Sat 13-April-2024

Human rights organizations reveal the plight of 94 detained Palestinian children in Megiddo

Tuesday 26-March-2024

RAMALLAH, (PIC)

The Commission of detainees and Ex-detainees Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoner Society have stated that the Israeli prison administration continues to impose punitive measures on child prisoners, which are no less severe than those imposed on adult prisoners since October 7th. They are held in bare cells, isolated, and deprived of family visits, while thousands of prisoners continue to be denied family visits.

During a recent visit to one of the child prisoners in Megiddo Prison, it was revealed that the number of child prisoners in Megiddo has reached 94, including 24 children from Gaza, detained in two rooms or cells.

Current conditions faced by children
The Commission and the Society emphasized in a joint statement on Monday that the administration of Megiddo Prison deliberately brings in child prisoners for visits with their hands and feet bound and blindfolded. Upon arrival at the visitation room, their blindfolds are removed, but their hands are still bound in front of them, while their feet remain shackled. Despite legal demands to remove restraints during visits, the prison administration informed legal teams that these were new procedures.

During a recent visit, a lawyer insisted on the removal of restraints from the child’s hands to allow for easier communication. This procedure was previously applied by the prison administration to prisoners classified as “dangerous.”

Child prisoners: “We only knew the beginning of Ramadan from new prisoners”

The Israeli prison administration intensifies isolation through depriving prisoners of basic means of communication, such as radios and televisions, causing them to lose track of time and even the date. According to a visit with one child, they only knew the beginning of Ramadan from new prisoners arriving in the section. They had no way of knowing the time for iftar (breaking the fast) or suhoor (pre-dawn meal) due to the absence of clocks. They relied on glimpses of sunlight through small windows to determine these times. They also depended on audio communication with children from Gaza (in nearby cells) to know the iftar time, as one of them would recite the call to prayer when it was time.

Child prisoners face a policy of starvation implemented by the prison administration after October 7th. The food quality and quantity are poor, mainly consisting of rice. During Ramadan, child prisoners collect their three meals and divide them for iftar and suhoor according to each cell’s needs, despite being in a growth period and needing adequate nutrition.

Child prisoners: “Our Suhoor in Ramadan is in darkness”

One notable measure implemented by the prison administration post-October 7th is cutting off electricity, providing limited lighting for a few hours in the evening, and turning off lights in the section at 10 PM. According to a child prisoner, “Our suhoor in Ramadan is in darkness.”

Furthermore, the prison administration confiscated all clothes from prisoners and prohibited them from bringing in new clothes. This measure affected child prisoners, as they only have the clothes they wear. Their shoes were also confiscated.

Continued raids on child prisoners’ cells

Physical assault against prisoners remains a prominent policy post-October 7th, targeting both adult and child prisoners. The suppression units continue to raid child prisoners’ cells suddenly, subjecting them to further abuse.

It is worth mentioning that the number of child prisoners in Israeli prisons is around 200, including over 40 children under administrative detention, held in Megiddo and Ofer prisons. The number of arrests among children from the West Bank after October 7th has reached around 500.

In this context, the Commission and the Society reiterated their demands to international human rights organizations to live up to their responsibilities regarding the violations and crimes against prisoners, especially children, which have escalated unprecedentedly after October 7th.

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