NIGHT RAIDS

How do you tell your child that you cannot protect him from that eventual, fateful day when Israeli soldiers, in the middle of the night, will break down your front door, enter his bedroom, forcefully pull him out of bed and, if so inclined, smack his head against the wall?

I wrote those words two years ago. In the intervening years, nothing has changed. Callous Israeli soldiers whose job it is to harass and terrorize Palestinians continue this inhumane policy because they can, with impunity.

According to Gideon Levy, in his most recent Haaretz article The Practice that Embodies Israeli Apartheid, “there’s barely a Palestinian family that isn’t familiar with the practice of these brutal night-time raids. And it happens every night, with or without any apparent reason.”

What would an Israeli do if he woke, startled, in the dead of night to discover search lights illuminating his house, then hear someone breaking down his front door, only to discover armed, masked soldiers, a dozen or more, rushing in, their rifles aimed at him and his terrified family, binding his family members with plastic handcuffs, then hitting and intimidating them.

Fortunately for them, it would never happen. Israelis do not receive this kind of treatment. They are not harassed, abducted and disappeared from their homes during the middle of the night, and their children do not grow up with fear, trauma and scars from the terror of these unannounced night visits. This practice is reserved for Palestinians and it happens only in the West Bank and East Jerusalem where Israel practices apartheid.

Israel abhors the use of the word apartheid. Instead, it calls its policy toward Palestinians suppression of resistance.

Palestinians call it a calculated and callous attempt to breach the familial bond of security and trust between child and parent. Israel’s policy is meant to dispel the idea that a parent can protect his or her child, that a home is sacred and safe, and that a child can safely sleep in his bed at night without fear of arrest.

According to Israeli law, any Israeli, regardless of age or crime, is tried in a civilian court of law. As I recount in Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with Both Sides, any Palestinian arrested, whether child or adult, in either East Jerusalem or the West Bank, is tried in a military court with one caveat. A child must be at least fourteen years old.

Currently, if a child under fourteen is arrested, they are held in detention, without legal counsel, without parental visitation rights, tortured and often times put in solitary confinement until they reach the age of fourteen. At any one time, there are between three hundred and five hundred children in Israeli prisons. There are allegations of brute force, restraining them in cruel ways, withholding food and water, violent and verbal aggression during interrogation, and forced confessions.

According to the Defense for Children International, Israeli courts fail to respect established rules for detaining and trying children in court. And although Israel is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, it ignores that agreement’s restrictions when dealing with Palestinian children.

And why wouldn’t they when they are allowed, by their Washington supporters, to do as they wish with impunity

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