High Court decision in HaMoked’s petition: the state must provide an update regarding implementation of the new classified procedure to summon Palestinian minors to interrogation as an alternative to night arrests
On November 22, 2020, HaMoked petitioned
the High Court of Justice (HCJ) to compel the Israeli security forces to cease the widespread practice of night arrests of Palestinian minors in the West Bank, and to rely on a summons via their parents as the first recourse when minors are wanted for interrogation. The petition was based on dozens of affidavits of minors who had been arrested from their homes late at night, collected by HaMoked for its 2020 report on the issue
. The affidavits indicate that night arrests are highly traumatic and accompanied by numerous violations of basic rights, yet are used by the military as the default for bringing in minors for interrogation, without giving the minors the opportunity to arrive voluntarily in response to a summons.
In its May 2, 2021 response to the petition
, the state argued the petition should be dismissed given the absence of any binding provisions in international law and the law in force in the oPt regarding the timing and manner of arresting minors. On July 29, 2021, just a few days before the scheduled hearing of the petition, the state submitted an additional response to update the court about a new procedure formulated by the military and the Israel Police regarding “the summoning of suspected minors before a pre-planned arrest in the Samaria and Judea Area [i.e. the West Bank]”. The procedure itself is classified; the state provided only its “unclassified core”.
According to the “core of the procedure”, summons will not be used for minors “required for interrogation not by the Israel Police” or minors suspected of “severe offences” or “with a criminal record of severe offences”. As “severe offence” is not defined in the document provided, but is known to cover a wide range of offences, there is reason for concern that little will actually change and that most Palestinian minors wanted for interrogation would not be summoned but would continue to be arrested in a traumatic manner late at night.
The state stressed that its position was still that the petition should be dismissed, or at a minimum that the hearing should be cancelled to enable the petitioners to submit a revised petition. HaMoked objected to this proposal and the hearing took place on August 2, 2021.
At the hearing, the state clarified that the procedure had entered into force the previous day, August 1, 2021. The court left the petition pending and ordered the state to submit an updating notice by February 1, 2022, which should include data “regarding the numeric ratio between the summons of minors for interrogation not by way of nighttime arrest and nighttime arrest in the circumstances permitted by the procedure”. HaMoked would then be allowed to submit a revised petition within thirty days and thereupon the court will decide how to proceed with the case.