Why has Hamas taken Israeli hostages?

Approximately 20% of Palestinians have been apprehended and prosecuted under a web of 1,600 military directives that dictate every facet of their existence.

IN golf carts, vans and on motorbikes, Hamas fighters have taken dozens of Israeli civilians and soldiers back to the Gaza Strip after their attack on Israel on Saturday.

Israel’s detention and incarceration of Palestinians, including children, is a complex and contentious issue. Here is a breakdown of some key information:

The number of Palestinians who have been arrested and charged under Israeli military orders that control various aspects of their lives is significant. Approximately one in every five Palestinians has been subjected to these arrests and charges, which are part of a system that regulates daily life under Israeli military occupation.

A Palestinian youth is arrested by an Israeli border police officer [Ammar Awad/Reuters]

Since 1967, when Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, it has arrested an estimated one million Palestinians, according to a United Nations report. This includes both men and women, but the incarceration rate is notably higher for Palestinian men, with two in every five having been arrested.

Comparatively, in the United States, known for its significant prison population, the imprisonment rate is much lower, with one in 200 people incarcerated. However, among Black Americans, the imprisonment rate is over three times the overall rate.

Currently, there are 5,200 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, including 33 women and 170 children. These prisoners, if brought to trial, are prosecuted in military courts.

The large number of prisoners can be attributed to various factors, including the issuance of Military Order 101 shortly after Israel’s occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories in the 1967 war. This order criminalized civic activities and actions considered as “hostile propaganda and prohibition of incitement.” It effectively restricted political and civil activities such as protests, distribution of political materials, and the display of political symbols.

Another order, Military Order 378, established military courts and classified various forms of Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation as “terrorism.” Subsequently, numerous other military orders have been issued to suppress Palestinian civic and political expression.

There are 19 prisons within Israel and one in the occupied West Bank that detain Palestinian prisoners. The transfer of prisoners from occupied territories to the territory of the occupying power is considered a violation of international law under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Administrative detention is another practice employed by Israel, affecting 1,264 Palestinian detainees. Administrative detainees are held indefinitely without trial or formal charges based on “secret evidence.” This practice has faced criticism for its denial of due process.

In addition to adult detainees, Palestinian children have also been arrested by Israeli forces. Since the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000, more than 12,000 Palestinian children have been detained by Israeli forces. Every year, at least 700 Palestinian children under the age of 18 from the occupied West Bank are prosecuted through Israeli military courts after being arrested, interrogated, and detained. Charges often include throwing stones, with a maximum punishment of 20 years.

These child detainees face physical and psychological torture, are interrogated without the presence of a parent or lawyer, and may be coerced into becoming informants. Israel’s detention of children has been widely criticized as a form of collective punishment.

Various Israeli military orders have been used against Palestinian children, including orders allowing for extended preventative detention, stipulating audiovisual recording of interrogations, and trying children as adults. Additionally, Israel has changed its law to allow the prosecution of children under the age of 14, contrary to international standards.

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