Palestinian researcher, specializing in detainees’ affairs, Awni Farawna, stated that the Israeli Army has kidnapped a total of 7,600 Palestinian children, males and females, since the year 2000; 246 children are still behind bars.
At least 200 of the kidnapped children were detained under administrative detention, without charges or trial. Some of the children were as young as 12 years old.
One detainee is now 13 months old as he was born behind bars. His mother, Fatima Al Zoq, was kidnapped while pregnant, and gave birth in prison while she was handcuffed and her legs were tied to the hospital bed.
Farawna stated that Israel’s targeting of children is a policy that targets childhood and a healthy growth, and expressed concern over the fate of the detained children as they are subjected to different sorts of violations, including torture and isolation, which affects their growth, physical and psychological conditions, in addition to affecting their education.
Hundreds of children were cut off schools due to being imprisoned; hundreds of detainees were kidnapped when they were children and grew up behind bars. Many of them have spent more years behind bars than with their families.
Several detained children were sexually abused and violated by interrogators and soldiers, while a number of Israeli prisoners, held for criminal violations, also attacked them.
Farawna stated that international law and treaties regarding children forbid barring children from their freedom, forbid torturing and violating them, and call for providing them with a healthy environment, education, mental and physical care, and calls for providing them with the needed recreation.
On the ground, Israel is ongoing with kidnapping Palestinian children, imprisoning and torturing them. At least 93 percent of the detained children were tortured, physically and mentally, and were forced to sign confessions which were used later on in Israeli courts.
Farawna added that the detained children are treated by the soldiers and the interrogators as adults, which comes in direct violation of international law and international human rights.
Many children were arrested more than one time before they reached the age of 18; others were kidnapped as children, and grew up to be young men and women while they were in prison.
Several children who grew up in prison and were released later on are having difficulties in coping with the outside world; some became violent and tend to seek vengeance.
Some of the abuse practices against the detained Palestinian children are in the form of sexual harassment, threat of rape, forcing them to undress and having pictures taken of them naked, and threats of more harm if they do not become collaborators with the occupation.
Farawna demanded international human rights groups to intervene and put pressure on Israel in order to oblige Israel to comply with international law and the fourth Geneva Convention.
He said that the children should be back in school, not in cells, and that the daily violence they witness, the arrest of their parents, the death and destruction they witnessed before being kidnapped, is also affecting their growth and behavior.
The ongoing Israeli violations are creating a generation of Palestinians who seek vengeance, a generation that is willing to join the resistance at an early age, a generation of youths who have nothing more to lose after the occupation took their childhood, tortured and abused them, in addition to imprisoning them for extended periods.