On 15 Nov. 2013, the weekly Kafr Qadum protest against the closure of the road connecting the village to Nablus took place. Before it started, tires were set on fire on the road, and 4 children played with them. Soldiers detained the four, ages 6 to 9, handcuffed the 3 older ones and threatened them with arrest if caught again. The soldiers released the children a few minutes later. The age of criminal responsibility In the Occupied Territories is 12. Law enforcement officials are prohibited from detaining or arresting children under this age. B'Tselem contacted the military demanding to clarify the legal requirements to soldiers operating on the ground.
Detainees & prisoners
On 22 July 2013, the Israeli military's Legal Advisor in Judea and Samaria responded to B'Tselem's letter regarding the grave incident in which soldiers detained a five-year-old boy in Hebron for two hours, after he threw a stone. In his letter, the legal advisor addressed the general issue of soldiers having to deal with a complex reality in which children under the age of criminal responsibility throw stones. Regarding the detention of Wadi' Maswadeh, the advisor justified the soldiers' conduct. B'Tselem sent a reply, emphasizing that the soldiers had acted in a fundamentally unacceptable way throughout the incident, and that acknowledging the complexity of the reality in which they operate cannot justify blatantly unlawful violation of children's rights and harm to their welfare.
On Sunday, 21 July 2013, B’Tselem camera volunteer Raed Abu Ermeileh filmed video footage of a police officer slapping a detainee, who appeared to be a minor. He slapped the detainee several times on the nape of the neck, while leading him out of a Hebron police station. The detainee was put inside a vehicle parked outside the station, three police officers got in, and the vehicle drove off. Its many attempts notwithstanding, B’Tselem has been unable to identify the detainee.
B'Tselem has written urgently to the Legal Adviser in Judea and Samaria, demanding his response to a grave incident in which soldiers detained a five-year-old boy in Hebron for two hours, after he threw a stone. The soldiers threatened the child and his parents, handcuffed and blindfolded the father, and handed the boy over to the Palestinian Police. Detaining a child below the age of criminal responsibility, especially one so young, has no legal justification.
The military court trial of Nariman a-Tamimi and Rana Hamadah, two Palestinian women arrested at a non-violent demonstration in a-Nabi Saleh, will begin on 9 July 2013. This legal action is unprecedented, as there is no charge of violence. Moreover, the prosecution acknowledged it wishes to prevent the women from demonstrating – unacceptable grounds for arrest. B’Tselem: “The military prosecution’s handling of the matter, and particularly its unprecedented request to remand non-violent demonstrators for the duration of legal proceedings, raises the suspicion that the military might be exploiting these proceedings to keep Nariman a-Tamimi from carrying on her joint activity with her husband, Bassem, in a-Nabi Saleh’s struggle against the village being dispossessed of its land.”
On Sunday, 26 May 2013, the military came to the home of the ‘Awads in Budrus to arrest ‘Abd a-Rahim ‘Awad. A younger son, Samir, had been killed by Israeli soldiers in January. In the course of the arrest, soldiers used force against ‘Abd a-Rahim and his family. The military stated that the family had violently resisted the arrest and that the soldiers’ response was “minimal”. To justify the soldiers’ behavior, the military released an edited video clip showing a small part of the incident. B’Tselem’s research indicates that, contrary to the military’s version, the soldiers acted violently from the very start, even before the family had a chance to resist. When ‘Abd a-Rahim’s family tried to protect him, the soldiers responded with violence and also heavily damaged the house.
In September 2012, Israel’s Public Defender's office published a report on the isolation of inmates in Israeli prisons. The report criticized the isolation of minors and called for this measure to be restricted or limited in scope. The Israel Prison Service (IPS) provided B’Tselem with figures indicating that, from Jan. 2007 to 28 April 2013, 5,602 inmates were held in isolation, among them 1,493 Palestinians. Of these, 244 were minors, including 76 teenagers who were held in isolation on 100 separate occasions. The international standards set by the UN absolutely forbid holding minors in isolation.
Some 511 Gazan men, including 14 minors, are currently being held as prisoners and detainees in Israel. In July 2012, after a five-year hiatus, family visits to Gazan inmates in Israel were resumed. From that time until 22 April 2013, most of the inmates have received visits. Israel permits inmates to be visited by their parents, wives and children under eight years old; children over eight, siblings and grandparents are not allowed to visit. Permission for children under the age of eight to visit their imprisoned fathers was granted only in May 2013. B’Tselem calls upon the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) to allow all first-degree relatives, including children of all ages, to visit Gazans being held in Israel.
On 9 September 2012 B’Tselem contacted the Dept. for the Investigation of Police (DIP) demanding an investigation of Border Police officers who allegedly assaulted Sa’id Qiblawi, 14. According to testimonies B’Tselem collected, Qiblawi was arrested near his home by Border Police who were being stoned. A policeman dragged Qiblawi along the ground and put him into a jeep, where he was beaten. On 2 May 2013 the DIP informed B’Tselem that upon conclusion of the investigation, the case was closed for lack of evidence. B’Tselem applied to the DIP on behalf of the complainant’s family, requesting the investigative material in order to explore the option of appealing the closing of the case.
On 24 April 2013, as has been a frequent occurrence of late, settlers from Giv’at Gal came onto the privately owned land of the Zaro family, of Hebron. The landowners called the police to report the trespassing. Israeli soldiers came to the scene and, rather than sending the settlers away, arrested the Palestinians. Part of the incident was filmed by a volunteer in B’Tselem’s camera project. The detainees were released the following day by a military judge after this footage was presented in court and it was proven that the there was no justification for the arrest, which involved violence towards one of the Zaros.
On the morning of 20 March 2013, the Israeli military detained nearly 30 Palestinian minors on their way to school in Hebron, many of whom were under the age of criminal responsibility (12). Later that day, B’Tselem wrote to the Legal Advisor in Judea and Samaria, the Legal Advisor of the Israel Police and to the spokesperson for the Judea and Samaria Division regarding this issue. The officials confirmed that, further to a stone-throwing incident earlier that morning, the military apprehended 27 minors, including at least 14 under the age of 12. Later, the military released 20 of the minors to the custody of the Palestinian Authority. The other seven minors were questioned by the police. B’Tselem stressed the following: minors should not be questioned without their parents’ knowledge and the presence of an adult representative on their behalf; the police is duty-bound to inform parents immediately upon the detention of their children; it is unlawful to detain or transport minors under the age of 12.
Following the announcement that an investigation was opened into the circumstances surrounding the death of Arafat Jaradat, a Palestinian resident of Sa'ir, who was detained at Megido Prison, B'Tselem stated that the investigation must relate to the full circumstances of the event, and not only to the conduct of those directly responsible for his wellbeing at the time.
Following a petition to the High Court of Justice contesting the inflated and discriminatory periods of detention applicable to Palestinian minors in the West Bank, the military has amended the relevant military legislation. The change, slated to take effect in April 2013, requires that minors under the age of 14 be brought before a judge within 24 hours of detention and minors aged 14-18 within 48 hours. Currently, military law in the West Bank does not distinguish between minors and adults with respect to duration of detention. The change is welcome news, although the maximum periods of detention are still too long - twice what is permissible inside Israel.
Yesterday, Israeli military court judge, Maj. Daniel Kfir unconditionally released ‘Abd al-’Aziz Fakhouri, a young Palestinian man who was arrested almost a month ago in Hebron by soldiers out of uniform. The judge made the ruling after watching two videos. The first video was broadcast in the Israeli media, and the second was recently uncovered by B'Tselem. The judged ruled that the videos prove that the arrest was groundless, in contrast to an official IDF spokesperson announcement.
Testimony collected by B’Tselem shows on 28 August 2012, Sa’id Qiblawi, age 14, chanced on an area near his home in Abu Dis where children were throwing stones at border police officers. On trying to leave, Qiblawi was stopped by a policeman who, he testified, dragged him on the ground and put him inside a jeep, where, lying on the floor, he was beaten by other police officers. More beating followed at the nearby border police base. B’Tselem contacted the DIP demanding an inquiry into his case.
Mahmoud a-Sarsak, age 25, a resident of the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza, has been imprisoned by Israel for the last three years under the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law of 2002. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel report that a-Sarsak, who has been on a hunger strike for some 80 days, has lost a great deal of weight and that his life is in imminent danger.
This morning (15 May 2012), the media reported that an agreement was reached between Israel and representatives of the Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, following a hunger strike that lasted some six weeks. One of the demands of the strikers was the resumption of family visits for the prisoners from Gaza, which were stopped in 2007. The ongoing denial of the rights of prisoners and detainees from Gaza to received family visits is a very serious blow to their right to family life.
Israel’s High Court of Justice today (7.5.2012) rejected appeals by Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahlah against their continuing administrative detention, ruling that a hunger strike cannot be a factor in determining the duration of detention. This follows a report from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel that both prisoners are near death. The two prisoners began their strike on 1 March 2012 to protest the renewal of their detention. Both are now hospitalized at Assaf Harofeh Hospital in Rishon LeZion. Israel’s use of administrative detention blatantly contravenes international law; the army must release all administrative detainees or give them a fair trial.
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel reported that administrative detainee Hanaa Shalabi, 30, declared a hunger strike when arrested on 16 February 2012 “in protest of her violent detention, the humiliating and hurtful search that was conducted on her upon her detention, and also in protest of being held in administrative detention.” According to PHR-Israel her life is in danger. Israel’s use of administrative detention blatantly breaches these rules. The military must release all the administrative detainees or prosecute them, in accordance with due process.
B’Tselem has received testimony raising suspicion that Muhammad Maharmeh, 22, of Hebron, was abused at length by IDF soldiers. On 11 March 2012, soldiers went to the Maharmeh home in the Old City of Hebron and assaulted Muhammad and his father Ishaq, 50. According to their testimony, the soldiers took the two to an army base, where Muhammad was abused for several hours while his father, held separately, could hear him screaming. B’Tselem has called on the Military Police Investigation Unit to open an investigation into this incident.