At the end of the interrogation, 13% of children were asked by the investigators to become collaborators and pass on information to the police. In return they were offered some benefits and favors, including the promise that all charges against them will be dropped.
The Israeli occupation practiced the maximum penalties against Palestinian childhood through the severe beating they get exposed to and the night arrests which move this phase of childhood from “restricted” freedom to the dark prisons where children are tortured in light of an International silence towards the occupation’s crimes.
The occupation forces take advantage of the weakness of the detained Palestinian child and his strong desire to be released and see his mother and brothers in addition to the ignorance of the child in terms of the military provisions and laws, and haggle over his freedom or reducing his sentence or releasing him from the Israeli prisons if he agrees to work with them and the investigator usually requests the child to only transfer simple information.
There is a stage that precedes the threat, beating and screaming like telling the child that his father’s financial situation will improve and he will get a working permit in Israel or even will allow him to leave and work abroad. They try to tempt the child depending on his family’s situation as well as his; all of this, of course, to recruit him and work as an informant.
The recruitment and use of children in armed conflict is prohibited by international law. These practices can take multiple forms ranging from direct participation in combat operations to subsidiary roles such as working as informants. The ban also includes the use of children as human shields. In the context of military occupation of the Palestinian territories, both Israel and the Palestinian armed groups violated these prohibitions. There are three special circumstances in which children are vulnerable to recruitment by the parties of the conflict such as the use of children as human shields by the Israeli army, recruit them as informants by Israeli interrogators and using them in hostilities by the Palestinian armed groups. This indicates that the Israeli army ignores the Supreme Court’s decision or does not comply properly with the decision of the Court since most attempts to recruit children occur during interrogation after being arrested. These attempts take several forms, including the promise of providing them with money and the promise of early release. Because of the sensitive nature of the subject and the children not wanting to talk, it is difficult to ascertain the extent of this problem although there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that this practice is occurring on a large scale.
The Israeli Intelligence still invent malignancy ways and methods to recruit detained Palestinian children as agents, and they do not care for the meanness methods they use to recruit these children in their favor and the fragmentation of the Palestinian social fabric.
The analysis of the files of detained children and their legal cases in the Israeli military courts indicates the presence of cases where children are exploited to do assigned tasks and activities that pose a threat to their lives and are incompatible with their rights and not commensurate with their age and their best interests.
The percentage of children who were offered recruitment does not exceed 13% of the 30 children who were researched.
This can cause the child to be far from the Palestinian cohesion and national spirit that he had as a Palestinian Arab child that should have rights like all other children. Thus, the occupation authorities succeed in the normalization process for children who are the most earth innocent creatures on this earth.
Psychological effects that may arise due to this treatment:
- The feeling of losing hope.
- Recurrent thoughts of death: children start thinking that their lives are not worthy and that they don’t like anything or feel that anything around them is positive and so feel that their lives are worthless which lead to continuous thinking about death. They always think “it is better if I die or if I never lived and had to go through this experience”. We witness this when we see a child who went through this experience, a child who was interrogated and tortured, who was left naked which is a routine experience for all prisoners. This is abnormal to children and usually leaves negative effects that stay with him for the rest of his life. All children like to live in a safe and secured house with their families. All of a sudden, children are taken out of those secured homes and are prevented from seeing their parents and find themselves in between soldiers that continuously harass and assault them using different methods such as dogs, beating with the butts of guns or using their legs and being exposed to situations that pose a threat to their lives.
- Fear and anxiety about being arrested again in the future.
- The fear causes them to distrust anybody around them leading to introversion and aggressive reactions towards others.
- The child always feels being targeted.
- Feeling unsafe and unstable as a result to the harsh events they went through.
- Cases of severe insomnia, fear and nightmares leading to involuntary urination.
- Loss of moral values and turning into a tool that destroys these morals and values which may result in a lot of socially unacceptable behaviors such as distributing drugs and engaging in prostitution…etc.
- Disseminating the culture of defeat by spreading rumors and discouragement of the community’s efforts.
- Identification of the occupier and their aggressive values to be in favor of the people under the occupation.
Manal Awad (From the staff of Watan A Watar):
It is true that I am a child but I am not a doll. You do all you can to rob me of my childhood but you will never rob my will.
The attempts to recruit children to cooperate with the occupation authorities have taken several forms but all have one thing in common which is being contrary to international laws and conventions.
The various pressure tactics used by the occupation authorities to recruit agents are usually illegal. It is illegal and against all international conventions to offer a defendant who was arrested a deal in which all charges against him will be dropped or the sentence will be reduced if he approves to work for a certain security service, and it is the same when citizens are blackmailed and asked to transfer information if they need to get services, permits or licenses from an official department in an attempt to turn them into collaborators.
In a lot of cases, these authorities get the required cooperation after they directly threat the citizens to imprison or deport them or physically abuse them during arrest and interrogation on “security offenses.”
These methods to recruit collaborators are characterized by breaking the fundamental human rights and directly affect the freedom of the individual, his dignity and the right to his body. The occupation’s crime is multiples when their authorities refuse to fulfill the requirements of the citizens living under their military rule on one side, and take advantage of their need to get the basic services on another and use it as a method of recruitment.
With regard to children, the attempts to recruit them and turn them into collaborators either by tempting them or terrifying them through multiple illegal arrests without committing a crime and then place them under tough circumstances only makes the occupation’s crime worse especially that those attempts will have prolonged psychological and physical effects on the children in the future.
Recruitment of Palestinian children is usually done without the knowledge of the parents. It is noteworthy that the law prohibits in any way to make “contracts” or deals with children without the presence and approval of their parents and on condition that the deal would only benefit the children and maintain their interest.