Bara’a and Samah are just two of the 700 Palestinian children Israel detains and prosecutes annually. Every year there are a handful of cases like theirs, in which Palestinian girls with difficulties at home deliberately take knives through checkpoints in order to be arrested. But the most common charge brought against Palestinian children is stone-throwing — often at the concrete mass of the separation wall — an offense punishable by up to twenty years’ imprisonment under Israeli Military Order 378, one of 1,500-plus orders that have dictated Palestinian life under occupation for more than four decades.
In 95 percent of the 700 annual child cases, convictions result from false or improperly obtained confessions, including many that are wrung out of unaccompanied children through coercive interrogation methods or even torture. According to a recent report by Defense for Children International (DCI), “The ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities is widespread, systematic and institutionalised.” During interrogation children as young as 12 are often subject to solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and painful shackling for long periods of time. One boy was told, “I will shoot you in the head if you don’t confess and stick your head in a bucket full of water until you choke and die.” Another yielded after a knife was held to his neck. One 15-year-old, after being shot and arrested, was deceived into signing a … >>>