January 16, 2008
The American Consulate
American Citizens Services Section
Special Consular Services
Attn: Nili Weinfeld
Dear Ms. Weinfeld,
My name is Y. and I am an American citizen. My daughter X, who is 14 years old, is also an American citizen.
On December 25, 2007, she was detained with some other girls and boys her age for being in an old abandoned building not far from her home. Since then she has been incarcerated in a women’s prison for serious criminal offenders and I have not been allowed to see her. I have been allowed to speak with her by telephone only three times for one or two minutes each. At the time of her detention and arrest she was seriously abused, and has been denied her civil and legal rights during her time in prison.
The facts are as follows: She, along with 6 other girls and 8 other boys were pulled by the army and police out of an old and long abandoned building. They were taken to the police station in Sha’ar Binyamin and told to give their names and then they could go home. The boys did so and went home, and the girls refused, saying that they didn't do anything wrong. At this point they were formally arrested and also underwent serious physical and emotional abuse. I don't want to go into details about what they were subjected to in this letter, but it is profoundly outrageous and shocking.
Having spent the night at the police station, they were taken the next morning before a judge. Because they still refused to identify themselves they were sent back to prison on the pretext that the police couldn't conclude their investigation until the girls identified themselves. This, of course, is nonsense since the police have known perfectly well who the girls are from the very first night.
Every few days, X and the other girls are brought before a judge and then sent back to prison not a detention center for minors but to Neve Tirza, a prison for hardened and violent criminals. Neither I nor any of the other parents have been allowed to be present at these hearing and to get a glimpse of our daughters on the pretext that since the girls wouldn't identify themselves, the authorities couldn't confirm that we were indeed the parents. The cruelty with which these children have been treated defies belief.
After two weeks of this they were finally charged: with trespassing (an offense that requires prior knowledge and intent, although no one in the area is aware of this old abandoned building belonging to anyone).
Although convicted murderers are allowed daily hour-long phone calls and weekly visits with families, until recently and only then due to massive public pressure, the girls weren't allowed to speak to their parents at all much less see them. In the past week and a half, X’s been allowed to phone me three times, but even then, she’s only allowed to speak for a minute or two, with the guards yelling in the background to just say hello and then hang up the phone.
My X is a little girl, a good and idealistic and very innocent girl who has never done anything wrong, and who is being bullied and intimidated and abused by a legal system that affords more rights and consideration to adults convicted of murder than it has to her.
I am naturally very concerned for her welfare and very afraid about the emotional and psychic damage that has been inflicted on her. However, X also has health issues that make the conditions of her incarceration worrisome. She was seriously burned as a baby and since then has had to undergo multiple yearly skin operations. Good hygiene and staying out of the sun without her special creams are crucial for her health.
I would deeply appreciate it if the consulate could advocate for X and demand that the abuse of her civil and human rights stop and that this ugly persecution of an innocent child come to an end immediately.
I will eagerly await your reply. If you need any further information, please don't hesitate to call.
(Thanks to Women In Green for sending this letter)
Our thoughts and prayers are with our sisters and with their families. We are moved by the impassioned plea of Y. (the mother of X.).
The U. S> government sees your daughter, along with all of us who live in Yehudah and Shomron as thorns in its side. Her civil and human rights are irrelevant, as long as she and her friends stand in the way of the American vision of "peace." Peace for whom, I do not know. As we all know, the U. S. government, even the Bush administration which many hold to be Israel's greatest ally, has repeatedly complained to Israel about the rights of Arab squatters, and has all but ignored the the Jewish blood spilled.
The U. S. government has been blinded by its addiction to Arab oil, its complicity with the United Nations, or its traditionally anti-Israel State Department, or all of the above.
Y., our hearts go out to you, but don't hold your breath.