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Palestinian children continue to be imprisoned

9th March 2014| International Solidarity Movement, Team Khalil| Hebron, Occupied Palestine

On Tuesday 4th March, 14-year-old Wassem Rajabi from the Jabal Johar area of Hebron (al-Khalil), was detained and driven away by Israeli soldiers on his way back from school. This Thursday, after nine days in prison, his family will go to the police station to find out his fate. Recently, more than 50 children from the area have been arrested and imprisoned. In the last week alone, between 15-20 children were arrested, all under the age of 18.

Wassem Rajabi is from a family with few resources. His father died eight years ago in a work-place accident inside the 1948 areas, and he now lives with his mother, an older brother and two younger sisters. When Wassen did not come home from school last Tuesday, his family discovered he was taken by the Israeli military, imprisoned and transferred to Ramallah. He was charged with throwing stones at Israeli forces. His family have stated that he was at home at the time the incident were supposed to have occurred. As Wassem is only 14-years-old, he is too young to be imprisoned according to the United Nation’s declaration of human rights. However, Israeli forces detain and prolong detentions for children on a regular basis.

Wassem’s family has been told that he will spend 10 days in prison and will have to pay 2000 shekel, an amount impossible to raise by the family. If they do not pay this money, Wassem he could be facing as much as six months in prison. This coming Thursday the court will give their decision.

The Jabal Johar area is in the southern part of Hebron, very close to several illegal settlements. The children of the area need to pass one or more checkpoints to travel to their school, and are often subject to attacks from tear gas canisters, stun grenades and other forms of harassment by the Israeli army. International groups have reports of children as young as seven-years-old being detained by the Israeli military, and each week children as young as four have to pass through clouds of tear gas to reach their classes.