Trump targets Hispanic vote in 2024 as his rivals meet

For Palestinians trapped under Israeli occupation, a childhood has been destroyed the earth

14yearold teenager Abdelrahman alZaghal was one of the youngest Palestinians released by Israel in exchange for hostages taken by Hamas after the October 7 attack on Israel.

Weeks later, his life still bears little resemblance to that of a normal teenager. He is recovering from serious injuries he suffered on the day of his arrest and said his school was waiting for permission from Israel to allow him to attend.

He was shot in August as he left his home to buy bread and woke up handcuffed in a hospital bed, watched over by two police officers, with gunshot wounds to the head and pelvis.

Israel accused Zaghal of throwing a Molotov cocktail, which he denies. His mother, Najah, said he was shot by a man guarding a Jewish settlement near their home in East Jerusalem.

As a resident of Jerusalem, the teenager's case ended up in an Israeli civil court. The judge ordered him to be placed under house arrest until the end of the trial, but to remove him from the neighborhood where he lives.

The day he was released, Zaghal said he jumped for joy. But the party ended when he had to undergo surgery because he suffered a brain injury from the shooting, his mother said.

Among the 240 Palestinians Israel released during a lull in the war in Gaza in November, Zaghal is one of 104 who were under 18. In return, Hamas released 110 women, children and foreigners who had been taken hostage on October 7.

More than half of the Palestinians released under the deal were arrested without charge, Israeli records show. Since 2000, the Israeli army has arrested around 13,000 Palestinian children, almost all boys between the ages of 12 and 17, said Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP).

“Everywhere a Palestinian child goes, there is an Israeli military exerting some sort of control over their life,” said Miranda Cleland of DCIP.

Israel says it is detaining Palestinians on suspicion of or planning attacks on its citizens. The Israeli military claims that security authorities in the occupied West Bank “protect the rights of minors in all administrative and criminal proceedings.”

In the West Bank, Palestinians and Israelis are subject to separate legal systems. Palestinians, including minors, are tried in a military court.

Based on the testimony of 766 children arrested between 2016 and 2022, DCIP found that 59% of them were abducted at night by soldiers. About 75% were subjected to physical violence and 97% were interrogated without a family member or lawyer present. One in four people are held in solitary confinement for two or more days before the trial begins, Cleland said.

Lawyers are committed to helping children reach a settlement in court, as they say the conviction rate is over 95%.

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