Life under occupation – 12
Name: Msallam O.
Date of Arrest: 18 October 2010
Location: Silwan, East Jerusalem, Occupied Palestinian Territory
On 18 October 2010, a 10-year-old boy from Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem, is grabbed by three men in civilian clothes and taken to al-Mascobiyya interrogation centre for questioning.
Ten-year-old Msallam lives in the al-Bustan neighbourhood of Silwan, which is located just outside the old city walls of occupied East Jerusalem. There is a protest tent in al-Bustan, erected by local residents as a place to gather to protest plans by Jerusalem Municipality to demolish houses in the neighbourhood.
At around 3:00pm, on Monday, 18 October 2010, Msallam was standing near the protest tent where a crowd had gathered. Msallam had been standing by the tent for about 10 minutes when “suddenly two white vans arrived and around 15 men stormed out. They were in civilian clothes but their faces were covered in black masks. They ran towards us shouting “stop, stop.” We realised that they were special Israeli undercover units and ran away, but three of the men caught me,‟ recalls Msallam. “One of the men grabbed my back and started choking me. The second one grabbed my shirt and ripped it from the back, and the third one twisted my hands behind my back and tied them with plastic cords. “Who threw stones?” one of the men asked me. “I don’t know,” I said. He started punching me on the head and I shouted in pain. “I didn’t do anything,” I shouted. “Shut up, shut up,” he kept saying whilst punching me.‟ The man then dragged Msallam 100 metres to a waiting vehicle which was surrounded by around 50 Israeli soldiers.
Approximately one-and-a-half hours later, Msallam was transferred to al-Mascobiyya (The Russian Compound), a well known detention centre in Jerusalem, for interrogation. “I sat alone in the chair for about five minutes. I kept thinking that I should not be scared. Why should I go to prison when I didn’t do anything,‟ recalls Msallam. “About five minutes later, my father came into the room with another man. He sat in front of me whereas the other man sat behind the desk and I realised he was the interrogator. My father winked at me but didn’t say anything. “I’m Captain Shadi,” said the man behind the desk. “Why did you throw stones?” he asked me. “I didn’t,” I said. “So who did?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I said. “Sure you know the children in the neighbourhood,” he said. “I know all of them but I’m not going to say anything,” I said. “This time I won’t put you in prison, but next time I will and I’ll make you pay money too,” he said. “I didn’t throw stones so you can’t put me in prison,” I said. “OK, shut up now,” he said. I then became quiet and Captain Shadi spoke to my father. “Your son is still young, he should focus on his studies or he’ll be joining his brothers in prison.” “He‟s here if you want to put him in prison,” my father said. “I’ll do that when I want, not when you want,” Shadi replied. He then untied me and I went home with my father.‟
Under Israeli domestic law which is applied by the Israeli authorities to occupied East Jerusalem, the minimum age of criminal responsibility is 12 years, and a child below the age of 14 is not eligible to receive a custodial sentence.