At approximately 3:30pm on Thursday, 24 September 2015, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested two Palestinian minors as they crossed the border fence between Gaza and Israel. The two minors were identified as Hani Abdel Malik Al Sharatha, 17, and Yousef Jom'a Al Tarabin, 16; both are residents of Sha'sha'a neighborhood, east of Jabalia refugee camp. One of them was exposed to abuse and the second is still in Israeli custody.
Al Mezan interviewed the father of Hani Al Sharatha. He stated that Israeli police called him around midnight the same day and informed him that his son would be taken to court the next day, 25 September 2015. He also informed him that the other minor Yousef Al Tarabin, was also detained with his son.
Yousef Al Tarabin was released in the evening of Thursday, 24 September 2015. Al Mezan interviewed him and his parents and he provided a statement in which he informed Al Mezan that he and Hani Al Sharatha went to the border fence area because they wanted to smuggle into Israel to find work. After they crossed the border fence, an Israeli force in military vehicles appeared and surrounded them. A soldier ordered them to remove all of their clothes. A soldier stepped out of a vehicle with a dog that had a muzzle on. When the soldier and the dog came closer to the two children, they raised their hands in the air. The soldier removed the muzzle and let the dog attack them. The dog attacked Yousef and bit him in his right arm. He screamed and asked for help, but the soldiers laughed loudly. When he tried to release himself from the dog, the dog bit his left hand. After a couple of minutes of wrestling with the dog, a soldier approached them and pulled the dog away.
Soldiers instructed Yousef to put his clothes on and Hani helped him. They were both blindfolded with green cloth and put in a military vehicle, which drove for some time. The vehicle stopped and Yousef was moved to another vehicle that took him to an Israeli military installation, where the blindfold was removed and he was checked by a doctor. He received first aid and was given medication by an injection in his hand.
Yousef was then made to sign a document in Hebrew, which he cannot read, and then was held in a room for about four hours without being offered food or water. He stated that a soldier beat him on his shanks before he was blindfolded and taken in a vehicle that drove for about two hours. At around 11:00pm on the same day, 24 September 2015, he was released at Erez crossing. When he reached the Palestinian side of the crossing, he was taken to Kamal Udwan Hospital in the town of Beit Lahiya. Doctors informed him that he had inflammation because of the dog bites. He was released from the hospital the next day, and was informed that his friend, Hani, was still detained.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns the serious abuse of the two Palestinian minors in IOF detention. Al Mezan asserts that Israel, the Occupying Power, bears the responsibility for the drastic humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip, which has been under a strict Israeli closure/blockade for over eight years now. The deterioration of the economy in Gaza has increased the levels of poverty and unemployment, and has prompted increasing numbers of young people in Gaza to take serious risks to find jobs elsewhere.
Al Mezan also condemns the increasing arrests and abuse of dozens of young men from Gaza who attempt to cross the border in search of jobs in Israel. The ill-treatment of the two minors during their arrest and detention amounts to torture and degrading treatment contrary to the absolute prohibition on such treatment in international law.
Al Mezan calls on the international community to insist that Israel stops the systematic use of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinians in its custody and to bring the closure/blockade to an end. The persisting inaction on the part of the international community has encouraged the closure/blockade and other serious violations of international law to continue for many years, and must stop.