Palestinian children from Lajee dance troupe face military prosecution
The Lajee centre in Aida refugee camp has seen an alarming number of attacks on it recently. Sheffield Kairos community, who hosted the group earlier this year have issued a press release and call to action on behalf of several children from the centre who have been arrested.
The Lajee centre and Medical Aid for Palestinians were the two recipients of the crowd-funding appeal which launched when Celtic football fans opposed a game with Israel earlier this year. Over £170,000 was raised to support the two organisations.
Israeli military attacks on the Lajee centre have escalated since then, something commonly seen when solidarity with a Palestinian organisation or community is shown.
Young people from the Lajee centre visited Sheffield earlier this year, and the Kairos group in Sheffield have written the following press release following these attacks, and the arrest of 3 children from the centre.
Palestinian Children who visited Sheffield face military court
On 9th July this summer, over a hundred people saw at Sheffield’s Broomhall Centre a performance by 20 Palestinian teenagers, from Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem.. The previous day, Sheffield’s Deputy Mayor had welcomed the group, the Lajee Dance Troupe, at the Town Hall. On Wednesday, October 5th, three of the 14-year-old dancers, Mustafa Bdair, Mo’taz Barak’ah and Omar Radi were arrested by masked Israeli soldiers.
Attacks by the Israeli army on the Lajee centre have escalated since Celtic football fans raised over £170,000 divided between Medical Aid for Palestine and the Lajee Centre in Aida Camp. These night raids by Israeli soldiers fit into a pattern of reprisals that have followed international gestures of solidarity with the Centre under an Israeli military occupation that the UK and other governments consider to be illegal.
Israeli soldiers attacked the Lajee Centre with teargas and rubber bullets on 19 Sept while the children were inside. The following night they forced open the gate of the centre, threw teargas grenades inside and closed the gate, trapping the children inside, forcing them to inhale toxic teargas.
Mutaz, Mustafa and Omar have been released on bail but will be tried by an Israeli military court where defendants are routinely found guilty. In total, 440 children under 18 are currently held in military detention almost two-and-half times the number imprisoned a year ago. According to the Defense for Children International–Palestine (DCIP), no other country in the world systematically prosecutes hundreds of children in military courts each year.
Kairos Sheffield, an interdenominational network of Christians in Sheffield, urges Sheffield MPs to call on the Foreign Office to condemn the Israeli government’s campaign of intimidation against the Lajee Centre and to press for the dropping of the charges against the children.
For further information:
on behalf of Kairos Sheffield
If you would like to take action on this issue, then please write to your MP using the information in the press release, or contact us if you need further guidance.