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Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|The Palestinian Anne Franks|
|06/23/02 at 16:50:20|
|I don't know the background of the author, but it's worth|
''The Anne Franks of Palestine''
Printed on Thursday, June 20, 2002
By Yusuf Agha
"Itís utterly impossible for me to build my life on a
foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world
being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the
approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I
feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at
the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the
better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and
tranquility will return once more." (Anne Frank)
Some years ago, I visited the home where Anne Frank and her
family concealed themselves for fear of Nazi persecution.
It was a cool but sunny afternoon in Amsterdam, with tulips
swaying gently in the breeze. And apart from the hustle and
bustle of tourists ambling down the Prinsengracht to visit
the home - a veritable shrine to the innocence of a teenage
girl caught up in the madness of war - peace and
tranquility had returned once more.
Nine months after being arrested, Anne Frank died of Typhus
in March of 1945 at the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen
- she was 15 years old. It's hard to believe that the
insanity surrounding her torment happened less than sixty
It is harder still to believe that this madness continues
to this day.
Also almost six decades ago, catastrophic events in 1948
resulted in thousands of Palestinians being wrenched out of
their homes, dispossessed and denied the right of returning
to their ancestral homes. They must, to paraphrase Anne
Frank, have seen their world being slowly transformed into
a wilderness; they must have heard the approaching thunder
that, one day, would destroy them.
There is a difference, though. Post-Nazi Europe thrives;
the Jews have found a homeland. But for the Palestinians,
the cruelty has not ended.
Meet today's Anne Frank. Suad Ghazal is seventeen years old
and a prisoner in an Israeli prison. Suad was only fifteen
years when she was arrested after being accused by an adult
female settler of attempted assault. Following her arrest,
she was taken to a settlement police post where she was
severely beaten by Israeli settlers.
Suad was then incarcerated in Ramle prison, where her agony
Those who have seen World War II movies will be familiar
with Nazi- and Japanese-style isolation cells, where "less
desirable" prisoners were kept to break their morale. In
Ramle, "the isolation cells are two meters square with an
open toilet," reports the Geneva-based human rights group
Defense for Children International/Palestine Section
(DCI/PS). In April 2001, Suad was repeatedly placed in such
cells for varying lengths of time, totally devastated and
... the minute I was alone I knew I was going to cry my
eyes out. I slid to the floor in my nightgown and began by
saying my prayers, very fervently. Then I drew my knees to
my chest, lay my head on my arms and cried, all huddled up
on the bare floor. A loud sob brought me back down to
earth... (Anne Frank)
"Subsequently," continues the DCI report, "Suad was moved
to a stifling hot, rank cell that measured three meters by
one meter which she was forced to share with another
prisoner. The room had one bed that Suad slept on, while
the other prisoner slept on the floor. They were given
blankets that were covered in mites, causing rashes on
Meet a second Anne Frank: fourteen year-old Sanaa Amer.
Overlook, if you can, that "her arms and legs were tied to
her bed continuously for 8-hours a day over two consecutive
Sanaa and her sister were convicted of "intent" to stab an
Israeli settler in Hebron. An Israeli military court tried
and sentenced the child to a twelve months imprisonment
term - a sentence that DCI/PS calls "shocking as it did not
take into account her age or the fact that she did not
carry out any violent act whatsoever."
Sanaa, too, was sent to Ramle. Soon after, reports the DCI,
in response to the deteriorating situation in prison, "the
female Palestinian political detainees launched a hunger
strike at the end of June. The prison administration Ö
attacked the detainees with tear gas and heavy batons. The
prisoners were taken to isolation and beaten."
"During the attack, Sanaa Amer was beaten with batons on
her arms and legs. Her arms were tied behind her back and
she was kicked by police in her stomach, inducing her to
cough up blood."
Was it for Suad and Sanaa that Anne penned these lines?
"I've reached the point where I hardly care whether I live
or die. The world will keep on turning without me, and I
can't do anything to change events anyway."
But Suad and Sanaa are not alone. DCI reports that
approximately 600 Palestinian children have been arrested
by the Israeli occupation authorities since the beginning
of the second Intifada in September 2000, of whom around
160 remain incarcerated.
From Jerusalem alone, more than 100 Palestinian children
under the age of eighteen have been arrested since
September, reports the Jerusalem Center for Social and
Economic Rights (JCSER). "Many of them were arrested during
demonstrations for throwing stones. These minors are jailed
for an average of four to six months and held in custody at
least until his or her trial finishes. Furthermore,
children have been placed in cells with those who have been
detained for criminal offences. Child detainees have been
&nbsn they died, and so on. This is because this is not essential knowledge whereby if a person does not know about such information he will fails to become a student of knowledge or a scholar. The difference between essentials and anecdotes is that for the essentials, one is in need of men, the people of knowledge, to explain these essentials. There are two methods of obtaining this knowledge that is essential, either by verbal communication or by reading books, but the proper understanding and the ability to derive rulings from this knowledge is obtained through the scholars. Hence, the salaf have a saying, "knowledge used to reside in the chest of men," i.e. before the books of hadeeth, tafseer and fiqh were written, "then it was put into books, however its keys remained with the scholars." It is possible for one to refer to books, open books, read and research them, but opening onesí understanding to what are in those books remains at the hands of the scholars.
What are anecdot; Al-Ahram weekly quotes from a report issued by the Israeli
human rights group, B'Tselem. The report exposes "the
systematic torture and abuse of Palestinian minors detained
at the police station in Gush Etzion, near the West Bank
town of Bethlehem. Ö Police arrested Palestinian children
in their homes in the middle of the night and took them to
the police station in Gush Etzion, where police
interrogators tortured them until the morning to obtain
confessions and information about other minors."
The report continues: "Methods of torture described in the
report included forcing the juvenile detainees to stand in
painful positions for prolonged periods; beating them
severely for hours at a time with various objects;
splashing cold water on the detainees in the facility's
courtyard in wintry conditions; pushing their heads into
the toilet bowl and flushing the toilet; making death
threats and cursing and degrading them."
Meet Ahmad Ziad Hijazi, a Jerusalem resident and imminent
threat-extraordinare to the IDF for all of his tender
fifteen years. He, too, threw stones at tanks and armored
cars. Ahmad suffers from asthma and "since his arrest,"
reports the JCSER, "has spent about 40 days in isolation.
It was only recently that he was transferred to a child
prison. The conditions in prison worsened his health
condition enormously. Today, he needs treatment three times
I'll just let matters take their course Ö and hope that
everything will be all right in the end. (Anne Frank)
The JCSER has issued a condemnation of "the conditions and
treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons. Many
of these prisons lack basic facilities and living
conditions, violate not only Israeli law, but also the
Convention on the Rights of the Child."
Article 37 of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the
Child reads: "No child shall be subjected to torture or
other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
The Rights of the Child! What rights do brutal regimes like
the Third Reich grant children like Anne Frank? What rights
do tortuous regimes like Sharon's permit the children of
Writing in the Israeli paper Ha'aretz, Joseph Algazy tells
of the 80 Palestinian youths imprisoned at Telmond, most of
them15 and 16 years old. "They were arrested because of
their participation in protest activities of the Al-Aqsa
Intifada. The youths, members of their families, their
attorneys and DCI, have complained in the past that jailed
Palestinian minors have been beaten and humiliated during
their detention and interrogation, have been tortured
physically and mentally, have had confessions extorted from
them, and have been sentenced by military courts to long
periods of imprisonment and payment of fines."
The Ha'aretz article recalls the harrowing statements made
under oath to the Public Committee Against Torture in
Israel, by some of the minors prisoners at Telmond. They
deposed "about the types of violence used against them when
they were arrested in their homes, usually in the middle of
the night; about the beatings they received during their
interrogation at police headquarters or in military prison
facilities, in order to extort confessions that would
incriminate them and others; about being kept in isolation
for long periods of time, in cells without bathrooms; and
about being held in the Telmond prison with criminals who
abused and attacked them."
The article also quotes the Palestine Red Crescent,
according to which "154 Palestinian minors (under 18) were
killed in the period between September 29, 2000 and June
17, 2001; of these, 26 were children under the age of 12,
including infants. The number of minors injured is
estimated in the thousands."
Itís utterly impossible for me to build my life on a
foundation of chaos, suffering and death. (Anne Frank)
These are the camps of Ramle and Telmond, the latter
ironically located on confiscated Palestinian land, run by
the Israel Prison Service. They are the modern versions of
the fearsome "Jugenverwahrlage" or "children camps" of the
Nazis, where hundreds of children and teenagers were
transferred to these places - before they were shipped to
But there are no exterminations, you say? Ask of the
parents of Abu Mutawi.
Last Tuesday evening, June 11, Abu Mutawi, a 9-year-old
Palestinian child was shot dead when IDF forces opened fire
on a residential area in Gaza. The child was struck by an
Israeli bullet in the chest in the proximity of his home.
The Israeli army had no comment.
Also last Tuesday, a ten year-old Palestinian girl, Wissam
Muhamed, was wounded when an Israeli settler ran over her
Tuesday, reports the Palestinian News Agency, WAFA. The
Israeli settler is an inhabitant of the illegal settlement
of Dutan. No arrests have yet been made.
In a letter to George Bush in February this year, a number
of Palestinian school children had this to ask of the U.S.
President: "Like all children in the world, we just want to
live a normal and peaceful childhood, to be able to reach
school safely, and to be able to sleep at night in comfort
when even our parents' comforting does not free us from the
horror we live on a daily basis, the images of funerals,
humiliating checkpoints, and injured friends, and the fear
of the sounds of shelling and gun ships - Are we asking for
Maybe at least one ten year-old child in Rafah was asking
for too much.
Jennifer Loewenstein, a prolific writer who also works for
the Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza City, recalls
events in April this year of how "Israeli soldiers shot
dead a ten year old boy in Rafah for having the audacity to
play too close to the border. The children of Rafah make
good target practice for those planning their nighttime
raids into the refugee camps there and elsewhere throughout
Golda Meir, the former Israeli Prime minister, once said:
"There will be peace in the Middle East only when the Arabs
love their children more than they hate Israel." What the
"gentle" Prime Minister of Israel failed to understand was
that it is not that the Palestinian mothers' love their
children less, it is their incarceration, their torture,
their deaths that they despise.
It is the criminal hijack of the future of entire
generations of Palestinians by successive Israeli
Like "Huriya Beni Odeh from the village of Jiftlik [who]
had a miscarriage because of delays at an Israel Defense
Forces roadblock, when she was on her way from her home to
the hospital in Jericho," per a DCI report.
Or like another little ten year-old girl, Osa'ama Hamdan
with her warm brown eyes and gentle locks of hair, "who
died of complications of pneumonia after her parents were
prevented [by IDF forces] from taking her to the hospital
And yet, when she looked up at the sky, she must somehow
have felt that everything will change for the better, that
this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will
return once more.
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