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Illustrators Draw Arrests

In 2021 we launched an 8-month campaign called: “Illustrators Draw Arrests”

Eight Israeli illustrators responded to our call and each chose to create a unique illustration to accompany of the 8 stages that thousands of Palestinian children go through during their detention.

Most children are arrested in the middle of the night and begin a long process that includes: handcuffing, blindfolding, physical and verbal violence, harsh interrogation and legal proceedings which do not meet any standards of a fair trial, especially towards minors, exclusion of parents or legal counsel and in almost all cases include detention until the end of proceedings.

All of these practices are contrary to the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on Political and Civil Rights and of course Israeli law.

As part of the campaign, we divided the different stages – into eight parts, each of which describes another stage in the process and over the course of 8 months we released an illustration accompanied by facts and details and organised a public event to focus on the stage that month

We called the campaign: “Illustrators Draw Arrests – A Nightmare in Eight Stages”.

First Stage: Night-time Intrusion and Arrest

About 68% of all arrests concerning minors occur between midnight and five in the morning. It begins with the army suddenly breaking down the door to the family home and bursting inside. The sleeping household is awoken and is separated into different rooms, increasing the panic. The conduct of the soldiers inside the house accompanies aggressive shouting, cursing, and threats. The soldiers are armed and often point their weapons at the family members to scare them. The wanted youth is taken sometimes without proper clothing, a coat, or a sweater.

The first illustration released this month is by Ruth Gwily and illustrates the first step in detention: Homes broken into in the dead of night and children arrested in their beds.

Gwily, is an Israeli illustrator whose illustrations have been published in Israel and abroad in publications such as Haaretz, The New Yorker and The New York Times.

Second Stage: Handcuffs and Blindfolds

When the soldiers take the youth from his home or pick him up in the street or at school, they handcuff him and blindfold him with a piece of cloth.  They take him in an army jeep to a military base or a police station, where he is interrogated. Being handcuffed behind the back is very painful and restricts movement so that the boy cannot drink or even urinate. Blindfolding, like the loss of the sense of time, makes the boy disoriented and very anxious, so he arrives for questioning confused, not knowing where they have taken him or how much time has passed.

The illustration that represents this stage in the arrest process was drawn by the super talented artist Merav Salomon.

Merav Salomon is an illustrator, print artist, professor of illustration at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and the founder of the Salomon & Daughters books.

Third Stage – Where are the Children?

The parents of arrested children are left in the dark, no one provides information about where the child was taken, for how long, and when they will be able to see the minor.

The damage to the family relationships and parental authority deprives the children of the sense of protection that parents strive to give their children and stay with the family long after the arrest.

In addition, the child generally goes through a very lengthy legal process from which the parents are excluded. In most cases, the first time the parents will see their child will be at the hearing in the Ofer military court, but there is no physical contact or personal conversation allowed.   If the child remains in custody, the parents must apply to the regional administrator for a permit to visit him, which can sometimes take weeks or even months

This illustration t was designed by Itai Raveh, illustrator and graphic designer, a graduate of the Department of Visual Communication at Shenkar. The illustration expresses the helplessness of the parents, the horror and their cry in the dark.

Fourth Stage – Preventing Legal Counsel

Legal advice before being questioned is perhaps the most important and critical advice in any legal proceedings. A youth who does not receive legal advice before being questioned does not know what to expect, is unaware of his rights, and how he should conduct himself in the interrogation. The lack of legal representation has an impact on the whole process, irrespective of whether the accused is guilty of what he is charged with. Therefore preventing effective legal consultation before the interrogation is a blatant and serious breach of the accused’s rights, particularly in the case of minors.  

Sometimes the investigators allow the accused a short telephone conversation that does not fulfil the purposes of legal consultation.

This illustration was illustrated by Orit Bergman. Bergman writes and illustrates children’s books, adapts her stories to the theatre and frequently meets children across the country. Her books were published in Israel, France, China and the USA. Bergman studied at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem where she now heads the illustration studies.

Fifth Stage – The Interrogation

Interrogation by police investigators or GSS investigators is a serious and traumatic event for anyone, and even more so for youths. Numerous testimonies show that severe mental pressure is exerted, in particular by employing threats.

The investigators threaten the child that they will not allow his parents or other family members to earn a living, get a work permit or get medical treatment. Apart from threats, they use various lies to change the course of the interrogation, for example, that the subject has already been incriminated by his friends or that his DNA was found at the scene of the incident.  Many youths talk about physical and verbal violence, sexual harassment, and humiliation.

The illustration was drawn by Hanan Kaminsky. Kaminsky, a creator and director of international animated films, founded and served as the head of the animation program at the Bezalel school of art, and today heads the master’s degree program in integrated design at the Holon Institute of Technology HIT.

Sixth Stage: Hearing in the Military Court

In 2009 Military Youth Courts were established, but they still do not provide a fair and suitable solution for young people. The military courts do not discuss the arrest procedure of children and usually approve extending custody until the end of proceedings. The judges and prosecutors wear army uniforms, translations are poor, punishments are severe and usually include imprisonment with no alternatives.

“The Military Youth Court is a new innovation, used primarily to satisfy international concern and is a public relations marketing ploy and has nothing to do with overseeing the protection of children’s rights. The court does not adhere to the central principle of the Treaty of the Rights of the Child, whereby a child should only be arrested as a last resort, for a very short period of time, and only when there is no less harmful alternative” (Dr. Adv. Smadar Ben Natan, military courts investigator and member of the steering committee of the “Parents Against Child Arrests” group).

This illustration is by Marina Gerchanik, an artist, sketching workshop instructor, a graduate of the Minsk College of Art

Seventh Stage – Remanded until end of Proceedings

International law dealing with human rights includes provisions stating that children must not be held in custody during the legal proceedings against them. If there is a need to arrest them, they should be held for the shortest time required and only as a last resort. 

Custody until the end of proceedings must be based on a decision that is reasonable and necessary in the specific circumstances, for purposes such as preventing absconding, interfering with evidence, or preventing further offences.

In opposition to this, the Military Youth Court has ruled time and again that an absolute majority of the children brought before it must remain in custody until the end of the proceedings, irrespective of the circumstances, the severity of the offences, their mental or physical state, or the real danger they pose to the public.

This policy is completely contrary to the International Treaty on the Rights of the Child and to the spirit of the Youth Law (Judgement, Punishment, and Ways of Handling) 1971 that applies in Israel. In 88% of the cases documented by MCW during 2019, the children brought before the Military Court were kept in custody until the end of proceedings, by comparison with children within Israel, of whom only 18% were kept in custody until the end of proceedings by the Military Youth Court.

Demonstrating this cruel act is a beautiful yet painful illustration that was drawn for us by Romi Album. Album is an illustrator and visual artist. She has a career creating wonderful illustrations for various children’s books and magazines and works as a freelance exhibitor and illustrator.

Stage Eighth – The Mental Effects of Imprisonment on Children

“In the course of being arrested and held in custody, Palestinian minors experience disorientation, pain, fear, shame, guilt, and helplessness. In several cases, they feel genuine fear for the welfare of their families and even for their own lives because of severe threats. They are also exposed to the helplessness and fear of those around them, including their parents. Traumatic experiences accompanied by difficult experiences of loneliness, fear, vulnerability, loss of control, and a sense of doom do serious damage to their ability to adjust to normative life and their basic sense of confidence.

After their release, many youths report severe post-traumatic symptoms such as sleep disorders, nightmares, bed-wetting, over-alertness, irritability, concentration difficulties, nagging thoughts, and flashbacks. Many of them are unable to return to their studies after their arrest and imprisonment.

Such experiences, barely with basic human relations, can destroy feelings of self-worth and trust in others, even leading to alienation and inability to relate to others. The youths are likely to drop out of the education system and social frameworks, abandoning the path to a healthy and productive life. In addition, the practices of arrests of minors have a destructive impact on their families and the whole community. The destruction of the fabric of family and social life magnifies the damaging effects on the youths themselves.”

(From an opinion by professionals in the field of mental health prepared for “Parents Against Child Arrests”)

The eighth illustration was drawn by Itzik Rennert, a comic artist who was until recently the head of the visual communication department at Shenkar and head of the master’s degree in design at Shenkar.