(Jerusalem) – Israeli security forces have used unnecessary force to arrest or detain Palestinian children as young as 11. Security forces have choked children, thrown stun grenades at them, beaten them in custody, threatened and interrogated them without the presence of parents or lawyers, and failed to let their parents know their whereabouts.
Human Rights Watch interviewed four boys, ages 11, 12, and 15, from different neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and a 14-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy from elsewhere in the West Bank, whom Israeli forces arrested or detained in separate incidents for allegedly throwing rocks from March to December 2014. They and their parents gave accounts of abuses during arrest and interrogation that caused the children pain, fear, and ongoing anxiety. Human Rights Watch has seen photos and marks on the body of one of the children, consistent with the accounts he and his parents had given; the children’s accounts were also consistent with each other.
“Israeli forces’ mistreatment of Palestinian children is at odds with its claim to respect children's rights,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director. “As Israel’s largest military donor, the US should press hard for an end to these abusive practices and for reforms.”
In every case Human Rights Watch documented, the children and their parents told Human Rights Watch that Israeli authorities did not inform parents of their child’s arrest and interrogated the children without permitting them to speak to a parent or lawyer prior to the interrogation. In five of the cases, the children said that interrogators either did not permit their parent to attend their interrogation or allowed them entry only as it ended. Two 15-year-old boys and the 14-year-old girl said they signed confessions written in Hebrew, a language they do not understand, after interrogators threatened them. One boy said police “punched and kicked” him, then presented him with the Hebrew confession to sign.
Rashid S., 11, said that Israeli border police forces officers threw a stun grenade (a non-lethal explosive device that produces a blinding light and intensely loud noise causing loss of balance) at him and put him in a chokehold when they arrested him for throwing stones in November. He said that officers put a black bag over his head, threatened him with beatings, and kicked him in the shin while taking him for interrogation. The border police forces pulled his coat and shirt off during arrest, but kept him outside for about an hour despite cold temperatures, he said. Human Rights Watch observed photographs of police arresting him and marks on the boy’s leg consistent with his account. Rashid’s full name and the full names of another person interviewed are not being used for their protection.
Two of the boys Human Rights Watch interviewed said they had urinated on themselves in fear at the time of their arrests, and three said they had experienced nightmares and difficulty in sleeping afterward. The families of the 14-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy said they were not allowed to visit or even call during their detention – 64 days for the girl and 110 for the boy.
Another 15-year-old boy from East Jerusalem, Fares Shyukhi, said Israeli border police officers strip-searched, slapped and kicked him, threatened him, and jailed him from March 6 to April 2, 2014, on suspicion of throwing rocks and a Molotov cocktail at a settlement in his neighborhood. He was later released to indefinite house arrest, but jailed again from late October to January 6, 2015, after failing to appear at a court hearing, his family said.
On January 6, Fares was returned to house arrest and his conditions were eased slightly the same month, after his lawyer informed the Jerusalem magistrates’ court that the boy had threatened suicide, allowing him to leave the house for six hours a week if accompanied by his mother. On March 29, the judge lifted his house arrest, but Israeli border police have detained him twice since then, he told Human Rights Watch, once violently, claiming wrongly that he was violating his house arrest.
Israeli border police forces put another 11-year-old boy, Ahmad Abu Sbitan, in a chokehold while arresting him outside the gates of his school in another East Jerusalem neighborhood, according to the boy and photographs of the incident, and arrested a 22-year-old man who sought to intervene non-violently, Ahmad and the man, Mohammed H., said. Police later strip-searched and beat the 22-year-old in the room where Ahmad was being detained, he told Human Rights Watch.
Police picked up the 12-year-old boy, Mohammed Khatib, while he was waiting to take a bus home from school outside the Old City of Jerusalem. A policeman “grabbed the back of my jacket and lifted me off the ground, I was choking,” the boy said. A police officer told the boy’s father that police were looking for a stone-throwing suspect “wearing a blue shirt,” the color of the boy’s school uniform, his father said. Police interrogated the boy without allowing his father to be present and released him without charge eight hours later.
Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Israel ratified in 1991, requires court procedures to take into account the age of child defendants and “the desirability of promoting their rehabilitation.” The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Israel also ratified in 1991, elaborates on this requirement and directs states to ensure that children are “not compelled … to confess guilt.” The Committee charged with interpreting the convention has stated that this includes a right to request the presence of a parent during questioning and that judges must take into account the absence of a parent or lawyer during interrogation, as well as other factors, when considering the reliability of confessions.
Israel’s Youth Law and military orders applicable in the West Bank require police to notify a parent of their child’s arrest and to allow the child to consult with a lawyer prior to interrogation. The Youth Law also entitles a child to have a parent present during their interrogation, except in cases of alleged “security offenses,” such as throwing stones. Although the Youth Law applies only to Israel, according to the military in practice this requirement is also applied in the West Bank.
Human Rights Watch submitted its preliminary findings, including details of five of the individual cases it investigated, to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and to the Israeli police. The separate responses of the IDF and Justice Ministry, which responded on behalf of the police, failed to address the specific allegations of unnecessary force during arrest and subsequent ill-treatment, while asserting that security officials had adhered to the law in all cases, including by informing the children of their rights.
They stated that interrogations of Palestinian children are conducted in Arabic and frequently recorded, and that Hebrew language documents are translated into Arabic. The responses did not in all cases directly address the question of whether officials had notified parents of their children’s arrest. In its response, the IDF said that breaches of procedures are viewed seriously and may lead to a ruling that a confession is inadmissible as evidence against an accused. The IDF cited several cases in which children were released due to serious interrogation process violations.
Human Rights Watch investigations indicate that existing laws are insufficient to safeguard the rights of Palestinian children in the custody of the Israeli police and the IDF, and that officials often adhere to legal requirements and procedures in a manner that undermines the protections they aimed to guarantee. For example, they often record interrogations to prevent the use of violence and threats against children, but many of the children interviewed complained that they were beaten or threatened before their official interrogation as an inducement to “confess.” Furthermore, several children said they were informed of their right to consult a lawyer only immediately before their interrogation and the police or military refused to delay the interrogation until their lawyer arrived.
Israeli interrogators use Arabic when interrogating Palestinian children but frequently use Hebrew to document the interviews – only 138 of 440 interrogations they conducted in 2014 were documented in Arabic, according to the Israeli military – or fail to audio or audio-visually record the interrogation – 128 of 440 cases in 2014, according to the military. This means that in many cases alleged confessions or other incriminating statements by detained children are documented in a language they do not understand, and there is no way to ascertain whether the documents were accurately translated to the children before they signed them.
Confessions obtained from children in violation of their rights add to the pressure on them to cooperate in plea bargains that result in their imprisonment with reduced sentences, Human Rights Watch said.
“Israel has been on notice for years that its security forces are abusing Palestinian children’s rights in occupied territory, but the problems continue,” Whitson said. “These are not difficult abuses to end if the Israeli government were serious about doing so.”
Abusive Arrests of Children
Human Rights Watch decided to focus on the issue of abusive arrests of children because reports by local human rights organizations and news media indicated, and follow up research confirmed, that there appeared to be a pattern of such arrests. Human Rights Watch initially identified the cases for documentation based on these reports, where preliminary information indicated the likelihood of abuses. Human Rights Watch obtained the consent of the children and at least one parent before conducting interviews and informed them that the interviews were to be in a human rights report. In some cases the report withholds the full names of interviewees to protect their safety and privacy. Human Rights watch did not offer interview subjects any remuneration.
The abuses of children that Human Rights Watch documented are consistent with information from other organizations, especially in the West Bank. UNICEF reported in 2013 that “the ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.” Israel responded to the report by committing to “collaborate with UNICEF to implement [the] report’s recommendations.” Yet, according to a UNICEF update, reports of alleged ill-treatment of children by Israeli forces “have not significantly decreased in 2013 and 2014.” UNICEF reported that from September 2013 to September 2014, it received affidavits from 171 children stating that Israeli forces had subjected them to “physical violence during arrest, interrogation and/or detention.”
The Israeli military conducts nighttime arrest raids on children’s family homes. In 2013, it arrested 162 children during such raids, according to the military. In February 2014, the military introduced a “pilot project” of issuing summonses to the families of children wanted for questioning in two areas of the West Bank, but it cancelled the project in January 2015 due to an increase in violence during the summer, and said it did not keep statistics on the project.
The Israeli military had classified 163 Palestinian children from the West Bank as “security detainees” – including children convicted for offenses like throwing stones, but not including other “criminal detainees” – in Israeli detention at the end of January 2015, according to Israel’s prison service. Palestinian children from East Jerusalem, occupied territory that Israel has purported to annex to its territory, in violation of international law, are detained under Israeli domestic law rather than military orders. Figures for children from East Jerusalem in detention were not available.
Rashid S., 11
Israeli border police forces arrested Rashid S., 11, outside his school in the Ein al-Louz area of Silwan, an East Jerusalem neighborhood, on the afternoon of November 24, 2014. “A few kids were throwing rocks at the soldiers, who were all in black, and they came out of their car,” Rashid said. “I ran to the mosque, but they threw a sound bomb that hit my leg on the stairway, so I fell down the stairs and they caught me by my shirt. They got me in a headlock and pushed me face-down on the ground.”
The police forces tore off Rashid’s shirt and coat during the arrest, he said. Human Rights Watch viewed a photograph taken by a neighborhood resident that shows the boy, shirtless, being held by an Israeli border policeman. At some point during or after the arrest he urinated on himself in fright, he said. Rashid and his father, Kayed, said that the police did not give him anything to keep warm for several hours. Weather records show that it was about 12 degrees Celsius in Jerusalem that day. Rashid said that the police drove him to a settlement in the neighborhood, put him “in a storage room” for about 15 minutes, then drove him to a police office near the Hebron Gate in the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, put him “in and out of a car,” and otherwise held him outside for about an hour.
“When they drove me from the settlement to the office, they put a black cloth bag on my head, and were shouting, ‘We’re going to beat you, you’re going to tell us who was with you throwing stones,’” Rashid said. “Then they were pushing me around, and cursing me, in Arabic. They kicked me in the shin, and my leg turned different colors. I was freezing. They kept putting me into a car and taking me out.”
Rashid said the police then took him to the detention facility in the Russian Compound, referred to in Arabic as Moskobiyya, north of the Old City. “They took the bag off my head before the interrogation,” Rashid said. His father said that neighbors had called to tell him of Rashid’s arrest and that he drove to a police station on Salahadin Street in East Jerusalem. “Then I got a call from a police interrogator saying to come to the Moskobiyya,” he said. Rashid’s interrogation had yet to begin but police “had sat him facing a wall on an outside balcony, and it was freezing,” his father said. “I shouted that they were treating him like an animal, and they told me they were going to arrest me for ‘disturbing an interrogation’ if I didn’t quiet down.”
The interrogation lasted for about an hour, and was recorded, Rashid and his father said. Rashid did not confess to throwing stones, but said he had run from Israeli forces simply because the forces had thrown a stun grenade at the group of children he was standing with. He said that older boys in the group had thrown stones but he did not know their names.
“When he got home he had nightmares,” Rashid’s father said. “He woke up screaming for four or five nights in a row.” Rashid told Human Rights Watch that he dreamed of being arrested, “over and over again,” and was scared of going to school.
Earlier in 2014, Rashid said, Israeli police had arrested two of his 11-year-old classmates, Adam and Bara, on suspicion of throwing stones, holding one of them overnight.
Ahmed Abu Sbitan, 11
Israeli border police officers arrested Ahmed Abu Sbitan, 11, at around 2:30 p.m. on December 21, 2014, he told Human Rights Watch. The police alleged that he had thrown a stone at them as he was leaving the Khalid Rashed School in the Al-Tur neighborhood of East Jerusalem, where he is in grade 6. “Kids were throwing rocks at the [border police], and the [border police] were throwing sound bombs [stun grenades] and [firing] rubber bullets,” Ahmed said. “They grabbed me while I was walking from the school entrance to the main street.”
Human Rights Watch viewed a video and photographs that showed a border policeman putting Ahmed in a chokehold during his arrest. “They didn’t ask me anything, they just told me, ‘Tishtok,’ because I was crying – it means, ‘Be quiet.’ “A kindergarten teacher and two guys from the neighborhood were trying to convince them to let me go, but they ignored them and arrested one of the guys, too.” Ahmed said he urinated on himself out of fear during his arrest.
Mohammed H., 22, who was also arrested, corroborated Ahmed’s account in a separate interview:
They were choking the boy, I could see he was terrified. I kept trying to talk to the police, saying that he was underage, that we will guarantee to bring him to the police station if they would just let go of him, but they refused. I kept trying to talk to them but they took the child, so I walked away. Then a police officer came over and accused me of throwing rocks, arrested me and put me in the jeep with the boy. They handcuffed me, but not him. I was trying to calm him down, he was crying and very scared.
Police drove Ahmed and Mohammed H. to a nearby Israeli settlement, Beit Orot, then to a police station on Salahadin Street, near Jerusalem’s Old City. Ahmed’s father, Nidal, said he learned of the arrest from a relative’s daughter, who witnessed it:
We didn’t know where they’d taken him. I looked for him everywhere, first at a police post in the area, then the police station on Salahadin street, then at Beit Orot. They let me in and I told a police officer at the settlement that I wanted to see him, but he said, ‘Who let you in? We’re taking him away for interrogation.’
Ahmed and Mohammed H., interviewed separately, said that police detained them for an hour and shouted abusive language at them in Beit Orot, but did not hit them. The Justice Ministry told Human Rights Watch that, contrary to the claims of Ahmed, Nidal, and Mohammed, Ahmed’s mother was present at the interrogation; they also said that he was 14, not 11. Human Rights Watch verified Ahmed’s date of birth and, in light of the inconsistent evidence, alerted the Justice Ministry to the possibility that they confused his case with that of another child. The Ministry stood by the information, however.
Ahmed said that police at the station on Salahadin Street stripped off Mohammed H.’s clothes. “We were in the same room. They took off everything, even his underwear,” Ahmed said.
Mohammed H. recalled:
I asked them to take off my handcuffs, because they were cutting my wrists and my hands had turned blue. The police officer told me to face the wall. The boy was next to me and they took off all my clothes and strip searched me. Then they put my clothes back on and started to beat me on my legs and pushing me into the wall. The commander asked the officers to stop, so that they don’t damage the wall, so they pulled me away from the wall and slapped me around.
Police interrogated Ahmed and Mohammed H. separately on the third floor of the police station, they both said. Ahmed’s father, Nidal, said police refused to allow him to enter the police station. Nidal then called his own father “to come to the station, and the police let him in the front door, but they wouldn’t let him into the interrogation,” Nidal said.
During questioning, Ahmed said he admitted to throwing a stone. “They told me to name all the kids who were with me, who threw stones,” he said. According to Ahmed, police did not threaten or assault him during interrogation, but they also failed to inform him that he had a right to remain silent (which he had under Israeli law) or that he could call his parent. Police released him without charge after interrogating him for an hour.
Mohammed H. said that police transferred him to the Moskobiyya detention facility, and “slapped and cursed” him in the vehicle on the way there. He was detained overnight and released without charge.
Ahmed’s mother, Mirvat, said her son refused to talk about his arrest and interrogation. “A school counselor told us to try to talk to him about it but he doesn’t want to.”
“I’m scared of the police,” Ahmed said. “Whenever I see them I cross to the other side of the street or turn around.”
Ahmed’s parents, other residents of the area, and other students told Human Rights Watch that Israeli security forces, including police and border police, were present virtually every day just outside schools on al-Tur’s main street, including near the Khalid Rashed school, as students are going to class in the morning and when school lets out in the afternoon. The residents and students said the presence of Israeli security forces was unnecessary, and was a provocation to the students. A school employee who asked not to be named said: “The kids don’t throw rocks or do anything if the police aren’t there. They should stop sending the police to loiter at the school gates.”
Police have many times arrested students for throwing rocks at their vehicles stationed outside the school’s entrance, Ahmed said, including 2 of the 30 students in his class. Parents of other children at the school and members of a parents’ committee, interviewed separately, gave consistent accounts of the police presence at the school, and repeated incidents in which Israeli security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at students, often in the context of stone-throwing but students and their parents also allege without provocation on some occasions.
Mohammed Khatib, 12
Israeli police picked up Mohammed Khatib, 12, at around 12:15 p.m. on December 8, 2014, at a bus station on Sultan Suleiman Street in East Jerusalem, where he was waiting after school for a bus to go home to the Shu`fat Refugee Camp:
I was with four friends from my class, and a police car was nearby. Policemen in blue shirts walked back and forth in front of us a few times. Nobody threw rocks at them, or shouted, or anything. Then one of them walked over and grabbed the back of my jacket and lifted me off the ground, I was choking. I had bought a juice bottle but they threw it away and put me in the car.
His father, Rami, a video journalist, said he was filming nearby at the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City, when he received a call to say Mohammed had been arrested. “I ran to the bus station while they were still there. One of the police said someone had thrown rocks and the suspect was wearing a blue shirt, but everyone in [Mohammed’s] school wears a blue shirt, that’s their uniform.”
Police took Mohammed to a police station on Salahadin Street, where they refused his repeated requests to use the bathroom “for at least an hour,” Mohammed said. “My phone rang, and the police didn’t let me answer it. My mom kept calling and the police threatened to hit me if I answered. There were three of them in the police station, wearing black uniforms, they kicked me and slapped me.”
Mohammed’s father said he followed the police car taking Mohammed to the police station and asked to see his son, but the police refused, so he waited outside. Mohammed said he asked a police officer where his father was, “and the policeman said [my father] had left already, he didn’t care about me, and that I’d be in jail for two months.” Mohammed was taken to the third floor of the police station and questioned, he said. At around 7 p.m., police transferred Mohammed to the Moskobiyya detention center. “An interrogator called me and said to come, but when I got there they had already questioned him,” Rami said. “I brought food for him but they [the police] wouldn’t let me take it inside.”
Interrogators finally permitted Rami to enter the interrogation, he said. Mohammed and his father both said he had denied throwing stones, and that they signed a statement in Hebrew, a language they cannot read, before the police released Mohammed without charge at around 8 p.m. “The interrogator said they wrote in the statement that Mohammed was beaten,” Rami said. “We didn’t get a copy.”
The Justice Ministry, in a written response to Human Rights Watch, said that Mohammed was detained, not arrested, “because he was present at the scene of the incident,” and there “was therefore no reason” to inform him of his legal rights – an account that does not accord with the account of Mohammed nor with his fathers’ description of the interrogation, which included questioning over Mohammed’s personal involvement.
Mohammed’s mother said he stayed home the following day: “He was scared when he got home and couldn’t sleep that night. He told me that every hour he was with the police was like a lifetime.”
In an unrelated incident, Rami said, police harassed and beat him in May 2014 while he was filming Palestinian protests near the Damascus Gate, “because I shouted at them when they were assaulting a blind woman” who was participating in the protest, and that on another occasion he was shot in the back of the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet. Human Rights Watch observed scars on Rami’s body that were consistent with his account, and saw photographs of his head wound and a video of his arrest.
Malak Al-Khatib, 14
Israeli forces arrested Malak Al-Khatib, 14, near the village of Beitin in the West Bank on December 31, 2014, her parents said. Malak’s mother, Khoula, told Human Rights Watch her daughter said “four soldiers beat her with something like a baton” during the arrest until she lost consciousness. “While on the ground, they kicked her and one soldier stepped on her neck,” Khoula said, adding that soldiers then blindfolded her and continued to use violence against her on the ride to the station. Israeli authorities did not notify Malak’s parents about the arrest, they said.
“She had a final exam that morning, in English, and we thought that as usual she had gone for a walk after an exam,” her father, Ali, told Human Rights Watch. “Then the Beitin village council called to say she’d been arrested, but nobody knew where she’d been taken:”
We took a taxi to the Binyamin police station [in a West Bank settlement], because that’s where they usually take kids, at 10 a.m. We waited for about three hours, then a captain saw us and told us, ‘Your daughter has confessed to throwing rocks and that she was carrying a knife.’ We finally got to see her at 2 p.m. She looked pale. We didn’t have a chance to talk to her alone. The investigator was in the room, and he said to her, ‘You did X, Y and Z, is that true?’ It was over in five minutes. Then the officer told us to leave.
Malak later told her mother that the interrogator yelled at her for two hours to confess, slammed his hand on the table, and threatened to bring in her mother and sister and arrest her father, Khoula said. The confession Malak signed was written in Hebrew, but when Malak asked for it to be translated, or told what it meant, the interrogator said she should just sign it so she could get back to her parents, Khoula said.
On January 14, Malak’s lawyer reached a plea-bargain with the military prosecutor: Malak pled guilty to throwing rocks at Road 60, a major road near Beitin used by Israeli settlers, and received a two-month jail sentence and a three year suspended sentence. Her family paid a 6,000 shekel (US$1,560) fine.
Human Rights Watch could not determine whether or not Malak threw stones at moving vehicles on a highway, a potentially dangerous act even if carried out by a child. Regardless, Israeli authorities violated international standards by refusing to allow her parents to attend her interrogation and Israeli military law by failing to notify her parents of her arrest or allowing her to consult with them or a lawyer prior to the interrogation. The military court should have reprimanded the interrogator and clearly indicated that it would not accept her confession, which was written in a language she did not understand, as evidence.
Israeli authorities violated the Fourth Geneva Convention by transferring Malak, a Palestinian resident of occupied territory, outside of the West Bank and detaining her in Israel. In 2010, Israel’s Supreme Court upheld this practice, primarily on the grounds that “Israeli legislation overrides the provisions of international law.” It is a basic principle of international law that states cannot use provisions of their domestic law as justification for not complying with international treaties they are party to, and should ensure that their domestic laws comply with the international standards that bind their country. The Fourth Geneva Convention in its first article requires all state parties, including Israel, to "respect and ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances.”
However, the court found that in this case the Israeli practice of transferring detainees from occupied territory to Israel “does not strike at essential provisions of international law” and that it was warranted in consideration of the circumstances of situation, including the geographic proximity between Israel and the occupied territories. Palestinians contend that such transfers harm their rights despite the geographic proximity, since they are prevented from entering Israel to visit family members in detention, as Malak’s case demonstrates. Malak’s parents, who have West Bank identification documents and are not permitted to enter Israel, were unable to see her in detention from December 31 until her release on February 12, except during five trial hearings at the Ofer military base and court complex, when they were not permitted to speak with her.
“At the hearings in Ofer, she would be brought in handcuffs. One time there was a boy with her in the dock, he was around 15 years old, also in [handcuffs]. We couldn’t call her on the phone while she was in prison,” her mother said.
Khaled Sheikh, 15
Israeli soldiers arrested Khaled Sheikh around 3 p.m. on December 25, 2014, near the separation barrier on the outskirts of the West Bank village of Beit Anan on suspicion of throwing rocks and burning a tire. Khaled told Human Rights Watch that there had been a protest in the area the day before, but that day it was quiet. He was walking with a friend in an area that people from Beit Anan often visit because it has a view beyond the barrier to the sea, Khaled said, when an Israeli soldier hit him from behind with a rifle and he fainted.
“I woke up, my hands were handcuffed behind me. I couldn't see; my eyes were blindfolded and I was on the ground,” he said. Human Rights Watch has seen a medical report from two weeks before Khaled was arrested indicating that he has anemia, a condition discovered after several fainting spells. His friend managed to run away, he said.
Khaled told Human Rights Watch that he was then taken to what he believes, based on the sounds he heard, was a military base. “I was put on a chair next to some stairs the soldiers would hit me on the way up and down for [what seemed like] the 12 hours I was there,” he said. He was then taken to Binyamin Police Station near Ramallah, where, he said, the police removed his blindfold:
Interrogators surrounded me and one of them told me confess to throwing rocks and burning a tire. I told them I didn't do that and I was just walking. He said there were seven eyewitness soldiers against me so I will be found guilty and taken to prison no matter what I say. They threatened they would hit me if I don’t confess and one of them banged on the table. They handed me a paper that had three lines in Arabic and the rest was in Hebrew. The Arabic said I had the right to a lawyer and that I will go to court; they told me to sign it and I did. After that they brought three other pages in Hebrew and said it was the same thing so I signed it. I found out later in court that they had made me sign a confession.
Khaled’s father, Hossam, said a friend who witnessed the arrest told him what happened but he did not know where the army had taken him. At 1 a.m., Hossam said, he went to Binyamin station at the suggestion of a friend and after waiting around an hour he saw his son. “He was handcuffed and there was blood on his face. The blood was on his forehead, there was a bump on the back of his head, and another bruise on his cheekbone. You could see it too at the court hearing,” he said.
Khaled’s family was only able to see him during the five court hearings, but even then they could not speak to him or touch him. Hossam was particularly anxious that the military judge continued to reject the lawyer’s request to allow Khaled to take his medication for anemia despite the medical record; prison officials only began to give him the medication in the final few weeks of his detention, according Khaled’s lawyer, but Khaled insisted he received only acamol, a common pain medication.
Khaled’s lawyer, Akram Samara, told Human Rights Watch that he agreed to a four-month plea bargain deal, rather than face the possibility of an 8-month sentence if convicted, because the military claimed soldiers would testify against Khaled at trial. The court also fined him 2,000 shekels ($520). Khaled was released on April 14, 2015, 10 days before he completed his sentence.
Fares Shyukhi, 15
Israeli police arrested Fares Shyukhi, from the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem, at 4 p.m. on March 6, 2014, on suspicion of throwing rocks and a Molotov cocktail at a settlement in the neighborhood. Fares’s mother, Lawahez, responded to a summons and took him to the Moskobiyya detention facility, where he was arrested, she said. “They said that if I didn’t bring him in they would get him in their own way, which meant raiding our house. So I took him there, but they didn’t let me go inside with him,” she said.
As soon as I went in they strip searched me and then put me in handcuffs. There were seven police, they said “If you don’t talk we’ll beat you.” I refused and they punched and kicked me. For about five minutes. Then they took me to a cell until afternoon the next day, with three other guys, they were 16 and 17 year olds. Then the interrogator said I had to sign three papers, in Hebrew. I couldn’t read them but I didn’t hesitate.
The Justice Ministry told Human Rights Watch that Fares’ mother was present at his interrogation but she denied it and said she was present only when Fares was interrogated after police arrested him on another occasion, on January 26, for violating a house arrest to attend his brother’s court hearing. Police took Fares to a hearing at the Jerusalem magistrates’ court, where a judge extended his detention for three more days, his mother said. “They took me straight back to interrogation after that, and handcuffed my hands in front of me and chained my legs to the chair,” Fares said. “There was one interrogator this time, he slapped me a few times and told me, ‘Give me some names [of people who threw rocks] and I’ll be on your side.’ He never told me what I was suspected of doing.”
The police returned Fares to a cell, where he remained until midnight, when he was awakened and interrogated a third time, he said: “They wanted me to confess to throwing Molotovs, but I didn’t. They kept me until 2 a.m. and then I confessed.” After a second court hearing and a total of 27 days in detention, Fares was moved to HaSharon Prison, inside Israel, then released to house arrest on April 2, his parents said.
“Every two weeks he’d have to go to court, and they’d always extend his house arrest,” Lawahez said. On October 26, Fares was late for a 9 a.m. court hearing, and was arrested when he arrived, jailed, and held until January 6, his mother said. He briefly met Malak K., the 14-year-old girl from Beitin, when police drove them together from HaSharon prison to their separate court hearings, he said.
In February, his mother said, Fares told her that he wanted to kill himself because of his house arrest. “I was worried and told this to our lawyer, from the Prisoner’s Club, and he arranged with the court for Fares’s house arrest to be lifted on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, from 2 to 4 in the afternoon. I had to give the court a guarantee that he wouldn’t violate his conditions.” On March 6, she promised to pay a guarantee of 10,000 shekels ($2,600).
On March 29, the court convicted Fares based on his confession and the testimony of three other boys from the neighborhood, all under 15, his family said. The court fined him 2,000 shekels ($520) and lifted his house arrest after crediting time served to his 100-day sentence. However, Fares said that on April 20, Israeli police detained Fares in the Old City of Jerusalem for breaching his house arrest. They released him after taking him to the station and discovering his house arrest had been lifted.
On May 1, Israeli police detained him again while he was standing outside his house, and beat him, said Lawahez, who was there. She tried to intervene, Lawahez said, but the border police shot sound bombs at her legs. She said she spent three days at the hospital recovering from the shock of the incident. She had dangerously elevated blood pressure and had suffered a heart attack in December 2014.
The Justice Ministry told Human Rights Watch that it has no record of Fares’ detention on either April 20 or May 1.
The conditions of Fares’s house arrest made it impossible for him to go to school, where he had been in grade 8. “At least I could study in prison,” Fares told Human Rights Watch during his house arrest. “My parents are my prison guards now.” At first, Fares was elated to have the house arrest lifted, Lawahez said, but he has been “traumatized” by the two subsequent arrests, and “he now refuses to leave the house because he is afraid soldiers will again harass and arrest him.”
All three of Fares’s older siblings have been convicted of throwing rocks or Molotov cocktails and are in prison. Fares’ parents said that Israeli forces raided the family home in Silwan six times between March 6 and 19, 2014, to arrest their three older sons. “Ali, the oldest, was arrested for the first time when he was 13,” Lawahez said. “This is his third time in jail for throwing rocks.” Her oldest daughter, Suad, was arrested in 2006 for throwing rocks. The family has paid 8,800 shekels ($2,290) in fines related to these arrests.