Israel-Palestine: Army detains 12-year-old Palestinian child after house raid

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Family say they are shocked by arrest of Karim Ghawanmeh, a young boy who still sleeps with his toys
Karim Ghawanmeh was arrested without charge by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah (Social media)
By Fayha Shalash in Ramallah, occupied Palestine

Israeli troops detained a 12-year-old Palestinian child after storming his family home in a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday.

The boy, Karim Ghawanmeh, vomited out of fear when he realised the army wanted to arrest him, his brother Othman told Middle East Eye.

Othman said Israeli forces blew open the family’s old house in the Jalazone refugee camp, north of Ramallah, at dawn.

The family had recently moved out of the house, so the soldiers phoned Karim’s father when they didn’t find anyone there.

An officer told him that he had to immediately hand over his son to the army.

“We were in great shock. My mother started crying and screaming,” Othman told MEE.

“When we woke Karim up, he immediately started vomiting out of fear,” he added.

Karim’s father accompanied the child to the detention centre in the Beit El settlement, north of Ramallah, hoping to bring him back with him after a brief interrogation.

‘He still sleeps next to his toys. We are still in great shock’

– Othman Ghawanmeh, brother of child prisoner 

But the soldiers held the boy without charge and forced the father to return home without him.

“He is a young child, what could he be charged with?” Othman said.

“He still sleeps next to his toys. We are still in great shock.”

The family says the reason for the detention was not clarified by the army.

Four of Karim’s brothers are already in Israeli detention. Three were detained in June: Moatasem, 25; Muhammad, 23; and Mustafa, 24. The fourth, Omar, 17, was detained after the 7 October war began.

All four are being held in administrative detention, a notorious Israeli policy under which Palestinians are imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial, sometimes for years.

Child prisoners beaten

Karim’s detention comes as Israeli forces have been conducting an unprecedented arrest campaign across the occupied West Bank since 7 October.

More than 3,300 have been arrested in 50 days, including dozens of children. Israel was holding 4,700 Palestinian prisoners before the war erupted.

Though 180 Palestinians have been freed in a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas over the last five days, the army has arrested nearly 200 others in the same period.

Recently released Palestinians have described details of torture and abuse they have faced by Israeli guards in the past six weeks, which has so far led to the death of six prisoners and the wounding of many more.

‘I saw… cruel scenes that will never leave my mind’

– Muhammad Nazzal, freed Palestinian child 

Muhammad Nazzal, 17, told Middle East Eye that he was severely beaten a few days before his release earlier this week.

Two of the child’s fingers were broken in the assault last week.

He only received first aid for the injury from Red Cross medics upon his release.

The boy spent his first night of freedom screaming in pain, as doctors at the Ramallah hospital had to re-calibrate his fingers due to the fractures healing incorrectly from medical negligence.

He needs two surgeries to implant platinum in his fingers, doctors say.

“One time they brought police dogs that bit my leg, and I was never given medical care,” Nazzal told MEE.

 “Prisoners die a thousand times every day. I saw a prisoner whose face was covered in blood from severe beatings, and an elderly prisoner crying from torture… cruel scenes that will never leave my mind.”

Muhammad Nazzal, 17, pictured in hospital with a case in his hand for broken fingers and bruises on his back (Provided)
Muhammad Nazzal, 17, pictured in hospital with broken fingers and bruises on his back (Provided)

The teenager was arrested in late August from his family home in Qabatiya, south of Jenin, after it was raided by Israeli troops.

“Three soldiers attacked me, tied me up and blindfolded me. Then they beat me in front of my family,” he recalled.

He was beaten on the way to Megiddo prison, he said. He was held in administrative detention.

Following the recent increased crackdowns, he was transferred to Naqab prison, where conditions were “much worse”.

‘Broken bones, hands and heads’

Ramzi Abbasi, a prominent Palestinian social media activist from Jerusalem, was released on Wednesday from Naqab prison.

He described chilling conditions inside the prisons.

“We have not seen sunlight for 60 days. We have had 60 days of beatings, in the morning, afternoon and evening,” he told reporters.

“The Naqab prison has been turned into a cemetery. Many of the prisoners have broken bones, some have broken hands or heads.”

He accused guards of urinating on the Quran, sexually assaulting prisoners, and forcing them to sleep shirtless without covers in the cold.

“Mentally and physically we are in a terrible state. This morning, I found I was being released and I did not believe it, I still don’t,” Abbasi said.

He added that lawyers and the Red Cross must push to access the prisons to inspect the conditions for themselves.

‘They are sexually assaulting prisoners, including rape, verbally abusing them, urinating on the Quran and depriving [them] of food’

– Ramzi Abbasi, former Palestinian prisoner 

The Palestinian prisoner movement, which includes prisoners currently detained, released a statement on Wednesday urging international intervention to stop the abuses.

“We call on the Qatari and Egyptian mediators, the Red Cross, United Nations, and the free world to pressure the occupation to stop its retaliatory attack and systematic crimes against us inside the prisons,” the statement read.

It claimed guards told prisoners they had been “instructed to kill” anyone who protested the punitive measures against them.

Omar al-Atshan, one of the recently freed Palestinian teens, told Al Jazeera he saw one prisoner, named Thaer Abu Assab, beaten to death after he asked guards if a truce in Gaza had been agreed.

“We are not asking you to free us. We know the Palestinian resistance [groups] will,” the prisoners said in the statement.

“We merely ask you to stand up for your morals, humanitarian and international responsibilities by restraining the hand of the occupier from committing crimes against us,” they added.

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Disclaimer: Israel-Palestine: Army detains 12-year-old Palestinian child after house raid - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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