13 January 2006

Belfast-bound teenager gets 10 years

Daily Ireland

Youth arrested en route to Belfast jailed

Pádraig Ó Meiscill

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Click to view - Balata drama group

A Palestinian teenager who was detained on his way to Belfast last July has been sentenced to ten years imprisonment by an Israeli military court.
Muhammad Sameeh (16) was travelling with the Balata drama group to perform at West Belfast’s Féile An Phobail when he was arrested by Israeli soldiers at the Jordanian border crossing.
Muhammad is being held at Telemond prison along with other Palestinian children in a jail which also houses Israeli criminals.
The drama group’s performance in Belfast was part of a world premiere tour of their play recounting the experiences of Palestinian refugees.
After spending two months and seven days under interrogation, Muhammad was charged with ‘assisting terrorism’ and was sentenced on December 28. Abu Hakeem, co-ordinator of the Balata group, recalled the day Muhammad was detained.
“At the border he was told to go to the Israeli intelligence services. After one hour the soldiers told him to take his stuff. After that he disappeared out of our eyes,” he said.
Eoin Murray of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign said he was not surprised at the decision of the Israeli court.
“The Israeli state has no particular interest in the rights of Palestinian children. Since the Intifada began one-third of the victims of Israeli state violence have been children. This particular incident would seem to be a reflection on their wider policies.”

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