A bench behind bars: education and child-imprisonment in Palestine

By Maria Correia |

“The violations begin from the moment of arrest”

Last week, Ahed Tamimi was released from her eight month sentence for slapping a solider. The video of Tamimi confronting soldiers at her doorstep went viral last December and she has since gained immense international traction; becoming a symbol of Palestinian resilience and resistance to the occupation.

Tamimi was originally charged with 12 counts of assault, incitement, interference and stone throwing. She pleaded guilty to four of them.

The story of this 17-year-old isn’t one of a kind; child imprisonment is a bleak reality for Palestinian families.

Speaking to Sahar Francis, a human rights lawyer and director of the Addameer prisoners support and human rights association, it became clear that the mass incarceration of children is more than just sporadic.

The Israeli legal age for imprisonment is 12. However Francis made sure to highlight that even this limit wasn’t always respected. She listed stories of kids as young as 5 being held for some hours by Israeli military.

The Israeli forces violations of international human rights begin from the moment of arrest; most children are arrested in the middle of the night, and frequently without explanation. During the transfers from the child’s home into detention, statements show that children face an array of abuse. During the interrogation period, the most common technique of torture is solitary confinement, while blindfolded and tied up in uncomfortable positions. Children are also subject to sexual and verbal harassment.

It is also common for parents to not be informed of where their child is being taken. Out of the three juvenile prison facilities, two are in ’48’, towns which remained Arab majority after the 1948 war. The transfer of children there is already a violation of international law.

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