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Israeli forces kidnap 3 Tarqumia youths

9 July 2009

In the early morning of July 8th, Israeli soldiers raided three houses in the city of Tarqumia to arrest three boys. All three are currently in their last year of school. It is very likely that the Israeli army will accuse them of having thrown stones, used Molotov cocktails and built so called weapons (which means small plastic tubes being able to shoot smallest pieces of anything up to three meters). Till now only one of them, 16 years old Raef, had his first day of trial. Because of that and because there hasn’t been any contact neither from a lawyer nor from the families with the other two boys their accusations are not confirmed, yet.

When the army came to arrest them, they smashed the door of Raef family’s house with a big stone coming from a construction site after they had surrounded the house and “secured” the area. At that time only Raef’s father and 15 years old brother, Amir, were in the house. Amir had to come out and sit on the ground surrounded by ten soldiers aiming their guns at him. Twenty more soldiers entered the house without explanation and forced Raef’s father to support their search. After two hours they told him that they were searching for Raef, took the father’s cell phone number and gave him an order which advised him to come the next day at 11:30 with Raef to the military base of Eziom.

The next day Raef came back to Tarqumia with his mother after having visited her family. Because they didn’t expect him to be imprisoned his father and Raef went to Eziom awaiting any kind of interrogation connected to leave the place afterwards. The father was prohibited to follow his son into the camp and so he had to wait for about three hours before a soldier came back give give him his ID. He was then told to leave without any further information about the wherabouts of his son.

After two days Raef called his family in order to organize a lawyer for himself. Any other content of the conversation was ended by a soldier immediately. The family and lawyer only found out by chance at the military court on the July 15th that Raef accepted the accusation of having thrown stones, but refused the other two. Depending on what exactly they will accuse Raef, he might face three to five months of jail time. What will happen to the other two boys, Alaa and Yazan, is uncertain. Raef’s family is afraid that the soldiers might try to torture a confession from him about the other two charges. His next court case will be on the 21st of July.

Likely all three of them won’t be able to finish their last year of school in time, a tactic often used to punish young boys.