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8 Palestinian children indicted for 'attacks' as Israeli police warns of further detentions

March 7, 2017 6:15 P.M. (Updated: March 7, 2017 7:41 P.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities have indicted 11 Palestinian residents of Aida refugee camp, including eight minors, for allegedly throwing stones, pipe bombs, and Molotov cocktails, Israeli police said Tuesday.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement that the suspects were charged after police gathered “concrete evidence” that the Palestinians were involved in “attacks” that targeted Rachel’s Tomb, which is located just next to the refugee camp beyond Israel’s separation wall and next to a military base.

He said the 11 were arrested in recent months and had been interrogated by Israeli police, without providing further details regarding the suspects’ identities, the length of their sentences, or the dates of their detentions.

In addition to the 11 indictments, Rosenfeld said that “further arrests are expected as the police investigation into the attacks continue.”

In a statement issued in Arabic, Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said that the Palestinian youth committed the alleged attacks after leaving school, also without specifying when the alleged incidents occurred.

She claimed that the suspects learned how to make the explosive devices through watching “inciting videos on the internet encouraging terrorist attacks.”

Local sources could not immediately be reached to confirm the details of the cases. However, Israeli police said last month that a 13-year-old Palestinian boy in the camp was awaiting indictment after he was detained for allegedly throwing stones at Rachel’s Tomb, and that seven other Palestinians were detained in Aida the same week on suspicion of throwing stones, Molotov cocktails, and improvised explosive devices .

Earlier in February, an Israeli military vehicle stormed Aida refugee camp in broad daylight, and violently detained 14-year-old Ali Jawarish while he was walking home from school, with locals insisting that no clashes were taking place at the time.

Footage released shortly after the incident showed soldiers aggressively throwing the boy into the back of the jeep, while witnesses told Ma’an they saw the soldiers continue to beat the boy while he was inside the vehicle.

Multiple witnesses said that no clashes were taking place and there was no rock throwing when the military vehicle suddenly careened through a narrow road in the refugee camp and stopped near a group of school children who were on their way home from school.

Locals confirmed to Ma’an on Tuesday that 27 days later, the boy was still being held in Israeli custody without having charges brought against him.

The incidents came as locals in Aida have reported escalated military procedures over the past several months, creating what some residents have called a perpetual “atmosphere of fear.”

Meanwhile, right groups have widely documented the abuse of Palestinian 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.

A recent article published by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has confirmed the extent to which Shin Bet interrogators subject their to torture.

Ofer detention center is one of the most common sites used by Israel for the interrogation of Palestinian children, where Jawarish was reportedly being held. Last October, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners' Affairs reported that the “overwhelming majority” of Palestinian minors held in Israel’s Megiddo and Ofer prisons were tortured during their detention and interrogation.

Defense for Children International - Palestine has said their research showed that almost two-thirds of Palestinian children detained in the occupied West Bank by Israeli forces had endured physical violence after their arrest.

Palestinian stone throwers face harsh penalties by Israeli authorities, with Israel passing laws in 2015 allowing for up to 20 years in prison if charged with throwing stones at vehicles and a minimum of three years for the act of throwing a stone at an Israeli -- legislation rights groups say was designed specifically to target Palestinians, as Israelis and settlers are rarely prosecuted under the same standards of the law.

A Palestinian youth was sentenced to 18 years in prison last month for allegedly throwing a rock at an Israeli vehicle -- representing the harshest sentence ever handed down for stone throwing.
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