Palestinian child released from Israeli prison spent 30 days in solitary confinement

Dec 20, 2023
Members of the Israeli border guard detain a demonstrator during a protest in the flashpoint neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem on February 18, 2022. (Photo: Ahmad Gharabli / AFP)

Ramallah, December 20, 2023—A 17-year-old Palestinian child recently released from Israeli prison was isolated in solitary confinement for 30 days. 

Rami*, 17, spent more than a year in Israeli military detention, including 30 days of solitary confinement for interrogation purposes, during which he attempted suicide, according to documentation collected by Defense for Children International - Palestine. Rami was released from Israeli prison as a part of the truce agreement between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups on November 25.

After Israeli forces detained him from his home around 1 a.m. on September 10, 2022, Israeli forces beat Rami, blindfolded him, tightly bound his hands, and transported him to the Al-Jalameh detention center for interrogation, located inside Israel. Rami’s family was not informed about the reason for the arrest or on the whereabouts of his detention. He endured further physical abuse during transit to the detention center. Upon reaching the detention center, Rami was isolated in solitary confinement for 30 days. 

The solitary confinement cell was “small, dark, with damp odors emanating from it,” Rami told DCIP. “The walls were rough-textured due to protruding bumps. The floor had an opening serving as a toilet, and I was unaware of the time. The lighting is disturbing to the eyes, and inside, there is a dirty mattress and a soiled cover with a bad smell."

“On the 29th day of my stay in solitary confinement, I attempted to hang myself using a part of the blanket,” Rami said. “But a guard intervened in time, preventing me from going through with it.”

After spending 30 days in solitary confinement, Rami was transferred to the juvenile section at Megiddo prison inside Israel. The treatment of Palestinian children in the juvenile prison took a turn for the worse after October 7th. 

“On October 7, 2023, members of the suppression unit, part of the Israel Prison Service, entered our room, ordered us to sit with hands on our heads, and photographed us. The next day, they confiscated all electrical appliances,” Rami told DCIP.

“The Israeli suppression unit stormed the courtyard allocated for juvenile detainees, threw stun grenades intensely, and then physically assaulted us with batons,” Rami added. “Afterwards, the suppression unit members sprayed gas on our faces. At that moment, I lost focus, and I and several other children lost consciousness.”

“The room, housing eight children, received one meal a day consisting of a plate of rice insufficient for one person” described Rami. The children decided to begin a hunger strike in protest of their conditions. 

“Our strike lasted for three days, after which the prison director came to inquire about the reason for our strike and our demands. He promised to improve the conditions, especially the number of meals. However, nothing changed; they only added a loaf of bread to the plate of rice,” Rami said.

“Afterward, we expressed our protest again against the poor food and the confiscation of the room's belongings. Unfortunately, we faced repression and beatings again,” Rami told DCIP.

After beating the children, Israeli soldiers took them “to the juvenile section yard, where we were forced to lie on the ground, subjected to repeated assaults amidst shouting, insults, mockery, and ridicule. Afterward, they forced us to carry the Israeli flag in both hands by force. Each prisoner had to walk to their cell bent over, with guards on both sides hitting, cursing, and humiliating them at every step. Due to the severity of the beatings, I began to spit blood,” Rami said.

On November 25, an Israeli guard showed up in the cell and told the child that he will be taken to interrogation and then transferred to solitary confinement. 

“I felt intense fear and sadness,” Rami said. 

However, the child was taken “along with other children, to a waiting room, and then to a room where an intelligence officer questioned me about my future plans. I responded that I would return to my work and focus on myself. The officer informed me that I would be transferred to another prison,” Rami said. 

He was then transferred to Ofer prison, located between Ramallah and Jerusalem, where he was informed that there was a deal for prisoner exchange and that he would be released. He was surprised, as children were “cut off from the outside world due to the confiscation of the televisions and radios,” Rami told DCIP. He was released later that day along with other Palestinian children and women prisoners. 

Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank, like adults, face arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment under an Israeli military detention system that denies them basic rights.

Since 1967, Israel has operated two separate legal systems in the same territory. In the occupied West Bank, Israeli settlers are subject to the civilian and criminal legal system, whereas Palestinians live under military law.

Israel applies civilian criminal law to Palestinian children in East Jerusalem. Notably, no Israeli child comes into contact with the military courts.

However, Israel holds the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that automatically and systematically prosecutes children in military courts lacking fundamental fair trial rights and protections. Shockingly, between 500 and 700 Palestinian children face prosecution in these military courts each year, underscoring the urgent need for international attention to address these systemic injustices.

Transfer of Palestinian detainees, including children, to prisons and interrogation and detention facilities inside Israel, even for brief periods, constitutes an unlawful transfer in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and constitutes a war crime in violation of Article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Israel’s practice of unlawfully transferring Palestinian prisoners out of occupied territory has been challenged twice before the Israeli Supreme Court. In both instances, the court held that when in conflict, primary Israeli legislation overrides the provisions of international law.

*Rami is a pseudonym. The child’s name is known to DCIP but not disclosed in order to protect his privacy.

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