Ahmed's interrogation 'symbolic' of the oppression of Palestinian children

Ahmed's interrogation 'symbolic' of the oppression of Palestinian children
Blog: After a video of a Palestinian child lying injured while Israeli settlers insulted him went viral, new footage has emerged of his interrogation by Israeli security forces.
4 min read
11 Nov, 2015
Ahmed Manasra is one of hundreds of Palestinian children detained this year [AFP]
A video emerged this week showing Israeli security personnel interrogating a 13-year-old Palestinian child named Ahmed Manasra.  

Ahmed found himself at the centre of a storm of controversy when a video of him lying bleeding - while Israeli settlers yelled abuse at him - went viral.

Following the video, Israel alleged that Ahmed and his cousin, Hassan, who was shot dead at the scene, were attempting to stab Israelis living in Jewish-only settlements built on occupied Palestinian land deemed illegal under international law.

Ahmed's pain, caught on camera, led to him being dubbed as a symbol of the oppression of Palestinian children.

The latest video depicts two Israeli interrogators questioning the child about the events surrounding the alleged stabbing attack on settlers.

"I'm going to show you a video that proves you're lying. Shut up," one interrogator says.

     Ahmed's father believes that the airing of the tape is an Israeli attempt to 'intimidate others and spread fear in their hearts'
A visibly confused Manasra doesn't get a chance to respond.

"Shut up! You are a liar! After you stabbed them, you ran after them holding a knife like this!" the interrogator accuses.

The video has deeply distressed Ahmed's family, who reside in Jerusalem.

"It was the first time that we saw him in the interrogation room. It was surprising and shocking to us. His mother collapsed viewing it," Ahmed's father told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

"She couldn't tolerate seeing what was happening, so we turned off the TV so she couldn't see what was happening to her son. It doesn't seem like he remembers a thing, and doesn't remember what happened to him."

Ahmed, handcuffed in hospital [Getty]
In the tape, Ahmed says that he couldn't recall any of the events on that day, and that he "only believed it happened" when he saw the footage.

"I don't remember, not one thing. For God's sake believe me," Ahmed pleads in the footage. "I woke up the next day at four am. There was a blow to my head. I don't remember! What is happening to me?"

Ahmed's father believes that the leaking and broadcast of the tape is an Israeli attempt to "intimidate others and spread fear in their hearts".

Ahmed's family has visited him in HaSharon prison, between Netanya and Tel Aviv. His father said that he "looked gaunt and had nine stitches in his head" from the injuries he sustained during his run-in with the Israeli police.

He said that his son complained of "violent pressure" from the prison guards, including death threats, and ill-treatment during detention.

Osama Saadi, an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset, told al-Araby that the latest footage was one of four videos that have come to light documenting Manasra's ill-treatment.

The first was the infamous video of Ahmed lying on the ground bleeding, the second showed him handcuffed to the bed in hospital, another in court, and the latest video of his interrogation.

Saadi agrees with the boy's father that "the aim of the leaks is to send a message of intimidation and scare the children, that your fate will be like the fate of Ahmed - that this is the fate that awaits you in the interrogation room".

Graphic: The footage of Ahmed injured,
and the latest leaked video of his interrogation
[Ma'an News Agency]
According to Saadi, Arabs in the Israeli parliament have directed an urgent message to the legal advisor, Yehuda Feinstein, and the minister of internal security, Gilad Ardenne, to hold an interior committee meeting to investigate the content of the tapes.

"We are in contact with all concerned, including the bar and human rights associations, and we must take extraordinary steps to counter this dangerous escalation, and the repeated and systematic Israeli violations against children," Saadi said.

On Tuesday, the Israeli central court postponed Ahmed's trial, on the accusation of stabbing settlers, to 26 November.

Tariq Bourghout, Ahmed's lawyer, said that "the decision to postpone was expected" and accused the Israeli court of procrastinating in issuing the ruling in order to be able to extend his detention.

However, he expressed optimism about the possibility of the case being dropped before the next court hearing.  

Bourghout described his client as a symbol, representing the suffering of every Palestinian child.

"We have to convey the voice of Ahmed and his cry to the world - which views Israel as the oasis of democracy in the region," he said, adding that the video should form part of the evidence submitted to the International Criminal Court.

Amjad Abu Assab, head of the Committee of the Families of Prisoners in Jerusalem, also views Ahmed as a symbol, "reflecting the suffering, aches and pains of around 650 [Palestinian] children, who have been detained since the beginning of this year", noting the death of 13-year old Mohammed abu Khudair in Israeli custody in July 2014.

Since July last year, six children have been killed in Jerusalem in addition to Ahmed's cousin, Hassan.