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15-year-old Palestinian abused, medically neglected during detention by Israeli police

July 30, 2016 12:29 P.M. (Updated: July 31, 2016 3:49 P.M.)
Jerusalem (Ma'an) -- A 15-year-old Palestinian boy sustained a broken hand and heavy bruising after being assaulted and detained by undercover Israeli police officers in the Issawiya neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem.

Fadi Rafat al-Issawi was detained last Sunday when two Israeli undercover police officers in civilian clothing stopped to ask him and his friend Mustafa Abu al-Hummus for directions, before the officers assaulted the two minors and detained them for allegedly throwing rocks, according to a member of the village's monitoring committee Muhammad Abu al-Hummus.

Abu al-Hummus told Ma’an that during a court hearing held for the two minors, Israeli authorities said three cars raided the village and detained the two "in order to limit rock-throwing incidents."

Fadi was sent away to Beit Hanina, a neighborhood north of his home in Issawiya, where he was placed under house arrest. It remained unclear with whom al-Issawi was staying.

Fadi’s mother told Ma’an he suffered from medical negligence while in Israeli police custody, and was only taken to hospital at 11 p.m. despite being arrested in the afternoon, and despite suffering from apparent fractures, bruising, and pain.

His mother added that the family was prevented from visiting Fadi when they were called to the hospital an hour later. After Fadi finished his treatment at 2 a.m., he was placed in a police car where he remained until 6 a.m.

Israeli police did not provide him with painkillers or antibiotics as doctors had recommended, according to Fadi's mother, and they ignored his treatment during the three days he spent at Jerusalem’s Russian Compound police station and detention center.

She added that Fadi’s family took him to a hospital after he was released, where his cast had to be redone, and doctors said his hand might need to undergo surgery. Doctors also revealed that Fadi sustained a minor hairline fracture in his nose and an infection in his mouth after being hit in the face.

Fadi was among at least five other Palestinian youth detained last Sunday, and days later, some 52 Palestinians were detained -- 11 of them minors -- in occupied East Jerusalem neighborhoods for allegedly throwing stones at Israelis.

The detentions came as the latest arrests in an ongoing crackdown on Palestinian children by Israeli police in East Jerusalem, as Palestinian communities in the occupied city have begun to feel the impact of Israeli legislation passed between 2014 and 2015 increasing penalties for rock throwing, which allows for stone-throwers to receive a 20-year prison sentence where intent to harm could be proven, and 10 years where it could not.

Rights group Defense for Children International - Palestine (DCIP) cited in a report on Wednesday a number of recent cases of Palestinian minors being handed prison sentences for periods ranging between 12 to 39 months, with up to three years’ probation.

Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a recent statement amid the arrest campaign of Palestinian youth that “some of them admitted during interrogation that they threw stones at Israeli vehicles and police patrols on the roads to Maale Adumim,” referring to a nearby illegal Israeli settlement.

However, the widespread arrests have put a spotlight on the well-documented abuse of Palestinians children by Israeli forces and the harsh interrogation practices used to force their confessions, which has long been the target of criticism by the international community.

Despite “on paper” having more rights than Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank who are subject to a draconian military detention system, in practice, Jerusalem minors “do not enjoy their enshrined rights” under the Israeli civilian court system, according to DCIP.

Out of 65 cases documented by DCIP in 2015, "more than a third of Jerusalem youth were arrested at night (38.5 percent), the vast majority (87.7 percent) were restrained during arrest, and only a slim minority of children (10.8 percent) had a parent or lawyer present during interrogation."

According to affidavits taken by DCIP for last week’s report documenting the recent arrests and sentencing of Palestinian minors for rock throwing, two of the teenagers “both had maintained their innocence and confessed only after they had experienced physical and psychological abuse.”

The youth described being kicked and punched while handcuffed, choked, and having a door slammed in their face.

Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP was quoted in the report as saying: “The changes in the penal code and policy guidelines since 2014 are discriminatory and target Palestinians, specifically youth. Israel is a signatory to the Convention of the Rights of the Child and we call on them to uphold their responsibilities.”

Interrogations of Palestinian children can last up to 90 days according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, during which in addition to being beaten and threatened, cases of sexual assault and placement in solitary confinement to elicit confessions are also often reported, while confession documents they are forced to sign are in Hebrew -- a language most Palestinian children do not speak.

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