The Palestinian Girl in Israeli Jail


On the afternoon of 26 July 2012, a 17 year-old Palestinian girl named Hadīl Abū Turkī walked into a routine security checkpoint at the entrance to the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. Accounts differ as to what happened inside. But seconds later, a contributor to Mondoweiss reported witnessing a sobbing Israeli soldier rushing away from the scene, apparently to rinse pepper spray from her eyes. The witness also saw:

a small group of Israeli border policemen dragging a screaming young Palestinian woman through a gate between the two zones. The policemen slammed her body against the exterior wall of a nearby trailer—possibly an accident—before forcing her inside. The woman continued to scream, apparently in pain and fear, as the officers held her on the trailer’s floor with her arms behind her back.

In February 2013, Hadīl’s mother gave an interview to Ahrar, a Palestinian prisoners’ rights organization. In the interview, she said that Hadīl was intimately familiar with the Israeli security establishment in the West Bank. At age 14, she had spent a month in HaSharon prison after being detained with an older sister in Hebron’s Old City. And at 15, Hadīl had served two months imprisonment on charges of plotting to attack an Israeli soldier.

In March 2013, the Palestinian news website al-Quds reported that Hadīl had been sentenced to one year in prison. As of February 2013, according to the Detention Bulletin published by the Palestine Section of Defense for Children International, she was the only Palestinian girl in Israeli prison.

Whether or not Hadīl plotted to attack an Israeli soldier, or did so spontaneously, the incident is a case study of Israel’s security control over the West Bank. Hadīl’s previous encounters with the Israeli military-justice apparatus had stymied her prospects of social advancement. After two detentions in a facility that, the Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer had reported, had no organized education program for Palestinian children, Hadīl had dropped out of school. And experiences of arrest and trial had left the girl frightened of and angered at the Israeli soldiers in her hometown.

The Mondoweiss contributor who witnessed Hadīl’s arrest argued that the case demonstrated the legal double standard for Israeli and Palestinian violence in the West Bank. The girl was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment for assaulting an Israeli soldier, but the soldiers who employed unjustifiable violence in arresting her have not been publicly disciplined. Hadīl Abū Turki may be the only Palestinian girl in Israeli jail, but her experience is far from anomalous.