On 10 February 2008 HaMoked submitted a suit relating to an incident in which two minors were unlawfully detained and imprisoned by the military. On the day of the event, the two plaintiffs threw stones at military vehicles patrolling the perimeter fence of the airfield close to Kalandiya. Shortly thereafter soldiers appeared, dressed in camouflage uniforms and their faces blackened. The soldiers surprised the children from behind and aimed their weapons at them. The children began to run away, but after a short distance they stopped and raised their hands in the air. The soldiers took the children into the airfield at Atarot, and shortly thereafter a military jeep arrived. A soldier got out and slapped them on the face. The minors were forced to kneel on the ground with their hands behind their back. They started to cry but the soldiers told them to be quiet.
Shortly thereafter, the soldiers transferred the children to a military base nearby, dragging them by their shirt collars and placing them in an empty container. The children were given food, a bottle of water, a bed, a mattress, and a sleeping bag. An armed soldier was placed on guard outside the container. The children continued to cry; another soldier who came along later cursed them. A further soldier placed on guard threatened the children that if they refused to “confess” to throwing stones, “their hands would be chopped off.” In the afternoon the children were taken to a police station and told that if they failed to confess they would be held in prison. An Arabic-speaking soldier attempted to extract information from the children about residents of Atarot who have connections with Hamas. When the children failed to respond to his questions, he threatened that if they refused to speak he would set dogs on them and break their hands with a hammer. Later in the evening the soldiers photographed the children, probably for the soldiers’ personal amusement.
The children spent the cold night in the container. In the morning the soldiers brought them breakfast. At lunch they were taken to Beitunia junction where they were released and collected by Palestinian security personnel. During the 28 hours in which the children were held by the military and the police (of which they spent 24 hours in the container), their families received no official notification of their detention.
HaMoked’s complaints to the investigative bodies relating to this serious incident went unanswered for over a year. When the military prosecutor for the Central Command finally deigned to respond to the complaints, he argued that the case involved a mere “holding” which “was prolonged unnecessarily due to a misunderstanding.” The prosecutor confined his actions to emphasizing the instructions and guidelines, and did not see fit to take any legal steps against those involved in the incident.
In the suit HaMoked emphasizes that Israeli law and law in the Territories do not permit the detention of children under the age of 12, and do not recognize “holding” of more than three hours. The minors are demanding compensation for unlawful incarceration, assault, and injury to privacy, and for constitutional torts – injury to liberty, dignity, and the right to due process.