The bureaucratization of the occupation: The military fails to locate an injured minor arrested by security forces and the state presents a new “official inquiry” form for locating detainees as the latest advancement
On November 28, 2016 in the small hours of the night, Israeli security forces arrested a 17-year-old minor with a leg injury requiring surgery. The youth was taken from his home in the Ramallah district. His family, who were extremely anxious, contacted HaMoked for help in locating where the injured son was being held. Information about his whereabouts was provided by the state only on November 30, 2016, after HaMoked filed a habeas corpus petition. It turned out the youth had been kept at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem the entire time.
The military’s failure to locate a detainee is not an isolated incident, and despite High Court judgments and military protocols, the system the military has put in place for locating detainees and prisoners repeatedly fails.
In response to HaMoked’s petition, the state presented a new form, to be used by public associations that contact the military with requests to locate Palestinian detainees. There are no suggestions on how to improve the military system’s ability to locate detainees, or for special procedures in sensitive cases such as detainees who are injured and/or under the age of majority, only more red tape for human rights organizations and family members.
At the hearing, the justices of the High Court were satisfied with the new form, though Justice Danziger did stress that: “This case does raise questions”, given that the individual is a minor, and injured at that. Moreover, the justice noted that the figures the state presented in response to the petition, according to which of some 3,000 inquiries made to locate detainees in the first ten months of 2012, 274 people (some 10%) were not found within the first few hours were “distressing”.
However, the justices did recommend the petition be withdrawn, given that the minor had been located, referring, in their judgment, to the state’s declaration that it was making efforts to minimize the number of cases in which families are not given information about the whereabouts of a minor. The judgment also quotes the state’s statement that it “would be open, to the extent possible, to suggestions and ideas for improving services brought up by HaMoked”.