Stone Cold Justice ~ John Lyons, Janine Cohen and Sylvie Le Clezio, A SPECIAL FOUR CORNERS / THE AUSTRALIAN NEWSPAPER INVESTIGATION.
The Israeli army is both respected and feared as a fighting force. But now the country’s military is facing a backlash at home and abroad for its treatment of children in the West Bank, [ILLEGALLY] occupied territory.
A SPECIAL FOUR CORNERS / THE AUSTRALIAN NEWSPAPER INVESTIGATION
Monday 10 February 2014
The Israeli army is both respected and feared as a fighting force. But now the country’s military is facing a backlash at home and abroad for its treatment of children in the West Bank, occupied territory.
Coming up, a joint investigation by Four Corners and The Australian newspaper reveals evidence that shows the army is targeting Palestinian boys for arrest and detention. Reporter John Lyons travels to the West Bank to hear the story of children who claim they have been taken into custody, ruthlessly questioned and then allegedly forced to sign confessions before being taken to court for sentencing.
He meets Australian lawyer Gerard Horton, who’s trying to help the boys who are arrested, and talks to senior Israeli officials to examine what’s driving the army’s strategy.
The program focuses on the stories of three boys. In two cases the army came for the children in the middle of the night, before taking them to unknown locations where they are questioned. A mother of one of the boys described the scene:
“Every soldier stood at the door of a room. I was telling him ‘What do you want with him?’ He said ‘Shut up woman.’ And then they started hitting him and pulling him out of bed.”
“They started kicking me with their boots in my stomach, slaps on my face. They pulled me up by my t-shirt and took me out of bed.” Arrested boy
Is this, as many Israelis suggest, simply part of the drive to maintain security? Or is it, as Palestinians claim, part of a much wider plan to make life in the West Bank intolerable for them?
“I think that they want to kick us out of here and drive us away because they don’t want Arabs in this area.”
It’s a claim that’s dismissed out of hand by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
“Let me say this very clearly. There is no such policy. A policy to create fear? There is no such thing. The only policy is to maintain law and order, that’s all. If there’s no violence, there’s no law enforcement.” Yigal Palmor
The United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) has been investigating these claims and last year released a scathing report finding that “children have been threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault.”
As Four Corners discovered, though, Palestinian children have more to fear than the Israeli army. Reporter John Lyons shows clear evidence that Israeli settlers in the West Bank regularly attack Palestinian school children, knowing the authorities will not intervene. He also discovers there are two legal systems operating. One for Israeli children and one for young Palestinians. It’s an impossible situation that may provide temporary security for Israel, but in the long term may well breed a new generation of Palestinians prepared to do anything to gain retribution.
STONE COLD JUSTICE, reported by John Lyons and presented by Kerry O’Brien, goes to air on Monday 10th February at 8.30pm on ABC1. It is replayed on Tuesday 11th February at 11.35pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.
STONE COLD JUSTICE – Monday 10 February 2014
KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: A New generation of hatred in the making, welcome to Four Corners.
Imagine in a major Australian city or in any other civilised society, regular late nigh raids on family homes by heavily armed soldiers to take away children in blindfolds and handcuffs for interrogations. Imagine a military prison where the inmates include children as young as 12, in shackles. Such is the distortion of life in a region of broken peace plans and deeply imbedded hostilities between 2.5 million Palestinians and 350,000 Israeli settlers after more than 40 years of military occupation.
A UNICEF report last year found that Palestinian children had been threatened under interrogation by Israeli security forces with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault against themselves or a family member while demanding confessions for alleged offences, most commonly stone throwing. UNICEF estimates that over the past decade an average of 700 children a year have been detained, interrogated and processed through Israel’s military court.
In tonight’s story a joint investigation by Four Corners and The Australian newspaper, outlines the way justice is practiced with regard to the children of the West Bank. The reporter is The Australian’s Middle East correspondent, John Lyons.
JOHN LYONS, REPORTER: A peaceful evening in a small Palestinian village. A 14 year-old-boy and his family sleep.
(Sound of car driving up a drive way at night, a knock on the front door of a house)
JOHN LYONS: Suddenly, the night is shattered.
The Israeli army is making a raid. Their target is the boy who they claim has thrown stones at them.
His mother recalls that moment.
QSAI ZAMARA’S MOTHER, NAHAWAND: Every soldier stood at the door of a room. I was telling them ‘What do you want with him?’ He said ‘Shut up woman.’ And they started hitting him and pulling him out of bed. We told them he needs to get dressed, so I gave him a jacket to wear but the soldier started making fun and started laughing. ‘Here give me the jacket, I’ll wear it’, he told me.
JOHN LYONS: Qsai Zamara insists he’s done nothing wrong, but this begins an 18 day nightmare.
QSAI ZAMARA: There was this big machine with all the electric wires in it, connected to the electricity. He wanted to give me electric shock with it. He would throw me on the ground and hit me, things like that. He also had a whip with a hose which he hit me with.
JOHN LYONS: At the age of 15 the life of this boy was also turned upside down.
FATHI MAHFOUZ: I didn’t run away because I knew I didn’t do anything. They opened fire and hit me with three or four rubber bullets. I was also hit with a gas canister.
JOHN LYONS: Fathi Mahfouz would spend the next 82 days in prison – beginning with an interrogation.
FATHI MAHFOUZ: They were holding electric batons and they hit me with them. One of the officers lifted up his mask. They all had charcoal on their faces and their eyes were black. He would talk to me and frown at me to scare me and he hit me. He gave me electric shocks.
(Footage of an interrogation)
JOHN LYONS: As a 14-year-old Islam Dar Ayyoub has also come up against Israel’s security services.
ISLAM DAR AYYOUB: He told me ‘Here, sign this paper.’ I told him ‘It’s in Hebrew and I can’t read Hebrew. Can you read it to me?’ He said ‘It’s for your release. You need to sign it.’ After I signed it at the court. I was surprised to find out it was a confession paper.
(Sound of crowd arguing as boys are arrested)
JOHN LYONS: These boys are part of the new frontline in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
They’re among the 700 Palestinian children brought each year before Israel’s military court.
GERARD HORTON, MILITARY COURT WATCH: You never know when there’s going to be the bang on the door in the middle of the night and soldiers are going to demand that you bring out your children and one of them is taken away.
JOHN LYONS: Onto this frontline has walked Australian lawyer Gerard Horton.
He left his practice as a commercial law barrister in Sydney six years ago and is now leading a campaign to end a system under which Palestinian children have fewer rights than Israeli children – including being subjected to night-time arrests by heavily-armed soldiers.
GERARD HORTON: That has a paralysing effect on whole communities, and it’s that fear and intimidation that makes this system work so effectively well with relatively few soldiers on the ground and so it also makes it quite a cost-effective occupation.
YIGAL PALMOR, ISRAEL INTERNATIONAL SPOKESMAN: Let me say this very clearly. There is no such policy. A policy to create fear? There is no such thing. The only policy is to maintain law and order, that’s all. If there’s no violence, there’s no law enforcement.
VOX POP: The president of the United States.
(Music and crowd cheering as Barack Obama takes the stage)
JOHN LYONS: But US president Barack Obama told Israelis last year that this problem will not resolve itself.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Put yourself in their shoes; look at the world through their eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own, living their entire lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movement of not just those young people, but their parents and their grandparents every single day.
JOHN LYONS: However, leaders of Israel’s settler movement like Daniella Weiss do not agree.
DANIELLA WEISS, LEADER, SETTLER MOVEMENT: We came to a land where there were other people living, but this land was promised to the Jewish nation by god. All the other people who live here will accept Jewish sovereignty in the Promised Land. This is the only way I see it, so those who accept it live nicely. Those who do not accept it encounter confrontations.
JOHN LYONS: Those confrontations occur mostly near settlements.
In 1967 Israel began occupying the West Bank, which is also known as the Palestinian territories.
Since then settlements, widely regarded as illegal under international law, have come to dominate the West Bank.
Israel insists they are not illegal.
GERARD HORTON: So take a situation involving two children in the West Bank throwing stones, one a Palestinian child, one an Israeli child living in the settlements. The Palestinian child will be prosecuted in a military jurisdiction with far fewer rights and protections, whereas his Israeli counterpart, living sometimes 500 metres away, will be prosecuted in a juvenile justice system which meets international standards and complies, is a sort of system you would expected in any western-style democracy.
LT. COL. MAURICE HIRSH: It is without question very problematic when you see that there are possibly very young children being arrested at in the early hours of the morning.
JOHN LYONS: Lieutenant Colonel Maurice Hirsh is the Israeli army officer who oversees prosecutions at the military court.
LT. COL. MAURICE HIRSH: It’s unfortunately an operational necessity because of the widespread, widespread disturbance of the peace that that occur when once we try to carry out the arrest during the day and the reluctance of the person, population to co-operate a priority with the law enforcement agencies.
(Street sounds of Hebron)
JOHN LYONS: To understand Israel’s two different legal systems it helps to come to Hebron – the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank.
Here 800 Israeli settlers live in the centre of Hebron surrounded by 180,000 Palestinians.
This used to be a thriving Palestinian market. The effect of Israel’s occupation is obvious – now it’s a ghost town.
Israeli soldiers will not allow Palestinians to walk along these streets.
(Sound of Israeli soldier)
Palestinians say they’ve been forced out and many buildings taken over by the settlers protected by soldiers.
This Palestinian man wants to walk along this street.
PALESTINIAN: I am from Hebron. I can or cannot?
SOLDIER: You cannot.
PALESTINIAN: The first time I visited here I could.
SOLDIER: No you can’t.
JOHN LYONS: Can I just ask why, why can’t the Palestinians walk this way?
SOLDIER: This is the order I got.
(John Lyons talking to Palestinian)
JOHN LYONS: As a Palestinian why can’t you walk there?
PALESTINIAN: I asked him that I want to pass to go to the cemetery to visit my father’s grave. He said you cannot.
JOHN LYONS: I just find it interesting that we as foreigners and I as an Australian can walk there, but you two are Palestinians in the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank and you cannot walk.
When we visited Hebron it was early morning – many Palestinian children were walking to school.
Suddenly we heard tear gas being fired, the Israeli army told us in response to stone throwing.
We couldn’t confirm this, but we saw these Israeli police assembling. Then they fired tear gas towards the children.
(Sound of alarms and tear gas bombs)
JOHN LYONS: We could see no provocation from the children who were trying to avoid the gas.
The teachers said tear gas was fired here almost every day.
TEACHER: Every day is like this.
JOHN LYONS: And why do you think the Israelis do it?
TEACHER: They do it to protect their settlements. But we want to study with our children. In the last week we took three kids to the hospital from the gas.
(John Lyons walks up to police)
JOHN LYONS: Hi how are you? Do you speak English?
We approached the police.
We are from Australian television…
POLICE 2: We cannot talk with you.
JOHN LYONS: But can I just ask one thing? Excuse me, we’ve just been standing here now. Why did you fire the tear gas towards those children going to school?
POLICE 2: We can’t talk to you. We cannot talk to you. Thank you.
JOHN LYONS: No but they appear to be children going to school normally, can I ask you why you fired this and the other tear gas at them?
(Sound of crowd yelling as boys are arrested)
JOHN LYONS: Hebron has long been a flash point.
What occurs openly here – one law for Israelis, one for Palestinians – is typical of the West Bank, according to Yehuda Shaul, who served here as an Israeli army commander.
YEHUDA SHAUL, FORMER ISRAELI COMMANDER: The DNA of the military occupation that we see in Hebron we see all over the West Bank.
JOHN LYONS: Yehuda Shaul founded Breaking the Silence – 950 current and former Israeli combat soldiers trying to end human rights abuses.
YEHUDA SHAUL: I’ve broke into houses in the middle of the night in Jerusalem and tore apart apartments. But in Hebron where I served for 14 months 24/7 that’s what we’ve done, in order to make our presence felt.
(Soldiers talking to crowd)
JOHN LYONS: Last July one case shocked many.
JOHN LYONS: On the streets of Hebron five-year-old Wadi’a Mawadeh was picked up by soldiers. An Israeli settler had claimed that he had thrown a stone at him.
His friend tried to help.
DIA QAFEESHEH, WADI’A’S FRIEND: I kept holding his hand but the soldiers pulled him away from me and pushed me against the door.
(Wadi’a crying as he is led to soldiers car)
DIA QAFEESHEH: I said ‘Don’t be scared, I’m with you.’ He was hugging me from fear. I was upset, I had tears in my eyes but stopped myself from crying and kept holding him and hugging him.
WADI’A MAWADEH: I was playing and then a car came. The man said I threw a stone at the car. The Jewish man went and told them I threw a stone at him.
JOHN LYONS: The boy is taken by six soldiers. He was released after two hours.
One settler, making one allegation, is able to activate this level of military intervention against a five-year-old.
When his father intervenes, he is blindfolded.
SHAUQI MAWADEH, WADI’A’S UNCLE: Even though they all know us, they know we are residents of this area. They do this because this is their way of forcing us away. That’s their work.
JOHN LYONS: [Talking to Wadi’a] When you see an Israeli soldier in the street what do you think?
WADI’A MASWADEH: I’m scared of them.
JOHN LYONS: And what happened when they took you to the van? What happened?
WADI’A MASWADEH: I was crying.
YEHUDA SHAUL: Look from my service, I don’t actually remember children. I have some memories of Palestinian children when you burst into houses in the middle of the night and children start to cry or whatever, but these are the vague memories I have from my service, because just the idea that there is children and adults is not an idea that you have there. Okay, when you are in uniform it’s them and us.
GABY LASKY, ISRAELI LAWYER: I want people to think what they would do if their five-year-old child was being taken by an occupier’s army, even by your local police.
JOHN LYONS: Gaby Lasky is a prominent Israeli lawyer who defends Palestinians.
GABY LASKY: If a five-year-old was being held by an authority that is not you, you would do anything in order to try to get your child back. Military courts are the long arm of the occupation. We’re not talking about courts of justice; we are talking about courts of occupation.
YEHUDA SHAUL: Look, I grew up believing that our actions as a military in the occupied territories are here to protect Israel from terrorism. What I’ve learned from my three years of service and nine years of activism and Breaking the Silence, after reading testimonies of over 950 soldiers, is that the main story here is about maintaining our absolute military control over Palestinians.
JOHN LYONS: Palestinians say the soldiers are working in concert with the settlers.
(Soldiers pushing crowds away as they fight amongst each other)
JOHN LYONS: This vision shot by a Swedish documentary maker shows settlers attacking Palestinian children while soldiers stand by.
PALESTINIAN WOMAN: You see? You see?
SOLDER 3: I see. There’s nothing we can do.
PALESTINIAN GIRL: I see, I see…
SOLDIER 3: Ok.
JOHN LYONS: And here a settler fires live ammunition – hitting a Palestinian youth in the side of the head. Again, soldiers stand by.
YEHUDA SHAUL: When we see settlers attacking a Palestinian, our orders are not to intervene.
(Children walking along road)
JOHN LYONS: Palestinian children face danger on two fronts – night arrests from the army and violence from settlers.
To get to school each day these children need to walk past this settler outpost.
Attacks from settlers have become so bad that the army escorts the children. But school has finished early and the army has not turned up.
Today, the children are on their own.
Their only protection is this Israeli volunteer, who hopes by carrying a camera he will deter settlers.
JOHN LYONS: How do you feel? You’re a Jewish Israeli. How do you feel about this?
GUY BUTAVIA: I can’t describe this in words. Because I feel myself partly a Holocaust survivor, because my grandfather was a Holocaust survivor. He was partisan. He ran away for a few years and all his family died in the Holocaust and I don’t get it how, how for one who made, who is suffering from all those stuff, we became people that are making other people suffering for our bad behaviour. It breaks me, it really breaks me.
JOHN LYONS: But the suffering is on both sides.
Three-year-old Adele Biton has brain damage and may never recover.
ADVA BITON, ADELE’S MOTHER: Eight months ago I was driving back from my parents’ home, back to my home in Yakir, when Palestinian terrorists threw large building stones on my car. The stones, the building stones, hit Adele’s head and also caused me to bump into a truck. We fighting together to get her back to life. I know, I don’t think it’s fair for her to sleep here in the bed and don’t do things like children her age. It’s not fair.
JOHN LYONS: When someone throws stones or blocks, building blocks, whether they’re Palestinian or Jewish, do you think it should be the same law for both?
ADVA BITON: For both because we need to highlight the words, stones kills, stones kills.
LT. COL MAURICE HIRSH: Her three-year-old child is basically is still in hospital and it’s unlikely that she will recover from that event. That is terrorism.
JOHN LYONS: Lieutenant Colonel Maurice Hirsh says arrests have been made following the attack.
LT. COL MAURICE HIRSH : We’re now dealing with five minors who threw stones at some 20-odd cars on a fast road at night time, they stood as a group at the side of the road and pounded the passing cars with stones. They hit, they hit a number of cars on the way.
GERARD HORTON: If you throw a stone at a vehicle travelling at 70 kilometres an hour, that can kill, there’s no question it can be very dangerous. And that’s why I think it’s so important to look at the evidence. The evidence collected by the Israeli organisation, B’Tselem, shows that since November 2000 four people have been killed in the West Bank from people throwing stones at vehicles – one was a Palestinian, three were Israeli settlers, two of those were infants.
JOHN LYONS: While stone throwing can indeed be serious, critics say it’s been used as a catch all charge to arrest Palestinian children.
When Qsai Zamara was woken by soldiers at 2am he had no idea what was ahead of him.
QSAI ZAMARA: They started kicking me with their boots on my stomach and slapping me. They pulled me up with my shirt and dragged me out of bed.
SALWA DUAIBIS, CENTRE FOR WOMEN (WCLAC): He saw soldiers in his bedroom, which was a very frightening experience for him. One of the soldiers kicked him with his boot, he grabbed him from his t-shirt, pulled him out of bed and dragged him outside. Qusai watched his father totally helpless, his mother crying and shouting unable to do anything, and his younger siblings, his sisters totally devastated by what was going on.
JOHN LYONS: Qsai was taken by military vehicle to an interrogation centre.
QSAI ZAMARA: All the way he was hitting me. He didn’t let me use the toilet or sleep or eat. I was kept standing. I wasn’t allowed to move. Every time I did anything, he’d hit me.
SALWA DUAIBIS: Qsai wanted to know what the interrogator wanted him to confess to and he said I want you to confess to throwing stones. And he said how do you expect me to confess to something I didn’t do. And then the interrogator got very upset and he actually slapped him with a piece of plastic hose that he had and threatened to electrocute him.
QSAI ZAMARA: He started swearing at me and hitting me. He said ‘Either confess or we will beat you up and bring your parents, beat them up too and break their bones.”
JOHN LYONS: Finally, Qsai gave in.
QSAI ZAMARA : It went on for about two hours until I confessed. I told him ‘Yes, I threw stones’. He said okay. He brought some papers and took me to his office, he typed something on the computer, got some papers and told me to sign them. I asked what the papers were, he said ‘They’re your confessions’. God knows what he’d written, but he’d written other things about me. He had written that I had hit a settler and her daughter.
NAHAWAND ZAMARA, QSAI’S MOTHER: If I could’ve laid my hands on a soldier at the time, I would’ve strangled him, killed him.
JOHN LYONS: After the arrests children are brought to facilities such as this, which dot the West Bank and are used by the army and police to imprison and interrogate.
Threats are often made at these centres.
GERARD HORTON: You’ll be subjected to violence if you don’t confess, you will be detained for an extended period of time if you don’t confess. Again, the intelligence is usually very good, so the interrogator will know if that child’s father has a work permit, for example, to work inside Israel. If that’s the case, the threats sometimes are of the nature of we will revoke your father’s work permit unless you confess.
(John Lyons talking to Fathi Mahfouz)
JOHN LYONS: Could you show me what happened to you?
When Fathi Mahfouz was returning home he came across confrontations between the army and youths.
He says he was not involved but was taken away for 82 days.
He was just 15.
FATHI MAHFOUZ: Because I didn’t confess, he sent me to a room that has a cross in it and hung me on it. I was standing on the tips of my toes, and all my weight was on the handcuffs and my toes. I was hung and he kept hitting me.
GERARD HORTON: The interrogator started yelling at him and then what Fathi says is that he was then placed on some sort of wooden device on the wall, similar in shape to a cross, although it had two legs. He says that his legs were shackled to this wooden structure. His hands were shackled to this structure and he was left there for several hours.
FATHI MAHFOUZ: Because of all the shaking, a piece of wood snapped. And he kept hitting me. He would ask me ‘Don’t you want to confess?’ I would say ‘I won’t confess to something I didn’t do.’ But he said ‘Yes, you did things’. I said I didn’t and he kept hitting me.
JOHN LYONS: Fathi says after five hours he was taken down from the structure.
FATHI MAHFOUZ: I was in pain. Then white foam started coming out of my mouth. Two men came and took me to first aid. Then my chest was cramped. I couldn’t breathe. They took me to the same area I was in, to the same building, there was this small clinic. He took me in and asked me ‘Where’s the pain?’, then he’d press on it and hit it, and make fun of me.
JOHN LYONS: From his experience interviewing hundreds of Palestinians children, Gerard Horton says one interrogator stands out.
GERARD HORTON: This particular interrogator specialises in threatening children with rape and he makes very specific allegations. He will name someone who apparently is waiting outside the interrogation room who will, if the child doesn’t confess, will come in and rape that child.
JOHN LYONS: The Australian lawyer found one boy’s testimony particularly disturbing.
GERARD HORTON: What he says happened is somebody then put some food, he thinks it was bread, on top of his head and then the dog was brought over and made to eat the food off his head. He was terrified by this experience. He could hear the dog next to him drooling all over him. He was fearful that he was going to be bitten at any moment. Then someone put food, he was dressed but someone put food on his genitals and the dog was then made to eat the food off that part of his trousers.
JOHN LYONS: After interrogation children are brought here for trial – Ofer Military Prison, near Jerusalem. The army would not let Four Corners film inside.
I’ve been behind these walls three times. I saw children shuffling across the courtyard, handcuffed and shackled. Some hearings lasted sixty seconds. I saw one boy shout the name of his prison so his mother would know where he was being held. I saw the judge convict some children without even once looking at them. Through it all, what I saw a conveyor belt of convicted child.
GERARD HORTON: I think perhaps to give you some indication of how efficient, from a military perspective, this system is, according to the military courts own records, their annual report, the courts have a conviction rate of around 99.74 per cent.
(People and children yelling)
JOHN LYONS: Typically, a Palestinian boy convicted of throwing stones will be sentenced to about three months imprisonment.
The United Nation’s children’s agency, UNICEF, last year released a scathing report on Israel’s system.
It found that Palestinian children had been threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault against themselves or a family member.
GERARD HORTON: The report found that that ill treatment was widespread, systematic and institutionalised throughout the system from the moment that the child was arrested right up until the sentencing process.
YIGAL PALMOR: The natural reaction is that this is an intolerable – these are intolerable cases, and that I would like my authorities to do their utmost to make sure that this will not be repeated and that this will change. And I believe that this is precisely what we are doing.
JOHN LYONS: Last month, under pressure from human rights groups, Israel stopped a longstanding practice of keeping children overnight in outdoor cages. Children had been kept freezing in the cages during snowstorms.
While Israel appears to be making concessions, others argue this disguises a harsher reality.
Four Corners has learnt that the Israeli security services now have a new strategy.
They bring Palestinian children as young as 12 to massive interrogation facilities like this one.
The security services are now targeting the children as a way of gathering information on their villages, including asking them about their neighbours and family.
GABY LASKY: I can see a pattern that Israel’s hasn’t been able to put down the non-violent movement in the occupied territories through violent means. So the best way to do that is by incriminating those leaders, and the easiest way to do that, to achieve, to get those incriminations is by arresting children which are the weakest link,
JOHN LYONS: So they’re using children to gather intelligence?
GABY LASKY: One hundred per cent.
JOHN LYONS: Islam Dar Ayyoub was 14 when Israeli soldiers arrived at his house at 2am.
IQBAL DAR AYYOUB, ISLAM’S MOTHER: We were asleep, two in the morning. They were banging on the door in a very violent manner. We opened the door. ‘Move! Move!’ Their weapons were aimed at us. I said ‘But why? Tell me what it is? What has this child done?’ ‘Shut up’, hitting me and his sister and father, then took us inside and closed the door with the teargas and stun grenades.
(Soldier knocking on door)
JOHN LYONS: Islam’s arrest was part of practice by the Israeli army known as “mapping”. Palestinian children are now regularly woken up at night, photographed and questioned about which bed they sleep in.
(Soldiers inside family home questioning family members)
JOHN LYONS: This video shows Islam, on the right, and his brother being photographed by Israeli soldiers after being woken up.
GABY LASKY: What the army has done is that they have come to all the houses in the village and asked for the children in the house to show them where they sleep. They take pictures of the child, they ask for their ID numbers and they map them.
JOHN LYONS: Three days after mapping this house the army returns in a night-time raid and arrests Islam.
(Police running after boy as women yells)
JOHN LYONS: Later, police come for Islam’s nine-year-old brother, Karim.
(Police arresting Karim and putting him in a van)
GABY LASKY: He was nine-years-old I think when he was first arrested, Karim, which is completely unacceptable, even to the army authorities.
JOHN LYONS: Islam’s interrogation was filmed.
(Footage of interrogation room)
INTERROGATOR: And this is the guy from your statement, the one in charge?
JOHN LYONS: It quickly becomes clear that what the authorities really want is information about the leaders of the non-violent protest movement in the town, including Bassem Tamimi.
INTERROGATOR: And who is this other guy?
ISLAM: That’s Uncle Bassem.
INTERROGATOR: Uncle Bassem.
JOHN LYONS: Enormous pressure can be applied during these interrogations.
GERARD HORTON: You tell the child you can be released today if you just from time to time provide us with a little bit of information about who the trouble-makers in the village are. Or sometimes there’s offers of money, generally not a great deal of money, but the child can be offered money, mobile phone, threatened sometimes.
INTERROGATOR: Do you know who this guy is? Who is he?
ISLAM: I’ve seen his face, I’ve seen him a lot.
NADER ABU AMSHA, DIRECTOR, YMCA REHABILITATION PROGRAM: They are trying to know information about the village and about the life of people, the families, the attitudes, the attitudes of the community and all of these. And the most vicious and the most horrible thing to push people to collaborate as collaborators with occupiers, to put them under the stick and carrot process. If you reject this, if you are refusing this you will be punished, you will, you will stay longer in prison.
So this kind of converting a child who’s not responsible on his act to be a collaborator is not just helping in information gathering for the Israelis, it’s breaking this child forever.
ISLAM DAR AYYOUB: I confessed that I threw stones and told them about who threw stones, but the interrogator said ‘We want you to say that, we want you to say these names.’
YIGAL PALMOR: There has to be a pattern because the interrogators will want to gather information about possible violence emerging from a certain area or from certain people. And I think that’s perfectly legitimate to ask people who are arrested for being involved in violent actions, to ask them where they come from, why they have been involved in such violent actions, who sent them and whether there are more people coming from the same place with the same intent.
JOHN LYONS: Bassem Tamimi rejects the violence supported by his cousin Ahlam Tamimi, who in 2001 masterminded a terror attack in Jerusalem.
BASSEM TAMIMI: We reject all type of terrorists around the world. We are against harming the human being life for any reason, but we are struggling for our right to live in peace and to build a state of peace for everyone and we ask our enemy to remove the occupation.
(Daniella Weiss pointing at a map)
JOHN LYONS: But this will never happen, according to Daniella Weiss, a founder of the settler movement.
In the 1970s Daniella Weiss would regularly meet Ariel Sharon, then minister for agriculture, to plan settlements so no Palestinian state could emerge.
You and Ariel Sharon were determined there would not be a Palestinian state?
DANIELLA WEISS: With our many talks with Ariel Sharon, and with my work with Ariel Sharon, there was a clear understanding, a very clear planning of spreading the communities, the Jewish communities in the way that there will be no option for a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria.
JOHN LYONS: Despite international condemnation, settlement growth is surging.
If a Palestinian child said to you what is the hope for me, for my future, to have my own state, what would you say to that child?
DANIELLA WEISS: This land was promised to the Jews by god and all of it. It’s true that in the course of history Arabs came to this area from all over, but the promise of god is more important than the changes in history and the political changes. That is why you have to put it deep, deep into your mind, that you do not have any chance whatsoever in any point of history, neither you nor any of your offspring to ever have an independent state of your own here.
JOHN LYONS: For five-year-old Wadi’a Mawadeh and his friend Dia Qafeesheh there seems little hope.
Do you feel safer in your home in bed at night?
WADI’A MAWADEH: I feel scared.
JOHN LYONS: Do you want to stay living in Hebron?
WADI’A MAWADEH: I want to leave.
JOHN LYONS: You want to leave? Where do you want go to?
WADI’A MAWADEH: Amman.
DIA QAFEESHEH: All they want are the houses. An officer held me and told me ‘Five years and you’ll be out of the houses. Your houses have been sold. You have no houses.’
SALWA DUAIBIS: This is how these communities are torn apart. In the middle of the night when no-one is watching and it is done one family at a time, one house at a time, and it’s systematic and relentless.
(Family sitting at dinner table as the mother looks after them)
JOHN LYONS: The system is devastating families.
ZAMARA NAHAWAND: The time they came and knocked on our door, until now, I still daily wake up at the same time.
IQBAL DAR AROUB, ISLAM’S MOTHER: When I went into the court… [crying] sorry, even now the sound of chains that my son, my baby was shackled in, the sound of the chain clanking, clanking, even now it still rings in my ears.
JOHN LYONS: The boys are clearly traumatised.
FATHI MAHFOUZ : I used to trust anyone. But when I got out of jail I stopped trusting my friends.
ISLAM DAR AYYOUB: I just like to stay awake, just in case they come back to take me.
(Group of boys standing together and yelling out)
NADER ABU AMSHA: Sometimes you feel that these kids will be lost forever, so our work with them is to help these kids get rid of the psychological impact which might destroy the lives and which might lead them to whatever extreme you can imagine.
JOHN LYONS: This long conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is one of cycles and revenge.
Today, Israel is strong.
But what happens when this generation of Palestinian children comes of age?
KERRY O’BRIEN: Israeli authorities have responded to some of the recommendations made in UNICEF’s report; ‘Children in Israeli Military Detention’. They have agreed to pilot two areas in the West Bank where children are issued with summons rather than being arrested at home at night. To date, this pilot hasn’t begun.
Next week on Four Corners, inside the secret state of North Korea, with rare hidden camera footage providing further evidence of the abuses, hardship of life in the hermit kingdom.
Until then, goodnight.
Zionist Federation of Australia responds – ZFA President, Philip Chester, wrote this official statement in response to Four Corners.
Read this statement by President Robert Goot of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, written in response to the program, and available on their Facebook page.
‘Four Corners welcomed by APAN’. Read the full response from The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network to the report ‘Stone Cold Justice’.
FOUR CORNERS PHOTO GALLERY
Four Corners Gallery – Filmmaker Sylvie Le Clezio took the following pictures for Four Corners during the making of the report ‘Stone Cold Justice’.
REPORT: Children in Israeli Military Detention: Observations and Recommendations | UNICEF | Feb 2013 – In this briefing paper UNICEF recommends measures so that Palestinian children in Israeli military custody are treated in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international standards.
Children in Israeli Military Detention: Observations and Recommendations | UNICEF Bulletin No. 1 | Oct 2013 – On 6 March 2013, UNICEF released its paper entitled ‘Children in Israeli Military Detention – Observations and Recommendations’. Since the publication of the UNICEF paper, the Military Prosecutor has been engaging closely with UNICEF and has been reviewing the recommendations of the UNICEF paper. This engagement is facilitating a deeper analysis and understanding of the process of military arrest, detention and prosecution in the West Bank. [PDF 123 Kb]
Children Affected by Armed Conflict | UNICEF Bulletin | Jul 2013 – Since 2007, a UNICEF-led working group has consolidated efforts to report on the impacts of armed conflict on children in Israel and the State of Palestine. The bulletin is published on a bi-monthly basis highlighting trends and patterns in grave violations against children. This edition covers the second quarter of 2013.[PDF 345Kb]
Children in Military Custody: A report written by a delegation of British lawyers on the treatment of Palestinian | Jun 2013 – This report assesses the treatment of Palestinian children under Israeli military law, examining each stage in the process: arrest, interrogation, bail hearings and plea bargains, trial, sentencing, detention and complaints.
Humanitarian Atlas | UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs | Dec 2012 – A map atlas that includes maps, infographics and statistics on humanitarian issues facing Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory. [PDF 49Mb]
Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted: Children held in military detention | DCI-Palestine | Apr 2012 – The report is the culmination of four year’s work by DCI, with the support of the European Union, focusing on verifying reports of ill-treatment and torture of children in the Israeli military detention system. Download.
UNICEF CO Situation Report | 31 Jul 2013 – The main manifestations of the Israeli occupation across the occupied Palestinian territory have barely changed and as a result serious protection and human rights concerns and limited access to essential services including education and health continued to characterize the day-to-day lives of many Palestinians. Read this update from UNICEF. [PDF 786Kb]
Israeli security forces accused of using Palestinian children to gather intelligence | ABC News | 10 Feb 2014 – Israel’s security services have been accused by lawyers and youth workers of using Palestinian children to gather intelligence.
Palestinian children pawns in an unjust system |The Australian | 8 Feb 2014 – “Sitting in the heavily fortified headquarters of the Israeli army in Tel Aviv a few months ago, we were surrounded by some of the world’s most advanced military technology…” Article by John Lyons.
Obama expresses support for Kerry’s ‘principled’ Mideast diplomacy | Haaretz | 6 Feb 2014 – During interfaith breakfast in Washington, the president praised Kerry’s efforts in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israeli settlers: ‘If we have to live in a Palestinian state, so be it’ | The Jewish Chronicle | 6 Feb 2014 – Many on the Israeli right reacted with outrage at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent suggestion that, under a peace agreement, Israelis living in West Bank settlements could choose to remain under Palestinian sovereignty. But, among settlers themselves, it seems that all options are on the table.
‘Israel is losing support’ warns ambassador Matthew Gould | The Jewish Chronicle | 23 Jan 2014 – Israel is losing support across Europe due to its approach to the Palestinians and West Bank settlements, Britain’s ambassador in Tel Aviv has warned.
UNICEF on ‘Children in Israeli military detention’: first progress report | 14 Oct 2013 – On 6 March 2013, UNICEF released a briefing paper titled ‘Children in Israeli military detention’ which outlined practical measures to improve the treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military custody.
Full text of Obama’s 2013 speech at UN General Assembly | The Times of Israel | 24 Sep 2013 – Breakthroughs on Iran’s nuclear program and Israeli-Palestinian peace ‘would have a profound and positive impact on the entire Middle East and North Africa,’ says US president. Read more.
In a West Bank Culture of Conflict, Boys Wield the Weapon at Hand | New York Times | 4 Aug 2013 – Muhammad Abu Hashem, 17, was sleeping in a sleeveless undershirt when the Israeli soldiers stormed into his home here at 4 a.m. on the second Monday in July. As they led him away moments later, Muhammad’s mother rushed after with a long-sleeved shirt: they both knew it would be cold in the interrogation room.
Israeli law tears Palestinian families apart | Al Jazeera | 19 Jul 2013 – Children are often denied access to their families amid controversial citizenship laws.
Toddler injured in terror attack fights for her life | Y-Net | 3 Mar 2013 – Adele Biton, 3, is fighting for her life after she sustained critical injuries terror attack in the West Bank.
Bob Carr raises concerns over plight of Palestinian children in Israeli jails | The Australian | 28 Jul 2012 – Australia has formally raised concerns with Israel about the detention of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons. By John Lyons, Middle East correspondent.
Stone cold justice | The Australian | 26 Nov 2011 – “We’re sitting in an Israeli military court which is attached to the Ofer prison in the West Bank, 25 minutes from Jerusalem. Mondays and Tuesdays are “children’s days”. Hundreds of Palestinian children from the age of 12 are brought here each year to be tried under Israeli military law for a range of offences.” An article by John Lyons.
Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) is a national coalition of organisations and individuals seeking to influence Australia’s public policy in regard to Palestine and Israel. apan.org.au/
Breaking the Silence | @BtSIsrael – An organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories.http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/
Defence for Children International-Palestine – DCI-Palestine is dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights of Palestinian children in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), as well as other international, regional and local standards. www.dci-palestine.org/
East Jerusalem YMCA Rehabilitation Program – The place where people with disabilities, traumatized and victims of torture find a listening ear and a lending hand. www.ej-ymca.org/
ECAJ – Executive Council of Australian Jews – The peak organisation for representing Jews in Australia. www.ecaj.org.au/
Military Court Watch – MCW is a voluntary association established by a group of lawyers and other professionals who share a belief in the rule of law. www.militarycourtwatch.org/
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – OCHA’s Country Office in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) was established in 2002 to support international efforts to respond to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the oPt.www.ochaopt.org/
UN Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict – To promote and protect the rights of all children affected by armed conflict. childrenandarmedconflict.un.org/
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