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Pilot limiting night arrests of Palestinian kids falls short

The Israeli army implemented a pilot program last year to serve Palestinian children with summonses instead of snatching them from their beds in the middle of the night. Some of those summonses, however, were delivered by soldiers in the middle of the night.

By Gerard Horton

Night raid in Nabi Saleh 24 November 2011.

Night raid in Nabi Saleh 24 November 2011.

Following widespread criticism of the the Israeli army’s use of night raids to arrest minors in the West Bank, in February 2014 military authorities announced a pilot program to issue minors with summonses instead. The thinking behind using summonses is that you limit the need for night raids, which generally terrify individual households and entire neighborhoods.

Further, if a minor — accompanied by a parent — voluntarily presents himself at a police station during the day in response to a summons, reports of physical violence, painful hand ties, blindfolds and other abuses that frequently accompany night arrests are also likely to decline.

For six months commencing in early 2014, the military operated the pilot program in the Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron districts. In or about September 2014, however, the program was temporarily suspended due to “increased violence.” As odd as it may sound, the military authorities said that they did not keep any statistics relating to the program during this period, making it difficult to understand how they intended to assess its success or otherwise.

During the same period UNICEF documented 24 cases in which summonses were issued to minors. After assessing this evidence, the UN agency noted that some of the summonses were actually delivered by soldiers in terrifying night-time raids. Violations also continued to be reported during the subsequent interrogation process at military detention centers or police stations. Similar conclusions were reached by Military Court Watch which also found that the military used summonses in approximately nine percent of cases in 2014.

Based on recent evidence it appears that the pilot program recommenced sometime in early 2015 and is now being implemented in about five percent of cases. However, even this limited use of summonses is not without significant and avoidable shortcomings

For instance: Summonses are still being delivered by the military after midnight; Relevant parts of the summonses are frequently handwritten in Hebrew without translation; Relevant information, such as the nature of the accusation, is missing; Although the military acknowledges that there is a discretion to permit a parent to accompany a child during interrogation, this safeguard is being denied in almost every case and the parent is made to wait outside or go home; and, no reference to the child’s legal rights is included in the summons.

While arresting minors at night may be necessary in exceptional circumstances, in 35 percent of night arrest cases documented by Military Court Watch this year (collected prior to the latest unrest), the minor was released without charge within a few hours or days, calling into question the necessity for a terrifying night raid on the child’s home in the first place. In another 35 percent of cases, the minor was released on bail, suggesting that he was not seen as a particular threat to security that would warrant a night-time arrest.

One possible explanation as to why minors are still being detained in the middle of the night in most cases is that night raids on Palestinian homes located in close proximity to Israeli settlements is generally an effective way of intimidating the community into submission and ensuring the viability of the settlement project in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. However, although generally effective at maintaining control over these communities, it should come as no surprise that this policy gives rise to simmering and potentially explosive, resentment.

Gerard Horton is a lawyer and co-founder of Military Court Watch. 

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    1. Ben

      That’s apartheid.

      Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Netanyahu’s apartheid vision for Israel’s future
          In the real world, outside the realm of speechmaking, Netanyahu is only ready to hold empty and aimless talks with the Palestinians.


          “The regime described in Netanyahu’s vision has a name – it’s called apartheid. There is no other term for two populations living in the same area, one with political rights and the other under perennial military occupation.”

          Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Watch the video in my previous post and argue with a black South African who experienced REAL, apartheid, Benny.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brendan

            You seem to be a very angry person. I guess it is frustrating trying to defend the indefensible. Israel is a pariah state that is constantly undermining it’s own legitimacy.

            Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          As Noam Sheizaf said somewhere, the apartheid analogy is not perfect because It misses unique characteristics of Israel’s military regime in the occupied territories but it is useful in illustrating some aspects of the occupation, especially the separate legal systems for Israelis and Palestinians. But I maintain that Israel and its occupied territories indeed constitute an apartheid state. It meets the definition of an apartheid state laid out in Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the ICC: a state that commits inhumane acts in the context of an “institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

          The mistake many make–including the South African minister–is to say that there are differences between Greater Israel and Apartheid South Africa and to assume that that is decisive. But that’s wrong. Those differences, while they are real, are not defining, while some crucial similarities are defining. The Rome Statute does not refer to South Africa in its definition of apartheid. South Africa was one example of apartheid, not the exclusive model of apartheid. Don’t get me wrong, there are many terrible things South Africa did that Israel has not done, or done to the same degree, but again, those differences are not determinative.

          Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            If Israel is apartheid then any country which is or which ever was involved in a war was or is apartheid.

            By the way, it’s funny how the (racist) Bennies of this world quote UN institutions selectively when it suits them. But ignore old UN resolutions which the Arabs chose to ignore.

            Did you know who chairs the human right council of the UN today, Benny (you little racist)? Saudi Arabia does. They are paragon champions of human rights, right Benny (you little racist)?

            Benny is unembarassable folks.

            Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Roy Isacowitz explains. See also the supporting opinion of Bradley Burston that Roy links to:

          Apartheid policies put Israel on path to becoming failed state
          It is not right-wing governments that institutionalized racial domination here; the process started decades before they took power.

          Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Was Ehud Barak’s peace initiative an apartheid policy Benny? Was Ehud Olmert’s peace initiative apartheid policy Benny? Your Palestinian Arabs said no to all of those initiatives which would have resulted in the end of the occupation. They preferred violence and terrorism instead because they still hope to end the existence of the only Jewish state in the world and they still want to replace our state by the 23rd Arab Muslim state. That is supremacism for you Benny. And you support that either because a well heeled Arab oil Sheik pays a handsome salary to you or because yo are a racist. More likely for both reasons.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Ehud Barak’s inadequate and deceptive (we’ve been over this) initiative was not by itself an apartheid policy. The question itself is not logical. But it was an initiative in the service of sustaining an apartheid regime unwilling to pay a fair price for peace and for extricating itself from its apartheid policies. Ok? Glad we cleared that up.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            “unwilling to pay a fair price for peace”

            Yep Benny, you sure cleared it up. Peace benefits only us. Not your daaaarlink Palestinian Arabs according to you.

            That’s why you are using language that implies SELLING peace. That reveals what you lot are all about.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Two can play this game. You like stuff for free? You’re a taker? You’re into real estate theft? Embezzlement? (Are you on welfare? HimmelHabicht will be scandalized.) That kind of language reveals what you lot are all about. LoL.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            What games Benny? You were the one who said…

            “Unwilling to pay a fair price for peace”

            That implies that your Palestinian Arabs have the right TO SELL peace…

            By “your lot” I meant people like YOU. Yes YOUSE, specifically, Benny.

            What did you think, Benny? Did you think I am a racist like you?

            Reply to Comment
    2. bigmike

      What an effective way to radicalise young Palestinian people. Israel must respect International law and withdraw from the occupied territories.

      Reply to Comment