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Former Israeli soldiers disclose routine mistreatment of Palestinian children

dimanche 26 août 2012, par La Rédaction

More than 30 former Israeli soldiers have disclosed their experiences of the treatment of Palestinian children during military operations and arrests, pointing to a pattern of abuse.

A booklet of testimonies, published by Breaking the Silence, an organisation of former Israeli soldiers dedicated to publicising the day-to-day actions of the army in the occupied territories, contains descriptions of beatings, intimidation, humiliation, verbal abuse, night-time arrests and injury. Most of the children are suspected of stone-throwing.

The witness statements were gathered to show the "common reality" of acts of violence by soldiers towards Palestinians, including children, in the West Bank, said Yehuda Shaul of Breaking the Silence. "Sadly enough this is the moral consequence of prolonged occupation of the Palestinian people," he said.

One of the ex-soldiers describes serving in Hebron in 2010 : "You never know their names, you never talk with them, they always cry, shit in their pants … There are those annoying moments when you’re on an arrest mission, and there’s no room in the police station, so you just take the kid back with you, blindfold him, put him in a room and wait for the police to come and pick him up in the morning. He sits there like a dog …"

Children frequently soiled themselves, according to the testimonies. "I remember hearing him shitting his pants … I also remember some other time when someone pissed in his pants. I just became so indifferent to it, I couldn’t care less. I heard him do it, I witnessed his embarrassment. I also smelled it. But I didn’t care," said another.

Another soldier describes an incident in Qalqiliya in 2007 in which a boy was arrested for throwing stones. "At the end of the day, something has to make these kids stop throwing stones on the road because they can kill," he said.

"That specific kid who actually lay there on the ground, begging for his life, was actually nine years old. I think of our kids, nine years old, and a kid handling this kind of situation, I mean, a kid has to beg for his life ? A loaded gun is pointed at him and he has to plead for mercy ? This is something that scars him for life. But I think if we hadn’t entered the village at that point, then stones would be thrown the next day and perhaps the next time someone would be wounded or killed as a result."

Some of the statements illustrate the disjunction between the Israeli military and Palestinians. One soldier said : "You put up a checkpoint out of boredom, sit there for a few hours and then continue on. Once I saw kids passing, and one of the guys, a reservist who spoke Arabic, wanted to ask them what they study. He didn’t mean it in any bad way. Then I saw how the kid nearly peed his pants as the guy tried to kid with him, how the two worlds are simply disconnected. The guy was kidding and the kid was scared to death."

Most of the soldiers have given testimonies anonymously. One, who spoke to the Guardian, said that he had been given no guidance during his training for military service on how to deal with minors. He said children were sometimes arrested and interrogated, not because they were suspected of an offence, but to try to elicit information about older family members or neighbours.

He had given a witness statement to Breaking the Silence because : "I thought that people who don’t see this on an everyday basis should know what’s going on." He said many Israelis were unwilling to acknowledge the reality of the military occupation in the West Bank. "It’s very easy [for the Israeli public] to be completely detached. It’s a hard thing to handle – stuff like that being done in your name."

According to Gerard Horton, of Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCI), the testimonies reflect and confirm a pattern of behaviour uncovered by his organisation’s extensive research into the treatment of Palestinian children by the Israeli security forces.

DCI and other human rights organisations say Palestinian children are routinely arrested at night, handcuffed, blindfolded, mistreated and denied access to their parents or a lawyer.

"For years credible reports of human rights abuses against children living under Israeli military occupation have emerged," he said. "These latest testimonies from young soldiers given the task of enforcing the occupation provide further evidence of its deeply corrosive effects on all. The testimonies lay bare the day-to-day reality of the occupation. These are not isolated incidents or a question of ’a few bad apples’. This is the natural and foreseeable consequence of government policy."

A spokesman for the Israeli Defence Forces said that Breaking the Silence had declined to provide the IDF with testimonies ahead of publication so they could be verified and investigated.

He said its true intention was "to generate negative publicity regarding the IDF and its soldiers. The IDF has in the past, and continues to, call upon the organisation to immediately convey complaints or suspicions of improper conduct to the relevant authorities. In line with the IDF’s ethical commitments, any such incidents will be thoroughly investigated."

(26 août 2012 - Harriet Sherwood, The Gardian)

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جنود اسرائيليون سابقون : اساءة الجيش الى الاطفال الفلسطينيين امر "روتيني"
كشف جنود اسرائيليون سابقون خدموا في الاراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة ان سوء معاملة الاطفال الفلسطينيين على يد القوات الاسرائيلية هو امر "روتيني" ويحدث حتى في مراحل الهدوء النسبي.
ونشرت "مجموعة كسر الصمت" المؤلفة من جنود اسرائيليين سابقين والتي تنتقد ممارسات الجيش، اليوم، اكثر من 30 شهادة بالانكليزية تكشف انه يتم استخدام العنف الجسدي الذي يكون تعسفيا في بعض الاحيان ضد الاطفال الصغار جدا.
ويقول الكتيب الذي يتألف من اثنين وسبعين صفحة : "الشهادات تظهر روتينا يعامل فيه القاصرون الفلسطينيون الذين يكونون احيانا اصغر من عشرة اعوام بطريقة تتجاهل اعمارهم الصغيرة".
ويتحدث الكتيب عن شهادات جنود في الفترة ما بين العامين 2005 و2011 وهي الفترة ما بعد الانتفاضة الفلسطينية الثانية.
ويشير التقرير انه "على الرغم من ان الاحداث المشار اليها هنا وقعت بعد ذروة الانتفاضة الثانية في مرحلة تعتبر هادئة وخالية من الاحداث من وجهة نظر "امنية"، فان الشهادات اظهرت حقيقة ان المعاملة القاسية للاطفال الفلسطينيين مستمرة بلا هوادة".
وفي احدى الشهادات، وصف رقيب سابق لم يكشف هويته، كمعظم الجنود الذين ادلوا بشهاداتهم، غارة عقابية على حي في منطقة رام الله عقب اشتباكات مع فلسطينيين مشيرا الى ان عشرات الجنود استخدموا هراوات خشبية "لضرب الناس، وبعدها تم اعتقال الاطفال الموجودين في المنطقة".
واضاف :"كان المطلوب ان يركض الناس ليقعوا على الارض. يتعرض كل راكض بطيء للضرب، هكذا كانت القاعدة". ويروي رقيب سابق اخر عن عملية في قرية عزون في شمال الضفة الغربية حيث تم القاء حجارة من منعطف في الطريق على سائقي سيارات من مستوطنة معالي شمرون القريبة.
واضاف :"وصلنا الى القرية وذهبنا الى اقرب بيت عند المنعطف وعندها رأينا مجموعة من الاطفال اعمارهم تراوح بين 9 وعشر سنوات يهربون، ركضوا في بداية الامر الى ان وصلوا الى شرفة احد البيوت وبعدها اخذ القائد قنبلة صوتية ورماها على تلك الشرفة وانفجرت. لا اعتقد انها الحقت بهم الاذى ولكنها جعلتهم يهربون من الشرفة".
ووصف الرقيب كيفية مطاردة الاطفال من جانب قائده الذي رفع سلاحه الناري وصوبه على وجه احد الاطفال من مسافة قريبة قائلا :"ارتعب الطفل وكان متأكدا من انه سيقتل وتوسل للحفاظ على حياته".
واضاف :"طفل توسل للحفاظ على حياته؟ تم توجيه بندقية الى وجهه فطلب الرحمة؟ هذه ندوب ستلاحقه لمدى الحياة".
من جهته، قال الجيش الاسرائيلي ان "مجموعة كسر الصمت" لم توفر له معلومات اساسية كافية لتمكنه من التحقيق في ادعاءات معينة.
واوضح الجيش في بيان "من خلال جمع الشهادات لفترات طويلة من الزمن ورفض توفير معلومات اضافية، فان المؤسسة تثبت نواياها الحقيقية، فبدلا من تسهيل التحقيقات الملائمة تسعى المنظمة الى بث دعاية سلبية ضد الجيش الاسرائيلي وجنوده".
(ا ف ب)

(26 août 2012 - Avec les agences de presse)

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