Children are often taken in the middle of the night, and
soldiers don’t tell their parents where they’re going. Unless
somebody from a rights organization like DCIP hears of the
arrest and provides legal help or other support, a child may go
through the whole system alone—including a jail sentence.
These young people are frequently forced to sign a confession that’s written in Hebrew, a foreign language to them.
And their cases are handled by the military rather than a civil
court because the law says crimes committed by residents of
an occupied territory could be considered acts of war. The
latest data in the DCI—Palestine report, “No Way to Treat a
Child,” shows that at the end of 2015, 422 Palestinian children
were in the Israeli military prison system. Of that number, 116
were between ages of 12 and 15 years-old. The most common
“crime” is throwing rocks, according to the report.
The U.S. State Department released a damning report on
the conditions of child prisoners in the Occupied Palestinian
Territories a few months ago. A very telling sentence buried
about halfway through the report states, “a court sentenced
seven Palestinian minors to between 12 and 39 months in
prison for stone throwing.” Conditions in these prisons were
so inhuman that thousands of inmates recently went on a
The first time military police took Ayed Abu Eqtaish from his home in Ramallah and interrogated him, he was only 12 years-old. After questioning, he
was released without charges. The second time, he wasn’t
as fortunate. Eqtaish was arrested when he was a politically
active university student, and spent the next two and a half
years in an Israeli military prison. “In order to cope in jail,
you have to forget about life outside,” he says. “But you have
to keep hope alive.” And that’s exactly what he did.
After his release, Eqtaish earned a Masters Degree in
Childrens’ Rights from Friburg University in Switzerland and
devoted his life to protecting Palestinian children. Today,
the father of three is the Accountability Program Director
for Defense for Children International—Palestine (DCIP).
The organization, which is supported by Mission & Service,
was launched in 1991 to help children and families survive
and heal from encounters with the brutal military justice
system that is part of their everyday lives in the Occupied
Palestinian Territories. Here, the minimum age of criminal
responsibility is twelve.
Every year, between 500 and 700 children are ripped from
their homes by military police. They are blindfolded, handcuffed, sometimes beaten, and then detained, says Eqtaish.
GLOBAL MISSION & SERVICE 1
Protecting human rights among the most vulnerable.
The plight of children