A 10-year-old boy was subjected to physical abuse amounting to torture for 2.5 hours by Israeli soldiers who stormed his family's shop on 11 June, seeking information on the location of a handgun. The boy was repeatedly beaten, slapped and punched in the head and stomach, forced to hold a stress position for half and hour, and threatened. He was deeply shocked and lost two molar teeth as a result of the assault.
On Wednesday 11 June 2008, at around 10:30am, 10-year-old Ezzat, his brother Makkawi (7) and sister Lara (8) were in their father's shop selling animal feed and eggs in the village of Sanniriya, near the West Bank city of Qalqiliya. The children were suddenly startled to see two Israeli soldiers storm in to the shop.
Interrogation and abuse in the shop
One soldier wearing a black T-shirt started shouting in a loud, menacing voice in Arabic, 'your father sent us to you to collect his gun'. A terrified Ezzat responded, 'My father does not own a gun'. The soldier responded by slapping Ezzat hard across the right cheek and his brother Makawi across his face. The soldier then ordered Makkawi and Lara to leave the shop. Once the younger children had left the soldier demanded once again that Ezzat hand over his father's gun. Although Ezzat repeated that his father did not own a gun the soldier ordered him to search for it in the sacks containing the animal feed. Ezzat kept insisting that there was no gun in the shop so the soldier slapped him once again, this time across his left cheek.
One of Ezzat's friends, realising that something was wrong, tried to enter the shop but was kicked by the soldier standing at the door and prevented from entering. Soon a group of local people had gathered outside the shop. Some of the people in the group also tried to enter the shop but were prevented from doing so by the soldier at the door.
The soldier in the black T-shirt asked him once again to produce the gun. Ezzat answered, 'We do not have anything'. The soldier responded by punching him hard in the stomach causing Ezzat to fall over on to empty egg boxes. Ezzat started screaming and crying out from pain and fear. The soldier in the black T-shirt started making fun of Ezzat and imitated him crying. Ezzat remained in the shop alone with the soldiers for a further 15 minutes when the soldier in black abruptly grabbed him by his T-shirt and dragged him out of the shop. Ezzat asked the soldier if he could lock up his father's shop but the soldier said he wanted it to remain open so that it could be robbed. The soldier also threatened to put Ezzat in his jeep and take him away.
Once they were out of the shop, Ezzat was ordered to walk in front of the soldiers to his house, whilst a gun was pointed at his back. The soldiers hit him several times on the nape along the way. On approaching his house Ezzat saw many Israeli military officials surrounding the house and a number of green military vehicles parked outside. One of the olive coloured jeeps had the word 'police' written on it.
Interrogation and abuse in the home
After arriving at the family's home the soldier in the black T-shirt stood Ezzat in the yard and ordered him to search the flower basin for the gun. Before Ezzat had a chance to respond the soldier slapped him so violently that Ezzat fell down face first into the basin. Without giving him the chance to stand up the soldier grabbed him by his T-shirt and lifted him up roughly. He was then instructed in Arabic by another soldier to head to the guestroom.
On approaching the guestroom Ezzat could see his father standing by the door. The soldier slapped him on the neck and Ezzat fell to the ground. As Ezzat stood up the soldier slapped him a second time making him fall to the ground once again. All this happened in front of his father. He then grabbed Ezzat by his T-shirt and lifted him in to the air. The soldier told Ezzat's father that he was going to take his son to prison. He also threatened to take Ezzat's 19-year-old sister to prison. Ezzat was then pushed forcibly in to the guest room where his mother and four of his other siblings including his sisters Diana (19), Raghda (18), (Aya) 15 and brother Jihad (3), were being held. His mother was crying. Ezzat was also crying and when asked by his mother why he was crying, he said it was because he had been hit by the soldiers. His mother asked the soldiers to stop beating her son and to beat her instead.
After several minutes Ezzat was taken out of the guestroom and slapped several times by the soldier in black, once so hard that he fell to the ground. After being moved to several locations in the house Ezzat was told to stay in the boys' bedroom. The same soldier then left the room but would return every five minutes to slap Ezzat and also to punch him several times in the stomach. Each time this took place Ezzat would shout and scream out in pain and burst in to tears. The soldier would then imitate him and make fun of him. The soldier hit him around six times.
Destruction of property and use of stress positions
A short time later, five soldiers entered the room and proceeded to destroy the family's property using hammers. In all, the soldiers destroyed wooden ventilation panels in the attic, a small refrigerator in the bedroom and it contents, damage to the kitchen, a fan and the fireplace.
Ezzat spent one hour in the bedroom alone with the soldiers. In that hour he was ordered by the same soldier to stand on one foot for half an hour, with his back against the wall and with both his hands lifted up in the air (see picture). Ezzat was exhausted by this but was too scared to put his foot down on the ground. Eventually he was told by one of the other soldiers that he could put his foot down. He was then asked to sit down in a squat position. He managed to remain in this position for two minutes and then had to stand up. A female soldier then walked in to the room and asked him to sit on the refrigerator box.
Shortly after the soldier in the black T-shirt returned accompanied by Ezzat's older sister Diana. He proceeded to ask Ezzat whether he cared for his sister to which Ezzat responded, 'Yes I do'. The soldier then asked him to tell him where the gun was hidden and that if he told him where it was hidden that he would not tell Ezzat's father. The soldier left the room with Ezzat's sister. He then returned to the room on his own and hit Ezzat all over his body. He left the room once again and after a while came back offering Ezzat 10 Shekels in return for telling him where the gun was. Ezzat responded that he did not care about money. This made the soldier extremely angry and he took off his helmet and started throwing it at Ezzat from two metres away. Ezzat was in extreme pain. The soldier continued to hit him with the helmet and then left the room once again returning to slap him across his face and on his stomach. This continued for some time with the soldier leaving the room and returning to hit Ezzat and to question him over the gun.
Interrogation of family
Ezzat then witnessed the soldier in the black T-shirt and the female soldier leading his sisters and mother to one of the rooms close to the boys' bedroom. They closed the door of the room but Ezzat could hear the soldiers shouting at them. He overheard the soldier telling the female soldier to hit his mother because she was refusing to take her clothes off to be searched. After the incident was over Ezzat's sister informed him that they were all strip searched by the female soldier, while the male soldier waited outside.
Meanwhile, a soldier wearing black sunglasses entered the bedroom in which Ezzat was being held. He walked in pointing a rifle, a few centimetres away from Ezzat's head. Ezzat was so terrified that he began to shiver. The soldier laughed and made fun of him. He asked Ezzat to tell him where the gun was and threatened to shoot him if he didn't. Ezzat continued to maintain that there was no weapon hidden away. The soldier, getting agitated shouted at Ezzat, 'for the last time, tell me where the gun is before I shoot you". Ezzat repeated that he did not have a gun. Hearing this, the soldier lowered his rifle and left the room. After about five minutes the soldier in the black T-shirt entered the room along with four other soldiers and said that they were leaving but would return.
The soldiers spent two and half hours in the house in total. After the incident Ezzat spent the night at his uncle's house because he was too scared to sleep in his home. As a result of the physical assault Ezzat lost two of his molar teeth and is deeply shocked by the incident.
DCI/PS is appalled that Israeli authorities would subject a 10-year-old child to beatings, position abuse and threats over the course of several hours. The treatment of Ezzat falls within the definition of torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as defined in the UN Convention Against Torture, to which Israel is a State Party. The treatment of Ezzat also infringes numerous other international conventions to which Israel is bound (1), as well as Israeli military and domestic law (2).
DCI/PS again calls on Israel to immediately ensure its compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture and to thoroughly and impartially investigate the allegations of torture and abuse of Ezzat and bring those found responsible for such abuse to justice.
DCI/PS also calls on the EU to make the upgrade of EU-Israel bilateral relations conditional upon measurable and confirmed progress by Israel to uphold the EU human rights standards in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
(1) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) - article 5; Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) - articles 27 and 31 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) - article 7; and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) - articles 2(2), 3, 16 and 37(a).
(2) Israeli military law establishes the specific offence of 'ill treatment' which prohibits the beating or other abuse of any person in a soldier's custody: see Military Adjudication Law, 5715-1955, Article 65. See also articles 378-382 of the Israeli penal code.