“The Stone Throwers”: Politics of Administrative Detention and Child Incarceration Practices in Palestine

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In the middle of a winter night in Hebron, a city in the West Bank often described as the embodiment of Israel’s military occupation of Palestine due to a concentration of Israeli settlements in the city (Gessen 2019), Israeli soldiers forcefully enter the home of a Palestinian family in the Salaymah village and arrests sixteen year old Hamed, the oldest of four children. Upon arrest, Hamed is bound, blindfolded, and physically assaulted by Israeli forces. Without the provision of any explanation or warrant for his arrest, he is subsequently transferred to a military compound in order to be interrogated about his participation in stone throwing – a “security offence” under Israeli military law. After denying these allegations, Hamed is detained for 60 hours after which an “administrative detention” order is issued. 

Administrative detention is a procedure that entails arbitrary and indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial. While it is possible for Israeli citizens and foreign nationals to be subject to such a procedure, it is almost exclusively used to detain Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Addameer 2018: 32). According to Addameer, a prisoner support and human rights association, almost 20% of the Palestinian population have been arrested since the beginning of Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian territories with a steady increase of the employment of adminstrative detention (Addameer 2017).  In 2016, 750 administrative detainees were identified to be held in Israeli military prisons (Addameer 2016), of which 13 were children, some as young as 12 (DCIP 2020). Children held in administrative detention lack the legal means of challenging the incarceration and its alleged justification. Moreover, Defence For Children International-Palestine (2019) has reported that incarcerated children in Israeli military prisons are systematically abused and denied basic rights during their imprisonment.  

Over the phone, Hamed (not his real name), now 20 years old, recounts the harrowing experience of ultimately spending nearly 11 months in military prison without being formally charged with a crime. From the moment of his arrest to his release, he was subject to verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, strip searches, physical and psychological violence. He confesses that he still experiences nightmares and difficulties sleeping as a result. According to a study conducted by  Abram et al. (2004), children and youth who experience juvenile detention are extremely likely to suffer from long-term consequences related to mental health, including trauma and PTSD. As Hamed explains, for most Palestinians, the occupation and its means of perpetuation such as practices like child incarceration, there is a sense of life as constant psychological trauma. Random night raids in Palestnian homes conducted by Israeli occupation forces instill fear and anxiety, especially among children and young adults, who constitute the majority of stone throwers and participants in other kinds of political resistance (Bahdi 2014). 

According to Condry (2018: 29), families of which one or several members have a history of incarceration also demonstrate a pattern of cumulative social and economic disadvantage. This is reflected in the impact on mental health of the prisoner and their family, but also in the interruption of education or income. Imprisonment can compound and magnify pre-existing inequalities in wealth, education, employment and opportunity both within Palestinian society as well as between Palestinians and Israelis. On a societal level, the practices of arbitrary detention and child imprisonment in the West Bank leaves Palestinians at an obvious disadvantage. A report conducted by Addameer in 2016 shows that mass-imprisonment of Palestinians bears a substantial opportunity cost on the labour force of Palestinian society. By examining the GDP of Palestine in 2011 in relation to the number of employed workers that year, Addameer estimated that the approximately 4000 prisoners that would have been employed in the Palestinian labour market would have contributed around $44 million US dollars (Addameer 2016: 61). 

Stone-throwing is characterized as a means of protest against the occupation and oppression of Palestinians, but it is also a practice carried out by Israeli settlers. However, the discrepancy between the consequences for Palestinian and Israeli stone throwers is striking. While Palestinian children and adults can face up to 20 year prison sentences regardless of whether or not any harm or injury is induced, Israelis are typically punished with a fine or a public service requirement (Shuttleworth 2014). It is in this sense evident that Palestinians, by definition, serve as an inherent threat to Israel’s national security, regardless of age or actions. By contrast, Israeli occupation forces have been documented to facilitate violence toward Palestinans by refraining from intervening in such conflict (B’Tselem 2017). In fact, Israeli occupation forces operate with a mandate to protect Israeli settlers from violence, which in turn, enables settlements in the West Bank to continue to exist and expand (B’Tselem 2017).

In this sense, the unequal application of law between Israelis and Palestinians serves as a means to enable the Israeli state to expand its annexation of the West Bank. According to BADIL (2017), the aim of the current administration in Israel is to create a so-called “coercive environment”, by which Palestinians’ existence in their homeland becomes so unbeareable that they are forced to abandon it. This notion is shared by many scholars concerned with this issue, including Noam Chomsky (2015) and Ilan Pappé (2006), who has famously depicted the “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” in several of his publications. Darweish and Rigby (2015) suggest that this trajectory serves to provoke Palestinians to further their protest, which, in turn, puts many at greater risk of prosecution and imprisonment. Based on this reasoning, the Israeli government can be described as deliberately perpetuating a state of inequality between Israelis and Palestinians in order to expand its power and territorial gains. 

Hence, despite obvious ethical implications of administrative detention and child incarceration, these practices also have very practical implications on factors for societal development such as mental health and economic prosperity. In addition, the economy of the Israeli prison system, with administrative detention practices at its core, is strategically advantageous as a segment of Israel’s colonial project in its impact on Palestinian priosners like Hamed, as well as Palestinian society at large. 

Apply for the FFIPP Summer Program 2020!

Our annual Summer Program is for every student interested in getting a deeper understanding of the situation in Palestine and Israel, with a focus on human rights. The program consists of an intensive orientation week, followed by a four-week internship with one of our partner organisations in the West Bank or Israel. After the Summer Program, you will have access to a global academic network and are expected to stay committed to organising educational events in the Netherlands for a year. Applications for the Summer Program are open till 14 February 2020.

More information can be found on ffippeu.com/internship.

Please send your application form to ffipp.nl@gmail.com. Make sure to read the conditions of participation before submitting your application!

 

FFIPP Europe Speaking Tour – One state solution in Palestine/Israel: It’s time ?

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FFIPP EUROPE’S SPEAKING TOUR
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FFIPP Europe is an educational network for human rights in Israel/Palestine. It is a non-profit, non-governmental international organization, comprised of international students and faculties, working in solidarity for a complete end of occupation and just peace in the region.

The network is expanded throughout the world including chapters in Brazil, Canada, USA and Europe, including France (Bordeaux, Grenoble and Paris), Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK and Italy.
One of FFIPP’s main objectives, is to raise awareness locally through our various international chapters based on student experiences on the ground. This is why, this year, FFIPP Europe is organising a Speaking Tour!

 

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SPEAKERS
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Jeff Halper – author, lecturer, political activist and co-founder of The People Yes! Network and the former Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions

Rana Madi – United Nations Legal Advocacy Representative of Badil, the Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights

During the speaking tour, Jeff and Rania will be hosted by four local FFIPP Europe chapters: Grenoble, Bordeaux, Paris and Amsterdam. They will be discussing the subject: “One state solution in Palestine/Israel : It’s time”.

The speakers will give a historical description and discuss the evolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as the current situation on the ground. They will also discuss the one state solution” and argue for why this is the only feasible outcome of 71 years of conflict and occupation.

The Speaking Tour will start in Bordeaux, on May 22, continue in Grenoble on May 23, and Paris on May 24 and finally conclude in Amsterdam on May 26. We hope to see you there!

AMSTERDAM, Sunday May 26th, 2PM at the Jungle Theatre (Tweede van Swindenstraat 26, 1093 VS Amsterdam).

Live Stream Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day

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Location: AUC, Merian area, third floor

Since 2005, the Israeli-Palestinian NGOs Combatants for Peace and the Parents Forum have been organizing a joint, inclusive ceremony for Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day in Tel Aviv. The goal of the event is to challenge the consensual narrative and offer an alternative that denounces war and contests the legitimacy of violence. In the last few years, the organizers have been encouraging screenings and satellite events in cities throughout the world. This 7th of May, gate48 in cooperation with AUC (Amsterdam University College) and FFIPP-NL (Educational Network for Human Rights in Israel/Palestine) will live-stream the ceremony in Amsterdam. We invite you to join us for the screening of this unique event and for a conversation about inclusion and non-violent resistance in present day Israel/Palestine.

The event will be moderated by Erella Grassiani and Hilla Dayan, co-founders of gate48.

BACKGROUND:

On the 7th of May, Israel will celebrate Yom Hazikaron, its official Memorial Day. It is an incredibly significant day on which Israel honors its citizens who lost their lives in battle as well as victims of political violence. It is a solemn, national holiday and considered one of the most important days for Israelis. Official commemoration services are held in the presence of Israel’s political and military leadership and private memorial gatherings take place in cemeteries where soldiers are buried. These events have become a powerful tool for shaping a collective narrative of sacrifice – honoring the fallen for the “greater good” of the country. These ceremonies often justify the political status quo and provide a platform for patriotic nationalism and a one-sided narrative. The traditional commemorations ignore the fact that violence has taken the lives of thousands of both Israelis and Palestinians over the years.

The Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony, by way of music, personal testimonies and speeches, commemorates the victims of the conflict on both sides and sends a clear call for action towards ending the conflict in a just and peaceful way. This unique event has become a tradition and is commemorated with Israelis and Palestinians together. The audience has grown and includes many segments of Israeli society who are willing to think about a new way for ending the perpetual conflict. This encounter with the other side, on a day so painful, opens a window that envisions a cessation of the fighting and a better future. The ceremony directs the energy and hope of the audience towards political activism.

ORGANIZERS:

Combatants for Peace is an egalitarian Israeli and Palestinian organization of ex-combatants, who are determined to struggle for peace and for a viable independent Palestinian state. Our members have chosen to take the path of nonviolence, as the only sensible way out of the conflict. The Ceremony is its flagship project.

The Parents Circle – Families Forum is a joint Israeli and Palestinian organization made up of more than 600 bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families all of whom have lost a loved one to the conflict and have chosen a path of reconciliation rather than revenge. The Parents Circle operates educational and public awareness activities among Israelis and Palestinians using the power of their narratives to promote reconciliation.

Film Screening: The Occupation of the American Mind

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The widespread controversy surrounding US congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s criticism of the influence of the lobby-group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on policy-makers in the United States has sparked a big debate in the U.S.

In light of these events, FFIPP Netherlands is hosting a screening of the film “The Occupation of the American Mind” in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Narrated by Roger Waters and featuring leading observers of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the film explores how the Israeli government, the US government, and the pro-Israel lobby have joined forces, often with very different motives and interests, to shape American media coverage of the conflict in Israel’s favor.

After the film, we invite attendees to engage in discussions about the film and the controversy surrounding it.

Date: Wednesday, April 17th

Time: 19.00 (Film duration: 1h 25 min)

Location: Cinema of the Dam’d (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Tickets : €5

Free for students !