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Over 350 Children Are Detained by Israel Without Trial — the Hostage Deal Could Free Them

Over 350 Children Are Detained by Israel Without Trial — the Hostage Deal Could Free Them
Marwan hamouu / Shutterstock

Palestine, Gaza - March,1,2023: Children gather near a destroyed building following an Israeli air strike, in the central Gaza Strip.

The charges on which Israel detains Palestinian children without trial most commonly include throwing stones and “harming regional security.”

Video Source: Advocate Channel

(CNN) — Nearly seven weeks into the war, Israel and Hamas have agreed on a deal that would see the return of 150 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails in exchange for the release of at least 50 hostages held in Gaza, during a four-day pause in fighting.

The Palestinian prisoners concerned are women and children, Hamas said Wednesday, adding that the agreement also involves the entry of hundreds of trucks carrying aid relief, medical supplies, and fuel to all parts of the besieged territory.

The Israeli government on Wednesday published a list of 300 Palestinian prisoners for possible release, as Israel is offering a potential second phase of exchanges.

The list includes the ages of the prisoners, and the charges on which they are being held – throwing stones and “harming regional security” are among the most common.

Some of the people are listed as being members of Hamas and other Islamic militant groups, but many of the prisoners are not listed as belonging to any organization.

Most of the Palestinian prisoners listed as eligible for release are male children aged 16 to 18, although a handful are as young as 14. Some 33 are women, according to a CNN count.

Around 8,300 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in Israeli jails, said Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Commission for Detainees and Ex-Prisoners’ Affairs.

More than 3,000 of them are being held in what Israel calls “administrative detention,” Fares told CNN, adding that this means they are being held without knowing the charges against them, and without an ongoing legal process.

Most of the prisoners are men, Fares said, adding that there are also about 85 women and 350 children in detention.

Israel has stepped up its arrests since Hamas’ attacks on October 7. Up to 2,070 arrests were documented in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem in that month alone, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, a non-governmental organization dedicated to addressing the concerns of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons. That figure includes 145 children and 55 women.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh claimed to Reuters last week that Israel had been ramping up arrests ahead of a hostage deal. “Israel is preparing for an exchange of prisoners, and they are arresting as many people as they can simply because they are preparing for such a deal,” Shtayyeh said.

Wednesday’s diplomatic breakthrough offers a glimmer of hope for the families of Palestinian prisoners, as well as those of Israeli hostages.

Hamas is holding 236 hostages in Gaza, including foreign nationals from 26 countries, according to the latest figures from the Israeli military.

Four hostages were freed prior to the deal – two American women and two Israeli women. An Israeli soldier who was abducted by Hamas was rescued by Israeli forces, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said.

While the first phase of the deal includes the release of 150 prisoners in four stages over four days, the Israeli Cabinet Secretariat said, more Palestinians could potentially be released from the list of 300 detainees, in exchange for at least 10 Israeli abductees being handed over to Israeli security forces each day.

Israel said there would be a lull in the fighting during those four days under the deal.

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