by Al Akhbar
Israeli forces detained a 17-year-old student and an 11-year-old child in Jerusalem, witnesses told Ma’an news agency Wednesday, as Israeli demolition orders could leave 70 Palestinians homeless.
That same day, Israeli soldiers arrested a former Palestinian prisoner who had been previously been released as part of a prisoner swap deal.
According to witnesses, Israeli forces detained Dalia Murad Mohammed Qarawi, 17, while she was on her way home from school in annexed East Jerusalem.
Israeli forces claimed Qarawi sprayed “a substance” on a police vehicle and was thus taken for interrogation at an Israeli police station on Salah al-Din street.
Meanwhile, 11-year-old Baraa Issam Shahin was detained by Israeli forces on Ein al-Luza street in the Silwan neighborhood of annexed East Jerusalem and was taken to the Russian Compound detention center in West Jerusalem for interrogation.
It is still unclear why Shahin was detained.
Early December, Israeli forces detained two Palestinian children, 8 and 12, also in Silwan.
Unrest has gripped Jerusalem and the West Bank on an almost daily basis for the past five months, flaring up after a group of Zionist settlers kidnapped and burned a young Palestinian to death because of his ethnicity, and worsened by the deadly Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip in July and August.
In late November, executive director of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) Abdullah al-Zaghari said Israeli forces detained nine-month-old Balqis Ghawadra and two-year-old Baraa Ghawadra during a visit to see their jailed father. The two children were released the following day.
At least 600 Palestinian children have been arrested in annexed Jerusalem alone since last June.
According to a recent report by the Palestinian Prisoners Club (PPC), nearly 40 percent of these children have been subjected to sexual abuse during arrest or investigation by the Israeli authorities.
At least 300 minors are currently behind bars.
Around 95 percent of detained children were subjected to beatings and torture by Israeli security personnel while in detention, while many were forced to make confessions under duress and undergo unfair trials, said Issa Qaraqe, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) committee on detainees.
More than 10,000 Palestinian minors in the occupied West Bank and annexed Jerusalem have been held by the Israeli army for varying periods since 2000, a PLO official said last month.
According to the UN children’s fund (UNICEF), over the past decade, Israel has detained “an average of two children each day.”
In its 2013 report, UNICEF added that Israel was the only country in the world where children were “systematically tried” in military courts and gave evidence of practices it said were “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”
A report by Defense for Children International (DCI) published in May 2014 revealed that Israel jails 20 percent of Palestinian children it detains in solitary confinement.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces on Wednesday arrested Ibtisam al-Issawi, 46, during a raid on her home in the Jabal al-Mukkabir neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem.
The head of a Palestinian committee dedicated to prisoners’ and detainees’ families, Amjad Abu Asab, told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided Issawi’s house before arresting her and taking her to the Russian Compound detention center.
Abu Asab added that Issawi was released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal after spending 10 years in Israeli jails, and that she is married and has six children.
Issawi is one of more than 70 former prisoners released in the 2011 exchange that have been re-detained by Israel since the summer.
The deal traded Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas fighters on the Gaza Strip border in 2006, for 1,027 Palestinians and Palestinian with Israeli citizenship being held in Israeli jails.
The detention and retrial of the released prisoners is a breach of the deal and could potentially have wide-reaching consequences for other freed detainees.
More than 6,500 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli jails.
On Wednesday, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said 21 Palestinian women, including three minors, are currently held in Israeli jails.
Israel threatens to demolish 62 percent of Silwan houses
Also in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, Israeli forces delivered Wednesday demolition orders to 11 Palestinian houses, some as old as 30 years, saying they have been built “without permits.”
Fakhri Abu Diab, a member in the committee for the Defense of Silwan Lands and Estates, told Ma’an that at least 70 people will become homeless if the houses get demolished.
Abu Diab said that in the past few days more and more orders have been delivered, and even in some cases to houses that were built before the 1967 occupation of Jerusalem.
Moreover, Abu Diab accused the Israeli authorities of seeking to displace Palestinian residents in order to take over the neighborhood, adding that over 62 percent of houses in Silwan are under the threat of demolition.
So far in 2014, Israel has demolished more than 543 Palestinian structures and displaced at least 1,266 people, according to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
Local and international watchdogs have widely criticized Israel’s home demolition policy, saying that it contributes to a cycle of violence and merely inflicts collective punishment on family members.
Besides demolishing Palestinian properties, Israeli authorities have allowed Zionist settlers to take over Palestinian homes, have announced plans to build thousands of settlements strictly for Israeli settlers, and have generally looked the other way at rising violence by Zionist settlers against Palestinians.
According to Abu Diab, many Israeli settlers build houses without permits but none received demolition orders.
More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
Jerusalem Palestinians also face discrimination in all aspects of life including housing, employment, and services, and although they live within territory Israel has unilaterally annexed, they lack citizenship rights and are instead classified only as “residents” whose permits can be revoked if they move away from the city for more than a few years.
Similarly, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank suffer from the demolition policy.
In May, the European Union missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah urged Israel to halt home demolitions in Area C of the occupied West Bank, describing such actions as “forced transfer of population.”
Israeli authorities rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the Israeli-occupied areas, including in Area C, which amounts to 80 percent of the total land area.
The World Bank estimated in 2013 that Israeli control over Area C costs the Palestinian economy around $3.4 billion annually, or more than one-third of the Palestinian Authority’s GDP.
According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, the Israeli authorities have demolished at least 27,000 Palestinian structures in the West Bank since 1967.
The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-infamous “Balfour Declaration,” called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.