A Turkish rights group is demanding the immediate release of Fawzi al-Juneidi, a 16-year-old Palestinian whose photo of being dragged away blindfolded by several Israeli soldiers has become a symbol of Jerusalem protests.
"We demand al-Juneidi's immediate release," the Human Rights and Justice Movement (İHAK), an Istanbul-based NGO, said in a Tuesday press release.
It called for "all countries party to the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of the Children, as well as all international organizations and all state and civil human rights organizations, child rights organizations and everyone with a conscience" to ensure Juneidi's immediate release.
The group said Israel systematically detains and arrests Palestinian children, putting the number of detentions and arrests at 2,634 in 2015, 887 in 2016 and 700 in 2017 so far. The arrested Palestinian children are tried in military courts in Israel, it added.
"Palestinian children detained and arrested by Israel are subjected to various forms of torture and cruel treatment, such as blindfolding and physical violence in the form of handcuffing, beating, starving, swearing and insults, threatening them with their mothers being hurt, harassment, being forced to sign paperwork in Hebrew, and psychological pressure," iHAK said.
Juneidi was detained by Israeli soldiers last Thursday when he was passing near them during protests condemning U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
According to the photographer who took the now-iconic photo, Wesam al-Hashlamon, Juneidi was violently beaten by scores of Israeli soldiers.
As the eldest of seven siblings, Juneidi has been working since a young age to look after his bedridden father and terminally-ill mother.
Protests have been staged across the occupied Palestinian lands following Trump's decision on Jerusalem. Israeli security forces killed two Palestinians and injured several hundred during the demonstrations.
According to Palestine's official statistics agency, 14 Palestinian children have been killed this year by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, the Turkey-based International Downs Syndrome Federation (UDF) on Tuesday denounced the arrest of a Palestinian teenager by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank's Al-Khalil district.
Mohamed al-Taweel, 14, who is affected by Downs syndrome, was arrested on Friday during protests against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Speaking at a meeting in Istanbul, Muhammed Abdullah Tuncay, the federation's head, said that pictures of the arrest, which went viral on the Internet, portrayed "the end of humanity."
"Rude behavior shown to a young boy with Downs syndrome, to our son, and his arrest is actually a country's insult to humanity," Tuncay said. Tuncay added that he had contacted the Palestinian Embassy in Ankara for information about the boy.
"The child is in custody [of Israeli soldiers]," he said, adding that the embassy will keep them updated. He said the foundation would bring the boy and his family to Istanbul and provide them with psychological and social support. They will campaign for his release, he said, adding that he hoped Israeli soldiers and authorities would apologize for their mistake.
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