the Territories witness and participate in military actions which change them immensely. Cases of abuse towards Palestinians, looting, and destruction of property have been the norm for years, but are still explained as extreme and unique cases. Our testimonies portray a different, and much grimmer picture in which deterioration of moral standards finds expression in the character of orders and the rules of engagement, and are justified in the name of Israel’s security. While this reality is known to Israeli soldiers and commanders, Israeli society continues to turn a blind eye, and to deny that what is done in its name. Discharged soldiers returning to civilian life discover the gap between the reality they encountered in the Territories, and the silence about this reality they encounter at home. In order to become civilians again, soldiers are forced to ignore what they have seen and done. We strive to make heard the voices of these soldiers, pushing Israeli society to face the reality whose creation it has enabled.” DCI-Palestine is grateful to Breaking the Silence for providing three testimonies taken from soldiers involved in the arrest of Palestinian children. One of these testimonies is
An Israeli soldier provides a testimony to Breaking the Silence about arresting a Palestinian child in the Hebron area in 2010.
- “Once there was this stone throwing at Gross Square so we headed out there and this kid suddenly appeared. The lookout came over the radio and said: ‘Stop, he‘s right there next to you.’” Question:
- “How old was this kid?” Soldier:
- “Fifteen-years-old. His name was Daoud. Anyway, we arrested him. We stopped our vehicle, ran, and he was in total shock. We took him to the Jewish side of Gross, and he began to cry, to scream, sweat and tears streaming from him onto the floor. There was nothing we could do with him, suddenly you’ve got this crying kid on your hands, a second ago he was throwing tiles at Gross Square army post and you were dying to beat him to a pulp, after being alerted there in this heat. You’re dying to kill him but he’s crying his heart out. We didn’t know what to do so we began to stand watch over him. Once a guy who was with him lost it and hurt him, and then he ran off. So at some point when I was with him I tried to calm this kid down because he was tied up, blindfolded, and crying, as if all of him was just dripping from tears and sweat. I began to shake him, then the deputy company commander took him and shook him, too. ‘Shut up already! Cut it out!’ Then we took him to the Hill of the Patriarchs, and he went on and on crying because the police didn’t come and he wasn’t taken in for questioning. This went on, was so annoying, totally insane. In the middle of this mess, as he was creeping on the floor, the communications man takes out his Motorola, you know what that is?” Question:
- “The communications gear?” Soldier:
- “Yes. Boom, hits him over the head with it. Not with any ill intentions, it was simply after over two hours of unbearable crying.” Question:
- “This was still at Gross Square?” Soldier:
- “No, at the Hill of the Patriarchs.” Question:
- “At the police station?” Soldier:
- “Yes.” Question:
- “Somewhere off to the side or [...]?” rooms. There was a point when I was with him and the communications took a picture of me. I didn’t want to be photographed with him, it was a fucked up situation. You just don’t know what to do with your life at that point. We were terribly confused. And angry.
Because you saw the stones he threw, you know what he’d done, you know it’s dangerous.
Again, you keep experiencing bad things but those who do them are just people, I don’t know […]” Question:
- “How long was he at Gross Square until you took him to the Hill of the Patriarchs?” Soldier:
- “I don’t remember if it was an hour or a quarter of an hour. It was a serious amount of time. The worse thing was that he spent a lot of time at the Hill of the Patriarchs. The worst thing when you are in contact with those people, every time someone, one of the Arabs, does something bad, you take him up to the Hill of the Patriarchs (police station) and there he vanishes. He’s either taken to some base or something for three-four days.” Question:
- “Have you any idea where?” Soldier:
- “No. We were always told it was somewhere in the territories.” Question:
- “Ofer camp?” Soldier:
- “Maybe. I don’t know. We’d just drop them at the police station and forget about them. They would come back after a while. They don’t really go anywhere.” Question:
- “Earlier you mentioned that at Gross Square the deputy company commander shook this boy.” Soldier:
- “Right. We all did. He blew up at him.” Question:
- “What does that mean? Why?” Soldier:
- “Because they were such worms, from a certain point on I remember we literally loathed them. I did. I was such a racist out there, too, I was so angry at them for their filth, their misery, the whole fucking situation: you threw a stone, now why did you do it? Why did you have to make me bring you here? Just don’t do it. He is there on the floor crying.
Hands tied. At some point we unshackled his hands because he wept and pleaded. He screamed there, and was all wet from tears and sweat and mucus. You just don’t know what to do about it. We were shaking him out of desperation. It wasn’t necessarily an act motivated by violence.
I think we even began to laugh already, even now when I think about it, you get so lost out there in a situation like this.” Question:
- “You’re saying that not only you and the communications man did it, right?
The deputy company commander was involved, too?” Soldier:
- “Sure. What does it do? We didn’t shake him to such an extent that […] It was like, cut it out, you’re driving us crazy, we kept yelling ‘stop it!’ at him in Arabic, every word we knew in Arabic. “Great” and “what’s your name’ and stuff like that.” | Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted G.
Discrimination and the disparity in treatment | 61 A t the time of publication, there are well over 311,000 Israeli settlers living in the West Bank and nearly 200,000 in East Jerusalem in violation of international law.120 Although technically the settlers are subject to the same military orders as the Palestinian population, in reality, settlers are governed by Israeli civilian law, which contains significantly more safeguards and protections than military law. Since June 1967, Palestinians and Israelis living in the occupied West Bank have been judged under different laws, and by different standards. Furthermore, no Palestinian has any say or influence over the manner in which Israeli military commanders exercise executive, legislative and judicial power over them, or say in the contents of nearly 1,700 military orders affecting their rights over the past 44 years.
The discriminatory nature of the legal systems is perhaps best illustrated by way of an example involving two children living in the West Bank who start throwing stones at each other. If one of these children happens to be Palestinian, he will be prosecuted under military law and treated in a manner described in the preceding pages. If the other child is an Israeli settler, he will be dealt with in Israel’s civilian juvenile justice system, with significantly more rights and protections.121 This disparity in treatment could be justified during the first few years of the occupation based on principles of humanitarian law, but after 44 years this situation is now untenable. Some of the key differences between the two legal systems are presented in Table 10.
In an interview given to The Guardian newspaper in January 2012, Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said:141 “If detainees believe they have been mistreated, especially in the case of minors […] it’s very important that these people, or people representing them, come forward and raise these issues. The test of a democracy is how you treat people incarcerated, people in jail, and especially so with minors.” In reality, many Palestinian families refuse to file complaints against the Israeli authorities for fear of retaliation, or simply because they do not believe the complaint process will be
fair or impartial. There is some evidence to support this last concern: