Evidence Update: Transferring Children to Interrogation Centres on the Floor of Military Vehicles
[31 July 2022] – In 2013, following an extensive review of the treatment of children held in Israeli military detention, UNICEF reported that "many children are subjected to ill-treatment during the journey to the interrogation centre. Some endure physical or verbal abuse; some suffer from painful restraints or from being forced to lie on the floor of the vehicle. The transfer process can take many hours and often includes intermediate stops at settlements or military bases where further ill-treatment is reported."
At the time of UNICEF's review, 451 children reported being transferred on the metal floor of Israeli military vehicles, prompting the UN Children's Fund to recommend that: "At all times during transfer, children should be properly seated and treated with dignity."[i]
Recent evidence collected from children held in Israeli military detention indicates that after almost a decade, the practice remains largely unchanged and the UN agency's recommendations, ignored.
- "A soldier tied my hands to the front with one plastic tie which was tight and painful. They also blindfolded me. I was then taken to the back of a military jeep where I sat on the metal floor between the soldiers’ feet. Inside the jeep soldiers verbally abused me and called me "a son of a whore". They also kicked me." (21 October 2021)
- "A soldier tied my hands behind my back. The ties were tight and painful. He also blindfolded me. The soldiers led me towards the nearby settlement of Migdal Oz. On the way the soldiers swore at me. They also tried to trip me and made fun of me. When we got to the gate of the settlement they put me in the back of a military jeep. They threw me on my stomach on the metal floor of the jeep. Then they drove to the police station in Etzion settlement." (18 October 2021)
- "The soldiers walked me a short distance and then blindfolded me and tied my hands behind my back with two plastic ties on top of each other. The ties were very tight and painful. After I was tied they pushed me into the back of a jeep and made me sit on the metal floor. Inside the jeep soldiers kicked me all over my body. The jeep took me to the police station in Etzion settlement." (5 September 2021)
- "Then the commander came and asked me for my name. He wanted to know what I was up to at that late hour. He then tied my hands to the front with three plastic ties: one on each wrist and another connecting the two. The ties were tight. I was also blindfolded. At around 11:00 p.m. I was taken in a military jeep where I sat on the metal floor and driven to the police station in Etzion settlement. At Etzion I was left in a shipping container until dawn and then I was taken for interrogation." (7 August 2021)
- "The soldiers swore at me and started to kick me. Then one of the soldiers tied my hands with two plastic ties: one around my wrists and another higher up near my elbows. The ties were very tight and painful. Then I was blindfolded and made to sit by the jeep for about an hour. After an hour they took me to the back of the jeep and made me sit on the metal floor. I felt claustrophobic inside the small jeep. The jeep drove to the police station in Etzion settlement. (31 July 2021)
It is estimated that since UNICEF concluded that the ill-treatment of children held in Israeli military detention "appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized", between 2,475 and 4,950 children have been transferred from their homes in the West Bank to Israeli interrogation centres on the metal floor of military vehicles.[ii]
According to Israel's then military prosecutor in the West Bank, 1,004 Palestinian children were detained by the Israeli military in the West Bank in 2013. This data was provided by Lt.-Col. Maurice Hirsch, at Ofer Military Court on 26 February 2014 and to UNICEF prior to February 2015. Based on evidence collected that year, 45 percent of the children detained reported being transferred on the floor of military vehicles.
This estimate is based on an annual child detention rate of between 500-1,000 children. Based on 957 testimonies collected between 2013 and 2021, the average reported rate of floor transfer was 55 percent.