Child Prisoners (by Ariel Gold and Elijah Gold)

Last night we interviewed Am’jed, a 19-year-old young man who had just been released from a year and a half in an Israeli prison. We sat in the courtyard to his house with his mother, his brothers and sisters, and photojournalist Hamde Abu Ramha, who had been detained with the young man and served as our interpreter for the interview. “tell me about the day of your arrest,” I asked. “The soldiers told him that he had to give them his camera,” Hamde said. “He was learning to take picture of what happens at the weekly demonstrations.” “The soldiers demanded that he hand over his camera because he was photographing them.” “After he had given his camera he then asked for it back, the soldiers said no, but he continued to demand that they return his camera.”   As he would not acquiesce to them taking his camera, the arrested him. Hamde told us that they both were taken to the police station handcuffed and blindfolded. Though it is a requirement that the handcuffs and blindfolds be removed, the soldiers only removed the blindfolds. For a number of hours the young man, then 17-years-old was interrogated. He was interrogated in Hebrew, though he speaks only Arabic. He was accused of saying fuck you to the police and throwing stones (the lost common charge for young men in the West Bank) and although a number of photojournalists who were present at the demonstration testified in images and words. While the testimonies of the photojournalists story’s were all aligned and the same because they were true. After the photojournalists testified, four soldiers testified and despite all of the soldier’s testimonies being inconsistent with each other’s, Am’jed was convicted of throwing stones and saying curse words at the soldiers. The soldiers were testimonies were considered credible unlike the photojournalist’s testimonies because the soldiers were Jewish Israelis and the photojournalists, like Am’jed, were Palestinian. Though Am’jed had not thrown any stones, he was convicted. From the police station he was transferred to Ofer prison (a notorious military prison in seam zone of Israel and Palestine and then to a prison in Southern Israel. It took Am’jed’s mother six months to get a permit to travel into Israel to visit with her son. It is illegal under the Fourth Geneva convention to detain occupied territory prisoners outside of their occupied territory. This is why it was so hard for Am’jed’s mother to be able to visit him. In prisoners took it upon themselves to continue Am’jed’s education. Upon Am’jed’s release there was a celebration in the village for him. They played music and danced and lifted Am’jed up in a chair, like is done at Jewish bar and bat mitzvah celebrations. We had had the honor a few days before of attending this celebration. It was of the most joyous occasions we have ever been invited to attend and the joy of reunification that lit up Am’jed’s face will stay in our most precious memories forever.

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