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From the field

Video: Police detained four Palestinian girls after a settler accused them of picking cherries from his grove

Police fails to protect the girls from settler violence but finds the resources to vigorously enforce the law on children for minor suspicions

On Tuesday afternoon, May 27, 2014, the Shai Police detained four Palestinian girls, ages 11 to 15, from the South Hebron Hills, after a settler from Ma'on complained that they had picked cherries from his grove. The girls were on their way home from school, escorted by the army. They were taken in a police car, without adult accompaniment, to the police station in Hebron and detained until the late afternoon. Two of them were interrogated. After being held for about four hours in the Israeli police station, they were handed over to the Palestinian police and released to their homes only in the evening.

In response to the incident, B’Tselem stated that the absurdity and injustice of holding four girls on suspicion of such a minor offense is disgraceful and outrageous, especially given that the authorities systematically refrain from enforcing the law on settlers who attack these girls and their families.

The incident was caught on video by international volunteers (video credit goes to Operation Dove. The girls’ parents consented to having the footage released):

A Hebron police officer taking the girls into the police car:

Settlers blocking the schoolchildren’s way and detaining them:

Incident details:

On Tuesday, May 27, 2014, students at a-Tuwani school were dismissed early, at 10:00 A.M., because of final exams. The students, from the Kh. a-Tuba and Maghayir al-'Abid villages, waited for the military patrol that escorts them home. Children who have to walk by the Havat Ma’on outpost on their way to and from school have been escorted by the army for the past ten years, under the instructions of a Knesset committee, due to repeated attacks by settlers from the outpost.

At about 11:00 A.M., a settler from Ma’on and the settlement’s head of security stopped the children, who were escorted by an army jeep, and prevented them from continuing on their way. The grove owner said four of the girls had picked cherries, and called the police. The soldiers complied with his demand to detain the schoolchildren until the police arrived. The officers arrived at about 12:00 noon and asked the grove owner to identify the girls he had accused of theft. After he pointed to the girls, they were taken in a police car to the police station in Hebron. The girls who were detained are Inshirah Jundiyeh, 11, under the age of criminal liability, sisters Randa (12) and Noor (13) Makhrameh and Dalal Zein, 15 who is mute.

B’Tselem was in touch with a Shai (Samaria and Judea) police officer throughout the incident, initially demanding that the soldiers allow the girls to go home without interruption. When it became clear that the girls had already been taken to the Hebron police station, Adv. Gaby Lasky contacted the police interrogators on B’Tselem’s behalf, demanded the four girls be released immediately and cautioned that interrogating Inshirah, who is under the age of criminal liability, was unlawful. Adv. Laski also contacted the police legal advisor, in an attempt to prevent the girls’ interrogation.

The police ultimately interrogated only the two sisters, Randa and Noor Makhrameh. Adv. Neri Ramati, from Adv. Lasky’s office, demanded to talk to the girls before they are interrogated, but the police did not facilitate this. In their interrogation, which lasted only a few minutes, the girls were told they were suspected of breaching the grove fence and stealing fruit. They were handed over to the Palestinian police shortly before 5:00 P.M., and released, accompanied by a relative of one of the girls, only at around 7:00 P.M., about eight hours after they were detained by the soldiers.