On December 3rd we got a phone call from Tuqu’ municipality in the Bethlehem area. There had been a night raid in their village where kids had been detained. We called our driver and headed out there to meet with the municipality and the father of one of the detained children.
Thirty Israeli military jeeps and police cars with around two hundred soldiers entered Tuqu’ village at midnight, they told us. They marched the street of the village and stayed until 6 am. The soldiers threw sound bombs in front of peoples houses and entered around fifty houses. All the soldiers either wore balaclavas or had their face painted.
|Military jeeps during night raid in Tuqu'. Photo: Tuqu' municipality|
The father of one of the boys told us that soldiers entered their house, and shouted for his sixteen year old son. They gathered the family in one room, and his son was blindfolded and handcuffed with his hands behind his back, without giving them any reason to do so. His mother wanted to give him some water to drink, but was refused. The soldiers stayed in their home for an hour while they threw furniture around and took pictures of the house and family members, and took everyone’s ID-numbers.
This was only one of eleven cases of detentions during this night raid. The boys who were detained were 13, 14, 15, 16, 16, 16, 16, 16, 17, 18 and 22 years old. In total nine boys under the age of 18.
After six hours the Israeli military and police left Tuqu’ village, taking 11 Palestinians with them, without telling anyone in Tuqu’ where they were taken.
|Israeli soldiers during night raid. Photo: Tuqu' municipality|
“Most children undergo coercive interrogation, mixing verbal abuse, threats, and physical violence, generally resulting in a confession. The most common offence children confess to is throwing stones… …in most cases, the children are either shown, or made to sign, documentation written in Hebrew, a language they do not understand.”
(Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted: Children held in military detention – Defence for Children International, Palestine Section)
So why does these detentions of minors take place? Breaking the silence, which is an organization of former Israeli soldiers telling their stories of their military service, told us that when new soldiers needs to practice a night raid the best way to do so is to actually make a night raid, and to practice an arrest the best way is to actually arrest someone. They also told us that many of the Israeli military’s actions are taken to “make their presence felt”.
According to Save the Children, families often define the rise of juvenile detention in their neighborhood as a tool, used by the Israelis, to make them and their children lose a sense of security and feeling of well being in their own homes.While leaving Tuqu’ after our meeting we are met by a ”flying checkpoint”, set up temporarily consisting of an Israeli military jeep, spike belts and armed soldiers. We are stopped and given a piece of paper with something written in Arabic. A soldier tells our Palestinian driver to translate it to us. He says he will do it later, but the soldier yells at him to do it now, while his assault rifle is leveled at us. The note says that the checkpoint is set up for the protection from dangerous people.
|Flying checkpoint the morning after the night raid. Consisting of spike mats and armed soldiers. Photo: Julie|