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Violence by Nachshon Unit prison guards against Palestinian minors in custody – complaints to the National Prison Wardens Investigation Unit

Israel routinely violates the rights of Palestinian minors from East Jerusalem who are held in the custody of Israeli security forces – the Israel Police, the Israel Security Agency (ISA), and the Israel Prison Service (IPS). Violations take place during the arrest, during the interrogation and while inside the incarceration facilities.

Recently HaMoked received reports about physical violence against minors by prison guards of the IPS Nachshon Unit – tasked with accompanying and transferring inmates in IPS custody – sometimes occurring inside the courthouse itself, before or after a hearing. Three Palestinian teenagers aged 15-17, residents of East Jerusalem, sought HaMoked’s assistance in filing complaints to the National Prison Wardens Investigation Unit (NPWIU) about the actions of Nachshon Unit warders. In all three cases, described below, the NPWIU closed the complaint without taking any action against those responsible for the violence.

The complaint of HR, 15 years old at the time of arrest (HaMoked case 105205):
On October 15, 2018, after a hearing concerning his case at the Jerusalem District Court, while still in the courthouse, Nachshon Unit wardens beat the boy with their fists, and then left him cuffed in a painful posture for about an hour.

In the words of HR:

“Once the elevator door closed… they beat me and pushed and hurt me a lot. I tried protecting myself by hiding my head between my hands. The beating focused on my chest and head. The beating left clear marks on me. One on the forehead above the left eye… I got another punch on my left cheek that still hurts me a lot. As we got out of the elevator other wardens joined in… and kept on shoving me and hitting me… They kept holding me until they sat me on my knees and started cursing me using obscene language, ‘son of a bitch’ and so on. Then they put me in a small room and tied my hands behind my back while they were tied to my legs and told me to sit. The posture was hard and uncomfortable because of the strange cuffing and I had to sit at an incline for an hour… there was intolerable pressure on my hands and legs. Before getting into the [IPS] transport vehicle one of the wardens… that was involved in the incident looked at me in a threatening and scary way.”

The boy’s father stated that after the incident he approached the judge and told him that his son had been attacked in the elevator. HR said that once he was back in prison, he himself complained to an officer about the attack. It should also be noted that during the court hearing, HR complained to the judge that the Unit’s wardens didn't always give him his diabetes medication.

On November 12, 2018, HaMoked filed a complaint on behalf of HR to the NPWIU, demanding an investigation be opened into the suspected abuse of the minor at the hands of wardens. In the complaint, HaMoked stressed that the wardens were particularly cruel in beating a boy suffering from ill-health. HaMoked noted that inhuman, cruel and humiliating treatment of detainees constituted a breach of Israeli law, as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture. HaMoked demanded that broad actions be taken to eradicate the phenomenon of such violence, this alongside a substantive investigation into the complaint. HaMoked attached to its letter the photographs showing some of the wardens with the minor, which were taken by his father before they entered the elevator and after they exited it.

On February 3, 2019, HaMoked was notified that the complaint file was closed following an investigation, as “no foundation was found for the commission of criminal offenses”.

The complaint of MI, 17 years old at the time of arrest (HaMoked case 103237):

On April 11, 2018, MI was brought from Megiddo to the Jerusalem Magistrates Court by the Nachshon Unit wardens to a hearing in his case. While he was waiting there, one of the Unit’s wardens – whose first name MI knows – struck the teenager in the presence of other wardens.

In the words of MI:

“… [The warden] pushed me hard and I tried to defend myself by pushing him away. So then he took me outside. Three other “Nachshon” wardens assembled around. [The warden] hit me and slammed my head against the wall. The other wardens tried forcing me to sit on the floor. Then they took me back to the waiting area. [He] pushed me again to force me to sit down and then I screamed at him that I was going to tell the judge what happened. He cursed me and the court using obscene language.”

The teenager showed his bruises to the judge during the hearing and also to the doctor at Megiddo prison, who apparently photographed them.

On June 18, 2018, HaMoked filed a complaint on behalf of MI to the NPWIU, demanding an investigation be opened into the violent incident, and also into an additional violent incident, which took place on April 26, 2018, where a different warden punched the minor, again, while waiting in court for a hearing.

On November 12, 2018, HaMoked was notified the complaint file was closed on the grounds that “no foundation was found for the commission of criminal offenses”.

The complaint of AD, 17 years old at the time of arrest (HaMoked case 103324):

On April 26, 2018, AD was struck by warden on returning to the detention facility from a court hearing. As a result, the teenager’s head was bandaged for a few days. Despite his injury, the IPS continued to hold the youth in a solitary confinement cell, in complete isolation.

In the words of AD:

When the IPS transport vehicle stood in front of the Russian Compound, the Nachshon wardens got in and started shouting at us and pushing us. They took me inside the detention facility. And there, when we were between the two doors right after the entrance to the building and while I was cuffed, one of the wardens who accompanied me struck my head from behind, hitting me on the right ear. The blow was strong and caused bleeding. It made me fall and hit my head on a piece of iron… they bandaged my head and then immediately put me in a solitary confinement cell. As far as I remember, I was held in the solitary confinement cell in total isolation for almost 21 days. I was left with my head bandaged for almost five days.”

HaMoked’s complaint on behalf of AD to the NPWIU, filed June 18, 2018, was closed on the grounds that “no foundation was found for the commission of criminal offenses”.

Having perused the investigative materials provided to it, HaMoked filed an appeal on 24.1.2019 against the decision not to open an investigation. HaMoked asserted that “the documentation provided reveals several structural flaws with clear and disturbing systematic characteristics”. HaMoked also complained that “the documentation provided is very limited in both scope and substantive content, making it impossible to substantively address any examination actions that were taken or neglected”. Additionally, it did not include any medical records about the injury, nor CCTV footage of the entrance to the detention facility. Thereby, contended HaMoked, “the appellant was denied the possibility to confront the wardens’ claims”, which contained contradictions and unclear points.

No substantive response has arrived thus far. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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