Mass arrest of Palestinian children on their way to school in Hebron – at least 5 under the age of criminal responsibility

Published: 
20 Mar 2013

Update: On the day of the incident 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.

B'Tselem this morning urgently contacted the Army's Legal Advisor for Judea and Samaria, Col. Doron Ben Barak, demanding his emergency intervention regarding the detention of numerous children, including some as young as 8 to 10 years old, by the Israeli military this morning in Hebron.


Video documentation of the mass arrest filmed by an international activist

Preliminary information received this morning by B'Tselem indicates that the army today conducted mass arrests near the area known as route 160 in Hebron/ Soldiers detained or arrested over twenty minors on their way to school. About ten of them were released. As is known to B'Tselem at this point, among the children detained by the military are at least five children 8 to 10 years old, with possibly others below the age of criminal responsibility who cannot legally be arrested. Conversations with the Hebron police indicate that some of the children have been taken for interrogation by a youth interrogator.

In a conversation between B'Tselem and the spokesman for the military's Judea and Samaria Division, we were told that the children and youths taken away by the military may have been involved in throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. If there are specific suspicions against youths over the age of criminal responsibility, the police have the authority to detain them and interrogate them, but this cannot justify the mass detention of youths for unspecified suspicions, let alone the arrest or detention of children under twelve.

The Israeli Youth Law requires that a parent or adult be present during the interrogation of child suspects. The law does not formally apply to Palestinians in the occupied territories, who are subject to Israeli military law, but the military court has recommended that the relevant provisions be taken into account in all dealings with Palestinian children.