[In a letter we have received from the Committee for the Defence of Children under Occupation, the aims of the Committee are described as follows]
- Provides legal aid to children.
- Helps in locating children who are arrested and held in one of the many prisons and detention centres, without the authorities bothering to notify their families.
- Maintains contact with the families of detained children.
- Provides help to injured children.
- Disseminates information about the plight of children under occupation.
[In a leaflet enclosed with the letter, the following four cases are described]
A general strike is in force throughout the occupied territories. Three jeeps enter a section of the Jenin refugee camp, and park in a road crowded with children, the oldest of whom is aged 11. The soldiers, in high spirit, gesticulate and call out to the children “te’lu, ta’lu!” (come, come). The kids, hold stones, draw nearer the soldiers. A shot is heard and a child is hit; then another. Four shots, four injured children.
Across the road, the women came out. Muhammad’s mother: “We saw the soldier shooting and each time a child was hit the soldiers clapped their hands and the sniper joined the others and made them laugh by demonstrating, with his own body, how the child had fallen. Behind the soldiers there was a house being built. The sniper hid near the window of the ground floor. The children did not see him.”
Muhammad’s mother carries her wounded son in her arms. She has just brought him back from medical treatment for the gaping wound in his thigh. Muhammad is six years old.
The soldiers left the place and moved to another corner in the same section of the camp. A group of youths threw stones. The little ones joined them at the street corner after their injured mates had been taken to the first-aid station.
Muhammad’s mother and other mothers who went out of their houses observed a soldier hiding; they ran to warn the children not to be tempted by the soldiers, who kept calling “ta’lu, ta’lu!” The children drew nearer, some spreading their arms and shouting to the soldiers “shoot us if you are such heroes!”.
The six-year-old Muhammad was there, holding a sling. A soldier sprinted trying to catch him. Then a shot was fired by the sniper hiding around the corner. Accurate marksmanship. Muhammad was hit in the thigh. “The soldier shot me with a plastic bullet” ‒ Muhammad raises his robe, displaying his bandaged and ailing leg. “I bled a lot and cried.”
A group of children and youth congregate near the entrance to the Jenin refugee camp. A long row of jeeps drives into the camp. “We threw stones; I bent down, turning my back to the soldiers. The distance between us was about 40 metres. A bullet penetrated my back and stopped next to the spine.”
He was operated upon in Al-Ittihad Hospital, in Nablus. The bullet is lodged in his body.
“When I was injured the soldiers were running towards me but our boys evacuated me quickly so that the soldiers would not arrest me and take me to a hospital in Jenin, because there you have to pay 60 Dinar [about $90] in advance, and then you also get detained.” The following day, the day of the general strike, 26 September, 15 children and youth were injured in the Jenin camp.
Nine-year-old Aiman is in the yard of his home. On the road outside, stones are being thrown at the ‘Aziza (this is what the camp people call a commando-car) which has arrived, full of soldiers, and parked next to the fence of the house.
“Four soldiers leaped over the fence and started dragging me out,” Ayman recounts.
“I heard shouts, I came out of the house and saw Ayman in the soldiers’ hands. I ran after the soldiers and held my hands out, pleading with them to give me my son back,” says his mother, spreading her arms to demonstrate how she pleaded. “Ayman was pleading and crying out to me:
‘Mummy, come with me … I’m frightened’.”
In the corner of her eye she squeezes a tear, which she is trying to stop with her decisive voice: “He was already inside the ‘Aziza, which drove away.”
… Soldiers came to the offices of UNRWA [UN Relief and Works Agency], where Ayman’s father works, and took him to the Military Government compound. “They took away my ID card, and an officer with three stripes, while little Ayman was standing next to him, informed me that I must pay a fine of 200 shekel [about $125] and then I would have both Ayman and the ID card back.”
The father’s voice is charged with anger. He is an elderly man, who has recently had an operation and his hip is still bandaged. He provides for a family of eleven. His pleas to the officer for a reduction in the fine were met with the threat that unless he pays he would be arrested and taken to Far’ah Jail. “I paid 200 shekels and got back my son and the ID card.”
Nine-year-old Amjad, Ayman’s twin brother, is playing with two friends next to his home. An Israeli patrol drives near. The children flee and Amjad runs home. The soldiers pursue him. “They caught me at the door and were pulling me out and Mummy was pulling me in.”
The mother says, “I went to the soldier, stroked his face and said, ‘Please, let me have my son back, he is little.’ They said, ‘Scram, or we’ll shoot you,’ and they pointed their weapons at me. Amjad disappeared into the ‘Aziza, which drove away.”
She went out to enquire about her son. At the street corner there were about ten soldiers. “I approached them to ask where my son is and explain that he is little. They pointed their weapons at me and shouted at me to scram.”
The mother, with other relatives went to the Military Government compound to ask for Amjad’s release. The officer demanded to see Amjad’s father, but the latter was not at home. A group of soldiers was sent to fetch him, but at home they only found the younger girls. They left a note saying that 1,000 shekels [about $625] must be paid, and only then would Amjad be released and allowed to go back home.
Until 8PM Amjad was not back. From the field next to the compound, the cries of a frightened child were heard. It was nine-year-old Amjad, shivering, frightened and aching from the blows that he received. “They hit me both with clubs and with a helmet.”
Please write to a child prisoner, in one of the prisons, detention centres or military compounds.
Here is a partial list:
- Mahmud Majed Abu-al-Heja, aged 14
- ‘lyad ‘Azmi Bias, aged 15
- Munir Fathi Jab’i, aged 12
- Ahmad Mustafa Aghbariya, aged 15
- Aysar Salah Abu-Srur, aged 13
- Ahmad Aysar Laymuni, aged 14
- Rashed Rabbah Faza’, aged 14
- Mansur Muhammad Habayba, aged 14
Write c/o the Committee in Defence of Children under Occupation, Haifa, Israel.
Write to the Committee for further Information.