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Terrorized for Stoning Israeli Troops
Monday, March 15, 2010 08:16:06 PM, Agencies
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Gaza City: Al-Hasan Muhtaseb, 13, and his brother Amir,10, were returning from their aunt’s house in the West Bank town of Al-Khalil (Hebron) when they were stopped by Israeli occupation force on 27 February.
"They took my brother and I don't know where they took him," Hasan told.
"I was sent inside the station and I never saw him after that."
The Israelis suspected the two boys were involved in throwing stones at their troops, a charge that usually brings several months in jail but carries a maximum penalty of 20 years' jail.
The two brothers were held separately.
Israeli soldiers covered Amir's eyes by a hat and put him in a room where there was a dog that he heard panting. He released him later the same night.
"He was in a very, very bad psychological state," his father, Fadel, 45, told the British newspaper.
"He had wet himself. He was terrified."
Al-Hasan, 13, had a worse experience.
He was blindfolded and taken to Ofer military prison.
"There were no other children," he recalls. "I was afraid."
The teenager was interrogated without a lawyer late into the night, forced to confess to throwing stones, made to sign a confession in Hebrew that he couldn't read and jailed with adults.
Three days later, he appeared before a military court, which released him on a 2,000 shekels ($350) bail.
"(But) my father told them he couldn't pay this much money," said the young boy, looking at his tearful father.
Al-Hasan was only released eight days later, after considerable legal effort by several human rights groups.
The two Palestinian kids are now incontinent and Amir has been hospitalised.
"He wakes up in the middle of the night screaming," said Fadel, his weeping father.
"We try to comfort him, but he's getting worse and worse."
For Al-Hasan, the eldest of the two boys, the nightmare is far from over.
Because of the confession he signed, Al-Hasan still faces a possible indictment for throwing stones.
According to Defense for Children International (DCI), 343 Palestinian children were being held in Israeli prisons as of the end of February.
In a report last year, the DCI said abuse and torture of these children are "widespread, systematic and institutionalized."
The Israeli group B'Tselem says Israeli security forces "severely violated" the rights of children, aged between 12 and 15, who had been taken into custody in recent months.
Fadel, the father, is terrified that his kid would meet the same fate.
"Even if he were throwing stones, he is only 13," he cries.
"They treated him like a terrorist. They claim they are democratic and human, but they are not."
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