The right to be notified regarding arrest and place of detention is a basic right of both detainees and their families, and is a precondition for the protection of other rights, such as the right to legal counsel and the right to adequate conditions of detention. But while the Israeli authorities are obligated to notify families regarding their loved one's place of detention, the military and the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) do not meet this obligation when it comes to residents of the oPt, and do not even enable Palestinian families to contact them directly and request information. Further, they forbid detainees classified as "security detainees" from communicating with their families. In the vast majority of cases, the only way for families to find out where their loved ones are detained is through HaMoked, which contacts the Military Incarceration Control Center (MICC) – tasked with compiling all detention data and detainee whereabouts from the incarcerating authorities and providing accurate and up-to-date information to HaMoked’s tracing requests.
In the case in hand, as in previous cases, the military’s failure to notify the family about the detainee’s whereabouts compelled HaMoked to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus with the High Court of Justice. Around noon on January 10, 2022, a Palestinian student was arrested by undercover soldiers at the entrance to Birzeit University, and his leg was injured during the arrest. The family heard about his injury and arrest from his friends who had witnessed the incident, but received no notification from the military, and therefore turned to HaMoked for assistance. HaMoked immediately contacted the MICC and stressed the urgency of the case, given the likelihood that the detainee was injured. However, despite the military’s undertaking to provide a response to a tracing request within 24 hours from the time of the request’s submission, more than 24 hours had passed until the MICC laconically announced that the detainee “has not been traced” (emphasis added).
That same day, January 11, 2022, HaMoked filed a habeas corpus petition. During the evening, the State’s Attorney’s Office informed HaMoked that the petitioner was being held at Ofer (the only official Israeli detention facility located in the West Bank, rather than inside Israel), after his leg had been put in a cast at the Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem. Nothing further was added to clarify the earlier failure to trace him.
In its request to delete the petition and receive court costs from the State, HaMoked stressed that this was clearly a case of a preplanned arrest, where the military obviously had the student’s details during the arrest and could have easily informed the family about his whereabouts. HaMoked noted that failure to record his arrest harmed not only the rights of the detainee and his family, but also resulted in a considerable and needless waste of time and resources, including those of the Court.