Newsletter - August 2013
Detention figures – According to the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), as of 31 July, there were 4,828 Palestinians held in Israeli detention facilities including 195 children. In the case of children, this represents a monthly increase of 1 percent and an annual increase of 12.2 percent in the average number of children detained compared with 2012. According to the IPS, 49 percent of children, and 89 percent of adults were detained in facilities inside Israel, in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Read more
Testimony from a 15-year-old boy – On 6 July 2013, a 15-year-old boy from Al 'Arrub refugee camp, in the West Bank, was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 2:00 a.m. and accused of throwing stones. “I was sleeping when I woke up to the sound of our doorbell ringing. It was 2:00 a.m. I stayed in bed as my father went to open the door. Israeli soldiers entered the house and seconds later a soldier was beside my bed. He asked for my name and then said: 'You need to come with us. Put some clothes on.’ I was then taken out of the house before I could put my shoes on and made to stand by the front door. A soldier then tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie. I struggled and it snapped open. He brought a thicker plastic tie and again tied my hands very tightly behind my back. My hands swelled up because the blood circulation was cut off. I asked the soldier to loosen the tie but he ignored me and slapped me on the face and kicked me.” Read more
A call for an end to the double interrogation - An Israeli military court judge recently handed down a verdict in the case of a 15-year-old Palestinian boy accused of throwing stones in the West Bank. In the course of the hearing, evidence emerged that during the police investigation a number of boys were threatened with physical violence unless they implicated the accused. The boys testified that whilst they were being threatened the audiotape used to record the proceedings was switched off. Once they agreed to implicate the boy accused of throwing stones, the interrogator switched the audiotape on. Although the military court judge was highly critical of the manner in which the police conducted the investigation, he nevertheless relied on this incriminating evidence to convict the boy. Only in one instance did the judge reject this evidence in circumstances where the threats were actually made whilst the audiotape was on. Read more
Children in Chains – A new film by independent film maker Jon Pullman - Trailer
New York Times article hints at equal rights - The New York Times recently published an article about stone-throwing Palestinian boys from Beit Ummar, a Palestinian village in the West Bank near Bethlehem (“In the West Bank Culture of Conflict, Boys Wield the Weapon at Hand” (4 August 2013)). The story vividly highlights how clashes erupt at friction points throughout the West Bank where Israeli settlements and infrastructure have been built in close proximity to Palestinian centres of population. However, there is one aspect of this issue that the New York Times article only hinted at which possibly deserves closer attention, not least because it touches upon some of the big issues soon to be discussed in the recently resuscitated peace talks. Read more
Five core recommendations – MCW has made 42 recommendations regarding the treatment of children in the Israeli military detention system. These recommendations include a number of core issues including the following:
1. All children must be immediately informed of their right to silence upon arrest.
2. All children must be permitted to consult with a lawyer of choice prior to interrogation.
3. All children must be accompanied by a parent throughout their interrogation.
4. All interrogations must be audio-visually recorded.
5. Any breach of these recommendations should result in the child’s immediate release.
Finally, All Palestinian children detained under Israeli military law should be held in facilities in the West Bank and not in Israel, which constitutes a breach of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Is the UK Government fulfilling its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect to G4S? – Last month 49 percent of children and 89 percent of adult Palestinian detainees are held in Israeli Prison Service (IPS) facilities inside Israel. This is significant because under Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention none of these detainees should be transferred or detained outside the West Bank. Into this regulated legal arena has stumbled the UK/Danish security company, G4S, which has entered into a number of commercial contracts with the IPS to provide goods and services to prisons located in Israel and the West Bank. This set of facts potentially exposes the directors of G4S to criminal prosecution, but is the UK Government doing enough to investigate what is possibly a “grave breach” of the Convention by UK citizens, and are the explanations given in Parliament satisfactory? Read more
News – Media – Haaretz: IDF legal adviser: Detention of 5-year-old Palestinian boy was legitimate. “The Israel Defense Forces' detention of a five-year-old Palestinian boy in Hebron earlier this month was a legitimate step in order to 'thwart the threat posed by the activities of a minor,’ the IDF’s legal adviser in the West Bank has ruled.” Read more
Photo: Parents waiting at Ofer military court by Sylvie Le Clezio