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The military continues its wrongful practice of traumatic night-time arrests of minors in the West Bank: The pilot program for summoning minors for interrogation remains in force but has been abandoned in practice

The Israeli military systematically violates the rights of Palestinian minors in detention, despite the protections accorded to minors in international law and Israeli law. Minors are interrogated without their parents being present and without being allowed to consult with a lawyer. The detention itself is traumatic. Although the security forces’ regulations stipulate that minors should be given a summons to appear for interrogation, rather than being detained at their home and forcibly taken for interrogation, members of the security forces routinely detain minors in the middle of the night. Soldiers take the minors from their beds, traumatizing them and their family members, and often transport them handcuffed and blindfolded on a lengthy journey to the place of interrogation – unaccompanied by their parents, who do not even know where their child has been taken.

In 2014, the military began implementing a pilot program in which Palestinian minors would receive a summons to come in for interrogation, as a substitute to night-time arrests. From the military’s responses for the years 2014 until the first half of 2016, it became clear that the pilot program was being implemented only partially and on a very small-scale. Thus, only 29 minors were summoned for questioning in the first half of 2015 (data for the second half of the year were lost “due to fire damage”) – this despite the fact that hundreds of minors are arrested in the West Bank each year. Additionally, despite the small number of summons, the military did not have the basic data of how many complied with the summons, and it seemed that the pilot was being conducted without any monitoring or effort to gauge its effectivity. In its November 6, 2016 response to HaMoked’s harsh letter concerning the limited implementation of the pilot program, the military claimed that “The number of summons for interrogation issued since the actual start of the pilot program is affected by the unique circumstances existing in each arrest of a minor in the Judea and Samaria Area”.

On August 13, 2017, HaMoked sent the military another freedom-of-information application regarding the implementation of the pilot program from the second half of 2016 until the time of response. In it reply of January 30, 2018, the military stated that “The temporary procedure regarding the summoning of Palestinian minors for questioning is still in force. However, from the second half of 2016, few summons were issued… we have not been able locate the exact information concerning the number of summons issued since the month of July 2016”. The military went on to say that “Currently, the reasons for the meagre use of the procedure are being examined, as well as its use from now on.”

The data show that from the start, the military implemented the pilot program for appearances’ sake only, without any real intent to derive any lessons from it or achieve the goal of reducing the scope of night-time arrests of minors. It is therefore not surprising that only now, when it has become clear that the pilot is all but abandoned – both in scope of implementation and in the data collection – the military finally sees fit to examine its implementation. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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