8,000 West Bank children arrested since 2000,
Recent estimates have found that Israel arrests and detains about 700 Palestinian children annually. This reality has forced Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, to develop programs that address the widespread trauma these children exhibit when released from prison.
Founded in 1989, shortly after the start of the first Palestinian intifada, the East Jerusalem YMCA rehabilitation program is one such. It rests on three tracks — psycho-social support, empowerment, and reintegration. It aims to get ex-detainee children back into school, or into work training programs.
According to program director Nader Abu Amsha, a major focus is placed on giving children the coping mechanisms necessary to avoid constantly reliving their trauma once they are released from prison. "We are trying our best to help not just in therapy, but in building the coping mechanism and in helping people maintain their resilience ability to these traumatic experiences.
Save the Children and the East Jerusalem YMCA Rehabilitation Program released a report on 11 March about the impact of Israeli arrests and detention on Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation. The organizations estimate that since 2000, Israel has arrested and detained over 8,000 Palestinian children in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including some as young as 12.
Handcuffed and blindfolded, the children — who are most often arrested on suspicion of throwing stones — are transported to either Israeli prisons or settlements in the West Bank for interrogation, which almost always take place without the children's parents or a lawyer present, the report stated.
The report also found that nearly all children (98 percent) were subjected to physical or psychological violence during their arrest and detention, and that 90 percent of children suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), experiencing nightmares, bed-wetting, anxiety and other signs of trauma upon their release.