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Detention of 11-year-old boy, held without his parents’ knowledge in inadequate conditions for over 24 hours: HaMoked calls on the military to swiftly act to prevent recurrence of such an event

On January 9, 2020, HaMoked sent a stern letter to the military about the illegal arrest of a boy just shy of his 12th birthday, who was detained on October 16, 2019 in the area of Qalqiliya. The letter detailed the unfolding of events from the time the family contacted HaMoked on the following day, seeking to locate their child: first HaMoked was told by the military that the child was held at the Ariel police station. However, a lawyer who was sent there urgently by the family, did not find the boy there, and was told that no one of that name was recorded in the police system. The Efraim territorial brigade, which had most likely detained the boy, kept insisting that he “was definitely handed over to the Ariel police”. Given the lack of clarity regarding his whereabouts, HaMoked sent a letter to the State Attorney’s Office, warning that it would petition the High Court of Justice (HCJ) if the boy was not promptly located. That same evening, the State Attorney’s Office responded that at 17:30 – over 24 hours after he was taken – the boy was transferred to the Palestinian Authority at Qalqiliya. No other details were given. It later came to light that on the day he was detained. the boy was held at a military base that is not a declared incarceration facility (military post 422 near the Tzufim settlement), and that throughout the night he was left handcuffed at that base. The following morning, the soldiers tried to hand him over to the Ariel police but they refused to take him, and so he was taken back to the base.

In its letter, HaMoked clarified that in its grave and illegal conduct in this case, the military had breached a series of laws, both under military legislation and pursuant to Israel’s obligations according to international law. HaMoked noted that the detention of a minor under the age of 12, for over 24 hours, without his parents being told of his whereabouts, was completely contrary to the principle of the child’s best interest, which should be the paramount consideration in every action taken by the authorities in relation to minors. HaMoked also stressed that under military legislation, this was a minor below the minimum age of criminal responsibility, and therefore his detention was prohibited; this compounded by the protracted time he was kept in custody, handcuffed and in substandard conditions prohibited even in detention of adults. HaMoked added that: “depriving the liberty of a child for such a long time, while he is being held by soldiers who are foreign to him, whose language he does not understand, is traumatic and could cause mental damage that would impact his proper development. This, given the fact that a child’s ability to understand the reason and purpose of the detention is limited”.

HaMoked demanded that the military disclose the procedure – insofar as it existed – that regulates delaying and detaining minors under the age of criminal responsibility. HaMoked concluded by calling on the military to promptly act to prevent such severe cases from recurring. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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