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Marda village council introduced IWPS to five local youths, aged 14 to 16, who were arrested by Israeli forces in November 2004 and imprisoned for several months without charge. Two more were still in jail when we met these five. Israel has no juvenile courts for Palestinian children, whom they hold as young as 12 years old and try as adults after age 14 in violation of international law.

The kids stood up, clinging to each other, embarrassed to be at the center of attention. They looked like kids you’d see anywhere, still full of life and excitement. But they were also worn, with scars on their faces and a little more experience in their eyes than their peers have.

The representative told us of the distress the young prisoners’ parents had gone through while their children were gone, wondering if they would ever see them again. According to Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association, over 2,500 Palestinian children have been arrested since September 2000, and at least 340 are currently being held in Israeli prisons.