They broke down the door before sunrise and about 30 Israeli soldiers stormed the family home.
The subject of their arrest? Twelve-year-old Amar, whom they accused of attending a protest against land clearing in the Naqab area. But his mother says the family is still unsure why they took him, as the boy was at home at the time.
“We do not know exactly why he was arrested. At 5:30 a.m., 30 Israeli soldiers slammed the door with their feet. We were scared and they asked for him while he slept, “Amar’s mother recalled.
“He is 12, he can’t go to school because he is under house arrest. Israeli authorities have banned him from going to school for 10 days since yesterday. I was shocked when we were informed about this. I shouted at them, “What can a 12-year-old do to you?” I was so afraid he would be beaten or tortured in prison, he was so scared and crying, “she said.
Amar was detained and eventually sent home. He has not said a word since he returned, and his family is worried about what happened to him in custody.
For days, protests in the Naqab desert flared as Palestinian Bedouins fought for their very existence and opposed an aggressive afforestation project monitored by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a Zionist organization.
The JNF has been planting non-native pine trees on Palestinian soil for decades, with the ultimate goal of expanding Israel’s resettlement program.
This particular project costs a staggering $ 48 million and has the full support of the Israeli government.
The organization plans to destroy Bir al-Sabe (Beer Sheva) in the Nakab Desert, in particular a village called Sawa, and according to Marwan Abu Frie, a field researcher and coordinator of the Naqab (Negev) office for Adala, a legal center for Arab rights in Israel, Israeli police have launched an arrest campaign and detained about 150 people, 40 percent of whom are legally minors. Abu Frie says at least 16 are still in custody.
“No sense of fear”
The State of Israel does not recognize the right of Palestinian Bedouins to land, despite the fact that they have the pre-state acts of Israel and their presence on earth has been recorded for thousands of years.
The student’s father, Jenin, 16, was not home when his daughter was arrested. While at work, his WhatsApp went crazy with images of Jenin arrested by Israeli forces during protests sent to him.
Although he feared what might happen to his daughter in Israeli custody, he was also proud that she was fighting for her homeland.
“I got a work permit and went to check on my daughter, who was arrested for a few hours and then sent home,” he recalled. “I asked her how she was arrested and how she felt while she was arrested, she felt so proud of herself and she had no fear.
He says life in Naqab is difficult because Israelis refuse to allow them to build on their own land or give recognition, despite repeated attempts by Bedouins and international campaigns to recognize the Bedouins’ claim to the land and leave them alone.
Israeli forces rely on legislation passed by the Knesset and legal precedents that constitute the law that allows police to arrest minors as young as 12 years old. Marwan Adalah’s organization acts as a defender of the Palestinian detainees, but faces difficulties, including handling the documents provided to them.
Conditions for children are poor while they are under arrest, with many being infected with COVID-19 and facing physical and psychological violence.
“Even if they are released, they have already endured this arrest and its bitter experience for days, weeks or more, it shatters their morale and keeps them in a very bad psychological state after all they have suffered from the arrest,” he said. lawyer Shahda Ibn Bari, who regularly defends Palestinian minors arrested during protests.
“The children were abused during their arrest and we saw some pictures of these children being strangled,” Marwan said. “We also learned that during the investigation, they are threatening their future, as if they are trying to intimidate children not to demonstrate or inform other children about what happened to them, so they instill fear in the children.
Children held without communication
This tactic is used to ensure that young people like Jenin are too scared to join the protest. Jenin, her father says, went to stand next to her classmates and did not commit any violence while she was there.
“She felt she was doing a great job for her people and their cause because Israeli forces attacked our neighbors and many of her colleagues were at the event, and that encouraged her to go there,” he said.
The police are using the law to their advantage. Although children under the age of 14 must appear in court within 12 hours of being detained, the police have repeatedly appealed to the court to extend the detention, which is usually allowed.
“As an example of what happened that day, a 14-year-old minor was released and his detention was extended six times. Yes, six times the court requested an extension of his detention and the appeal was filed with the Central Court, which returned the file to the magistrate’s court and extended his detention, “Marvan explained.
“Today, during his release, the police asked to suspend the execution of the release decision and when we appealed this decision, the police withdrew and he was released.
Shahda says the lives of lawyers are very difficult to protect minors, as intelligence services will intervene and overturn all court decisions to release a child based on national security, and their alleged crimes will be reclassified as such.
“[The intelligence services] they have the right to prevent a child from meeting a lawyer, to detain him for days, to bring him to court without meeting a lawyer, and they can detain a child without communication with the outside world, ”he said.
“The arrest of children is a war of attrition against the Palestinian child by the courts and police who arrest the child, and we always appeal. We do not always succeed in convincing the court. Sometimes the Israeli court does not accept our appeal. “
Amar’s mother, worried about the psychological damage done to her son, complained that Israeli authorities refused to see Palestinian minors as children.
“The child remains a child, but they are not in the eyes of the brutal occupation. “My heart breaks the most when I see the look in the children’s eyes, when the occupation demolishes their home,” she said.