By Patrick O. Strickland*
Ramallah, March 21, 2014—A boy from East Jerusalem who signed a confession after Israeli interrogators threatened him with sodomy spent over two months under house arrest.
Othman S, 14, was summoned for interrogation by Israeli intelligence in the early hours of November 25, 2013 and accused of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails near the Israeli Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem.
In a sworn affidavit given to DCI-Palestine, Othman says he was forced to stand face to the wall with his hands tied for about two hours and strip-searched before being interrogated.
During the interrogation, an intelligence officer accused him of throwing a stone and then a Molotov cocktail at a police car and, when Othman would not confess, the officer threatened to sodomize him.
“(The interrogator) then brought a broomstick, about 1.5 meters (6 feet) long, from one of the corners and threatened to shove it up my bottom,” Othman said, adding that the interrogator said to him: “You want me to shove this stick up your ass so you’ll feel pain and tell me the truth?”
The interrogator also insulted Othman’s mother and sister and warned him that he would “demolish my home if I did not talk,” he said.
Scared and alone, Othman confessed under duress.
“I was crying. I said everything against my will. I was scared of them. I was scared they might beat me and demolish our house,” Othman told DCI-Palestine.
There were at least 31 cases of child detention in East Jerusalem in 2012. Of those, 97 percent experienced physical abuse and 90 percent were subjected to intimidation and humiliation, according to DCI-Palestine statistics.
After about half an hour, the interrogator printed out five papers in Hebrew and ordered Othman to sign them. Othman did so without reading what was written on them.
“Even if I had read (the confession papers), I would not understand anything because they were (written) in Hebrew,” he said.
In more than one in five of the cases DCI-Palestine documented in 2013, confessions were written in Hebrew.
Following his confession, Othman was held at the Al-Mascobiyya interrogation center in Jerusalem for a month.
On December 22, 2013, he was sentenced in an Israeli magistrates court to two-and-a-half months under house arrest.
Rifat Kassis, DCI-Palestine’s Executive Director said: "In principle, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child encourages alternatives to institutional care to ensure that children are dealt with in a manner appropriate to their well-being, and proportionate both to their circumstances and the offence.
“In practice, house arrest, as used by Israeli authorities, constitutes a harsh alternative which affects the enjoyment of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem to their other rights such as their right to education."
While under house arrest, Othman was forbidden from leaving home, including attending school. He was isolated as his friends’ families did not want them to come and visit him.
Othman’s lawyer, Fawwaz Shludi, warned that Othman’s sentence could be renewed.
“What scares me now is the possibility that I have to repeat my class and people will think that I am stupid,” Othman told DCI-Palestine.
*Patrick O. Strickland is a freelance contributor to Defense for Children International Palestine
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