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8.12.2020

Following HaMoked’s urgent petition, a Palestinian boy who was detained by the military on his way to school was located, some 40 hours after the arrest

Every year, hundreds of Palestinian minors are arrested by the Israeli security forces and taken to interrogation. The security forces usually do not notify the parents where their child is being taken, and it is often only by contacting HaMoked for assistance that they find out their whereabouts. In severe cases, if the security forces fail to divulge the minor’s whereabouts within 24 hours from the time of the arrest, HaMoked has to file an urgent habeas corpus petition.

Thus happened to a boy who was arrested on November 29, 2020, a day before his 15th birthday, while on his way to school in the refugee camp where he lives, near Hebron. His family was told nothing about his whereabouts and grew worried about his fate. Despite repeated enquiries it made during the first 24 hours of the boy’s arrest, HaMoked could not obtain any information about his whereabouts from the military control center, tasked with collating and providing up-to-date information on the whereabouts of Palestinian detainees, held by either the military, the Israel Police, the Israel Security Agency or Israel Prison Service. And so instead of celebrating their son’s birthday with him, the parents spent November 30, 2020, in constant apprehension about his fate.

Some 30 hours into the arrest, HaMoked filed a habeas corpus petition to the High Court of Justice (HCJ) demanding current information about the teenager’s whereabouts. As it does in similar cases, HaMoked also demanded that the security forces’ record the holding place of every detainee, particularly a minor, in real-time in order to prevent such cases from recurring.

Later in the evening, the parents received a telephone call, telling them to come pick up their son from the police station in the Beitar Illit settlement. The boy was released close to midnight, without any explanation about his disappearance for about a day and a half. In the state’s response to the court, submitted the following day, 1.12.2020, all that was revealed was that his arrest was carried out by the military.

In its response, submitted to the Court on the following day, HaMoked condemned the fact that no official source had real-time information about the minor’s holding place, despite the fact that he had been transferred from the military to the police and from there to Megiddo prison, run by the Israel Prison Service (IPS), and was finally returned to the Beitar Illit police. HaMoked pointed out that only recently, in a similar case it had handled, the HCJ stressed the need to provide speedy responses on the whereabouts of detainees, particularly minors. HaMoked added that the present case constituted at the very least a system-wide failure, which might recur, unless corrected. Therefore, HaMoked requested that the court issue an order nisi to shed light on the circumstances of the case, and provide the requested general remedy.

However, on December 6, 2020, the HCJ deleted the petition and ruled that “there is no room to leave the petition standing as regards the general remedy sought in it… regarding which, there was no exhaustion of proceedings as required, and tying it to a habeas corpus remedy, by nature an urgent remedy, is inappropriate”.

The minor’s transfer back and forth from place to place and between different security forces is typical and one of the problematic aspects of the treatment given to Palestinian minors arrested for interrogation. For more details, see HaMoked’s recent report, Under Cover of Darkness: Night Arrests of Palestinian Minors by Israeli Security Forces in the West Bank.
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