Israel’s November assault on Gaza—taking place with a go-ahead from the United States following the re-election of President Obama—killed 168 people. Those deaths included 50 children; more than 450 children suffered injuries from the bombings that targeted primarilly residential areas.
But this most recent, overt chapter in the ongoing U.S.-Israeli war on the Palestinian people—an attack that destroyed schools, clinics and civilian infrastructure—is only part of the story of an ongoing campaign that targets children.
The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees reported a 28 percent increase since last year in the number of children kipnapped, tortured and interrogated by Israel Defense Forces in 2012, an increase from 700 children to 900. Currently there are 200 children being detained, 32 of them under the age of 16.
The IDF escalated their torturous methods against youth and children in November during the seige of Gaza and the recognition of Palestine’s status as a state by the U.N. IDF Military Order 132 extends interrogations to children as young as 12 years old. These children along with their adult counterparts are denied rights that are recognized internationally. Family members and legal teams are not informed of the location of the detainees.
These barbaric acts on the part of the IDF are intended to obtain information on relatives and family friends of the children. The U.S.-funded Zionist military goes to any length in their quest for continued occupation.
“Most of the kidnapped children were tortured and abused during their arrest; soldiers would beat and kick them with their weapons and boots, and sometimes with batons … in many cases the soldiers fired rounds of live ammunition, gas bombs and concussion grenades,” read the report issued by the PMD. Nassar Aref Jaradat, a 16-year-old, was kidnapped from his home in Sair, just outside of Hebron and taken to the Etzion Air Force Base in 2010. He was forced to stand out in the cold rain for several hours, beaten repeatedly and then shocked with electric current until he was left unconscious. It is typical for the interrogations to include exposure to cold or sun for many hours, often while the detainees are blindfolded and handcuffed.
Most often the children are detained and tortured in the so-called settlements—illegally occupied land—illustrating the role the settlements play in the terrorizing Palestinians in the West Bank.
The IDF does not function on its own. Israel is buttressed to the tune of $3 billion a year—money that comes from the U.S. tax base. Nearly $9 million a day could pay for community centers, clinics, schools, after-school care and other critical services now on the chopping block if it were used to meet people’s needs and not maintain Israel as a military outpost for U.S. interests in the region. The struggle of Palestinians for the right of return and the right of self-determination, supported by people of the U.S., can play a key role in fighting to cut off the funding for these crimes.