Following widespread criticism of the use of night raids to arrest minors in the West Bank, the military authorities announced in February 2014, the introduction of a pilot programme to issue written summonses in lieu of night arrests. The programme operated in the Nablus and Hebron districts but was temporarily suspended in or about September 2014 due to “increased violence”. The military authorities have stated that they did not keep any statistics during the initial operation of the programme making any meaningful internal assessment problematic.
During the operation of the pilot programme in 2014, UNICEF documented 24 cases in which summonses were used in lieu of arresting minors at night but noted that some of the summonses were delivered by the military during night-time raids and violations continued to be reported during the subsequent interrogation process at the military detention centre or police station. Evidence collected by MCW confirms that summonses were delivered in the middle of the night or via telephone without any documentation being provided to the family.
Evidence collected by MCW indicates that the programme re-started in or about March 2015, but with a number of troubling features:
- Summonses continue to be delivered in most cases by the military after midnight;
- Relevant parts of the summonses are handwritten in Hebrew without Arabic translation;
- Relevant information, such as the nature of the accusation, is missing;
- Although the military acknowledges that there is a discretion to permit a parent to accompany a child during interrogation, this safeguard is denied and the parent is made to wait outside the interrogation centre or go home; and
- No reference to the child’s legal rights is included in the summons.
The most recent case documented by MCW in which a summons was issued occurred in May 2016 when the military issued a summons written in Hebrew at 2:00 a.m.