On Friday evening, we went to interview a family in the nearby village of Hares where three boys, two brothers and a cousin aged between 13 and 17, were taken away by the army the previous day. The whole family were there when we arrived.
They told us that the army came in through the front door, which was open, and took the boys away blindfolded and without their shoes, in the middle of the day. The soldiers didn’t ask for the boys by name and from what we were told, it seems as if they were selected at random from among the boys who were in the house at the time.
When we saw them, no-one had been in touch with their parents to tell them where they were being held. Fatima, an English teacher and mother of two of the boys, was desperate. She told us, ‘We just want to know where they are, what happened to them, were they hit….. we can’t cook, can’t eat….we are afraid. I can’t sleep. We sit and wait.’ The boys’ grandmother had been crying all day.
Their uncle, who was there at the time they were taken and who was hit by the soldiers, told us that all the children were very afraid and were clinging to him from fear. All the children slept in their parents’ room overnight. ”You must tell the world what is happening here.’ He said. ‘This is terror.’
The next day I sit with Jo, another IWPS volunteer, and call everyone we can think of to try and find out where the boys might be. The army tell us to try the police, the police tell us to try the army. It doesn’t help that this is the sabbath and the start of the passover holiday, so many NGOs who would normally be able to help can’t be contacted.
It’s several days before we find out that the boys have been taken to Megiddo prison inside Israel. This is the prison where 30 year old Palestinian Arafat Jaradat died recently under mysterious circumstances, making international headlines.