Despite concerns raised by the international community, the army suspends a pilot program meant to lessen the number of Palestinian children arrested in night raids.
By Gerard Horton
A pilot program by the Israeli army in order to lessen the number of Palestinian children arrested in nighttime raids has been suspended, according to Israel’s chief military prosecutor.
The program was announced by Israel’s military authorities in February 2014, and called for issuing written summonses instead of arresting children during night raids in the West Bank. The announcement followed concerns raised in the UK, The Netherlands and Australia about the devastating impact of repeated nighttime incursions into Palestinian communities. In 2013, UNICEF published a report that graphically described these nighttime arrests as follows:
Many of the children arrested at home wake up to the frightening sound of soldiers banging loudly on their front door and shouting instructions for the family to leave the house. For some of the children, what follows is a chaotic and frightening scene, in which furniture and windows are sometimes broken, accusations and verbal threats are shouted, and family members are forced to stand outside in their night clothes as the accused child is forcibly removed from the home and taken away with vague explanations such as ‘he is coming with us and we will return him later,’ or simply that the child is ‘wanted.’ Few children or parents are informed as to where the child is being taken, why or for how long.
On January 15, 2015, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders made a statement to the Dutch Parliament on the progress being made in implementing the pilot program. Koenders informed Parliament that on November 12, 2014, a conversation took place with Israel’s chief military prosecutor in the West Bank in which it was stated that the pilot program began in February 2014 in both the Nablus and Hebron districts.
According to data collected by Military Court Watch, there was a 5 percent reduction in the number of children arrested at night during the period in which the pilot program was operational. However, in 67 percent of cases in which summonses were issued, they were delivered by the military after midnight in a process that continues to terrify the civilian population. And despite the slight improvements brought upon by the plan, the military did not keep any statistics on the...Read More