Is he afraid to sleep in his cell alone? Is his thin body strengthened to withstand severe cold? What about the covers, are they sufficient to keep him warm? Does the food that is offered to him suit him? The spiral of questions in the imagination of mothers of child prisoners runs deep; But it is more branched with the mothers of Jerusalemite cubs, who deliberately pushed some of them into criminal prisons. Not those designated for Palestinian (security) political prisoners.
Basil Aweidah (17 years old) is the latest in the convoy of Jerusalemite minors, who were forced to stay with the criminals of Jews and Arabs in the Israeli “Ofak” prison, and the prison authority has continued to detain him in this prison since December 20.
His mother, Kulayaz Aweidah, told Al-Jazeera Net the family’s suffering, which began when he was a child at the age of 13 and a half, when the occupation forces arrested him after he was accused of throwing stones at a bus of religious settlers.
Basil spent 28 days in interrogation at the Al-Maskobiyya Interrogation Center in Jerusalem, after which he was transferred to house arrest, where he stayed for 3 full years.
A month ago, the court ordered him and his family to work in public service for a period of 6 months, at a rate of 8 hours per day, while maintaining the nightly home detention, or surrendering himself to the Prison Authority to serve his 4-month sentence in the actual prison.
Basil preferred to be saved from house arrest, which exhausted him psychologically, and gave himself to Ramle prison. The occupation turned him into a criminal prison, which he did not expect at all.
“In addition to my concern about him due to the Corona pandemic, not providing him with face masks, and providing bad food, I am worried about him more than contact with prisoners in this prison designated for those accused of theft, rape, drug trafficking and drug abuse, and other issues.”
Basil’s mother confirmed that he is in a section full of Arab and Jewish criminal prisoners, and that he lives in a state of tension between them, and that he does not stop contacting his family to inquire about his being placed in a criminal prison.
Basil told us several times over the phone that the prison administration informed him that the court and the lawyer decided to put him in this prison because his case is criminal, but his father always reassures him of denying this information and his continuous attempts to transfer him to Damon Prison, where the children of Jerusalem’s prisoners are located.
The mother spends the minutes during which she communicates with Basil warning him of the prisoners, urging him not to exchange conversations with them on the one hand, and reassuring him that she and his father are communicating with the Red Cross and the Committee of the Families of the Jerusalemite Prisoners, to transfer him as soon as possible to the appropriate place for him as a political and not criminal prisoner on the other hand.
The head of the Committee for the Families of Jerusalemite Prisoners, Amjad Abu Asab, confirmed that the occupation began to blackmail Palestinian prisoners and their families with this measure about 3 years ago, and the aim of putting children in criminal prisons is to put pressure on them and their families, and to deliver a message that not every child resisting the occupation is arrested in a prison For Palestinian security men, to be proud and praise for their families that they are in the castles of steadfastness and education; Rather, he lives with the underworld, and is subjected to blackmail, beatings and abuse at their hands.
Children arrested on the background of national issues collide with what they see from a filthy environment that they cannot cope with, and enter a very poor psychological situation because of their inability to coexist with the criminals, according to Abu Asab.
The occupation wants to mix the papers of the young prisoners, as they used to transfer them to the prisons of Damun and Majdou, and there they are surrounded by senior security prisoners, who organize their time for them, and exploit it with fruitful education, education and polishing of personality.
“The occupation deliberately harms these children, as part of them stayed for months in solitary confinement for refusing to meet and coexist with the criminals, and another part was subjected to beatings, abuse and threats at the hands of intelligence officers and prison directors,” added the head of the Committee of the Families of Jerusalemite Prisoners.
He emphasized that the danger of imprisoning Palestinian prisoners in criminal prisons is primarily due to the assault of criminal prisoners, particularly Jews, on these children. Because putting the interests of their people ahead of their own is a matter that disturbs the owners of cases of corruption, prostitution, drugs and rape, so the presence of children from this category is strange and unacceptable to criminals.
“We also record our fear when the Jerusalemite child stays in these prisons for a long time, because his psyche is affected by what he sees, and we worry that he will be dragged on a difficult path.”
Adult prisoners inside prisons always threaten the Prisons Authority with protest steps, as soon as they learn of the detention of a child in criminal prisons, and they seek to transfer him to Damon Prison, which is “the natural national embrace for these prisoners,” as Abu Asab put it.
In turn, the lawyer who specializes in Jerusalem cases, Khaled Zebarqa, said that Israeli law differentiates between minors and adults. Because it is always assumed that minors commit offenses out of a childhood mentality, which does not differentiate between the permissible and the forbidden, and therefore they need rehabilitation, not punishment.
Accordingly, the Israeli authorities systematically violate – when they arrest Palestinian children – Israeli laws, which require special treatment with this group, according to Zebaraqa.
The imprisonment of Jerusalemite children with criminals does not constitute a violation of their privacy as children, but rather a violation of their right to rehabilitation. Instead of being properly rehabilitated through education and education by Palestinian political prisoners, they are paired with criminal prisoners; the prison”.
Al-Maqdisi’s view of the occupation changed
On the possibility of transferring these children to prisons designated for Palestinian political prisoners, Zebaraa explained that this is possible through a legal path that begins with the child’s lawyer going to the Prisons Authority first, and then to the court if the first rejects the request.
“I followed up on a case like this one, and I requested that the minor child be transferred from a criminal prison to a (security) politician according to his request, and after many legal procedures, I was able to transfer him, but after serving a very long period of his sentence.”
According to Zebarqa, the occupation aims to reshape the awareness of Jerusalemites through this measure. Because he knows that they are the spearhead in the face of the Zionist project in Jerusalem in general and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular.
Therefore, work is being done on several levels, the most prominent of which is the impact on the awareness of the Palestinians in Jerusalem, especially children, to be receptive to the occupation policies in the city in the future, and putting children in prisons with the criminals is one of the tools to raise awareness, in addition to intensifying work on enrolling Jerusalem children in schools that teach Israeli curricula.
According to the data of the Committee of the Families of Jerusalemite Prisoners, there are currently 340 prisoners from Jerusalem, including 11 women and 22 children, who suffer from harsh conditions in the Damon and Ofek prisons, which are designated for criminal prisoners.