Ramallah, January 10, 2024—A Palestinian child recently released from administrative detention was attacked by an Israeli military dog while detained.
Yousef,* a 17-year-old Palestinian child, was recently released from Israeli prison after enduring over seven months in administrative detention, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. In the early hours of March 30, 2023, while Yousef was out of the house, Israeli forces raided Yousef’s home and arrested his father in an apparent effort to coerce Yousef into surrendering. Yousef, who was 16 years old at the time, turned himself in later that same day. Israeli forces detained Yousef without charge or trial and during his detention, Israeli forces violated his rights, beat him, and unleashed an Israeli military dog which attacked him.
On October 30, 2023, Israeli prison administration hung an Israeli flag inside the children’s section of Megiddo prison in northern Israel, Yousef told DCIP, and one child detainee burned the flag. About 50 Israeli soldiers then beat all the children in the prison yard for about two hours.
"Around 18 children were severely beaten, screaming in pain,” Yousef told DCIP. “I saw police dogs attacking them, bleeding from the mouth and head. They were thrown into solitary confinement cells outside the section. Guards raided all the rooms, kicking everyone out into the yard, beating them with sticks. The children were violently kicked, verbally assaulted, tied behind their backs with plastic cuffs, humiliated, and dragged to the shower area."
“When the guards reached my room, one of them told us from outside the room to go all the way back to the wall and kneel, but we refused, so he opened the door and unleashed an unmuzzled dog at us. I tried to defend myself and catch the dog, but the dog bit and injured me."
Israeli forces regularly use military dogs to attack Palestinians, including children. 13-year-old Raja and eight-year-old Nidal were attacked by an Israeli military dog when Israeli forces entered their home in Al-Far'a refugee camp in the middle of the night.
"We were around 40 children, forced to kneel and face the wall for nearly three hours until they emptied the rooms,” said Yousef. “They returned us to the rooms, all bleeding, bruised, and in pain, without any medical treatment provided."
On November 25, Israeli forces cuffed Yousef and seven other children behind their backs. They were joined by additional children in another room where they learned they were about to be released. Israeli forces beat Yousef and the other children on their trip to Ofer prison, located between Ramallah and Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank. Around 1 a.m., they were released to their families.
"Life in prison was all normal until October 7,” Yousef told DCIP. “That morning, the prison administration closed the room I shared with seven other children and confiscated all the electrical appliances. We were banned from going to the yard for eight days in a row, and we were not allowed to take any showers,” Yousef said.
“We were forbidden to talk to children from other rooms. We did not know what was going on outside because all the radios and television sets were taken away,” Yousef said.
Israel stands alone globally as the sole nation that systematically prosecutes children in military courts bereft of essential fair trial rights and protections. Around 500 to 700 Palestinian children face prosecution annually in Israeli military courts.
In 2023, at least 45 Palestinian children were detained by Israeli forces in administrative detention, according to documentation collected by DCIP. Administrative detention permits Israeli military commanders or government officials to incarcerate Palestinians, including children, without charge or trial based on secret evidence that is not disclosed to the detainee or their lawyer.
In the occupied West Bank, where military law applies to the Palestinian population, Israeli Military Order 1651 permits administrative detention for up to six months, subject to indefinite renewals.
A deprivation of liberty is arbitrary when it is clearly impossible to invoke any legal basis justifying the deprivation of liberty or when the total or partial non-observance of the international norms relating to the right to a fair trial is of such gravity as to give the deprivation of liberty an arbitrary character.
*Yousef is a pseudonym. The child’s name is known to DCIP but not disclosed in order to protect his privacy.