Random Arrests and Detentions - Introduction

People who are occupied are a protected people under international humanitarian law. As such, the occupier must provide for everything from safety and security to education and access to adequate medical care. Yet Israel continuously flaunts these laws and has deprived Palestinians of their basic human rights for decades as a way to continue its policy of ethnically cleansing or transferring Palestinians from Palestine.

One way Israel tries to achieve this is by harassing Palestinians – even young children – with random arrests and detentions and by issuing Military Orders that carry illogical and disproportionate penalties.

Since 1967 – when Israel used force to grab and occupy what was left of the West Bank and Gaza – it has issued more than 2,500 Military Orders, which have in effect produced a segregated judicial system and an apartheid system, according to the Swiss-based Defence for Children International (DCI). These orders “control and regulate daily life of Palestinians … apply only to Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, not to the illegal Israeli settlers, who are living in illegal colonial settlements and outposts,” says DCI.

The Military Orders imposed by Israel carry disproportionate punishments for various actions. For instance, people who congregate in groups of 10 or more can receive 10 years in prison. Likewise, publishing political material or displaying a Palestinian flag can bring a 10-year sentence. Throwing stones can net a child 20 years behind bars.
These Military Orders also have jurisdiction over cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which are supposed to be under full Palestinian control.

Military Order 378 created the military courts that operate in Palestine. It also controls the rights of detained persons and sets the definition of security offenses as well. Military Order 132, first introduced in the First Intifada in the late 1980s, allows for the arrest and imprisonment of children as young as 12 years old, according to DCI.

Increasingly, since the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000, Palestinian youths have been subjected to arrests, administrative detentions and even death at the hands of Israeli soldiers. In fact, about 700 Palestinian children are arrested and prosecuted through the Israeli military system every year. Between Jan. 1, 2004 and June 30, 2009, at least 3,850 Palestinian children had been detained.

Children as young as 12 can be detained for six months without being charged. However, under Israeli military law, these uncharged detentions can be extended indefinitely. Children often are detained in prisons within Israel – in direct violation of international law that prohibits removing people from their homeland, which is occupied, to the occupier’s territory. Being imprisoned in Israel makes it impossible for these children to receive family visits because their families are not allowed to travel there.

“Most children detained in Israeli jails have been subjected to at least one form of torture during or following their arrest,” says the DCI. The forms of torture used against children include: Beating, sleep deprivation, isolation, position abuse, verbal abuse, and the tying of hands and blindfolding.

~ American Muslims for Palestine, 2012