'A child's place is not in a prison'

Hisham wears a picture of his son

Mohammad was arrested and sent to prison when he was 15 years old. His father Hisham wears a picture of his son in a medal that Mohammad won playing sports, his favourite hobby. Hisham says:

“A child’s place is not in a prison. A child’s place is the playground, in the school, so who knows how a child will turn out in the future after living through all that. How will it be for a child that sits for seven months between four walls?”

 

Hisham speaking

Nearly every Palestinian family in the West Bank has a family member currently in prison or who has been. Hisham’s own experiences in prison make him fear for his son:

“He will have lived through horrible things. The occupation won’t be gentle for anyone whether it's children, men or women.”
 

a sign for Jalazon Refugee Camp

Hisham and Mohammad live in Jalazon Refugee Camp, in the shadow of Beit El, one of the hundreds of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Aside from housing settlers, Beit El is also the site of an Israeli military base where detainees are held before being moved to other prisons and detention centres.
 

Israeli soldiers and a Palestinian demonstration

The Israeli military invades Jalazon regularly. This prompts demonstrations where children are often arrested, accused of throwing stones. Mohammad was arrested after one such demonstration, sentenced to 7 months in prison and a fine. Mohammad's uncle Shadi says:

“The sentence is just to intimidate him so that he will not get involved in anything in the future. Every time he speaks he will now stop and think about every word in case it will get him back in prison."

Cracks in the wall above the door

The soldiers damaged the family home when they came to arrest Mohammad. Hisham says:

“They came at night time and smashed the house up around us. First they blew up the door to enter our house. Then they demanded our ID cards. Then they told Mohammad to get himself ready because they were arresting him."

Pictures on the wall of a child's room

On the back of Mohammad’s bedroom door, a poster commemorates a friend shot and killed by Israeli forces a few years earlier.

Mohammad's brothers

Mohammad’s two younger brothers, Yusef and Ahmad, saw their brother arrested by more than 20 soldiers and taken from their home in the middle of the night. Yusef and Ahmad miss playing and wrestling with their brother.

“We miss everything about him. We want him to come home.”