Center for the Defence of the Individual - HaMoked in a complaint to the military: night arrest of a Palestinian minor deteriorated into sexual abuse
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חזרה לעמוד הקודם

HaMoked in a complaint to the military: night arrest of a Palestinian minor deteriorated into sexual abuse

On July, 5, 2022, HaMoked sent to the military a complaint on behalf of AA, who had suffered beatings, ill-treatment and sexual abuse at the hand of soldiers following his arrest from his home in the early hours of January 12, 2022. The incident took place in the context of the military’s ongoing, pernicious policy of preplanned night arrests of Palestinian minors, rather than using summons as the default to bring minors in for interrogation. These traumatic night arrests are routinely accompanied by violence, and often cause long-term mental harm not only to the detainees but also to the rest of their family, including younger siblings. 

In AA’s case, during the raid of his home, soldiers seized his father without any cause, handcuffed him and made him sit outside, separated from his wife and children. The soldiers also forcefully took away the mobile phone of AA’s older sister when she tried to document their actions. And when his younger sisters, 13 and 4, started crying, one of the soldiers picked up the 4-year-old, sat her on the sofa and ordered her not to move, preventing her from going to her mother.

AA himself was taken from his home handcuffed and blindfolded. He was made to sit in the spare wheel storage of the military vehicle, rather than in the safety of a passenger seat, even though being handcuffed meant he could not properly stabilize himself during the bumpy ride. At the beginning of the ride, stones were thrown at the vehicle, and each time the vehicle was struck, soldiers would hit AA with the butt of their weapons. The military vehicle stopped at a military base, and there AA was made to sit outside on a wooden platform for at least four hours, exposed to the extreme winter cold. His request to be taken inside out of the cold was denied. And even when he asked to go to the bathroom, he was taken to relieve himself out in the open.

Up to this point, AA’s experience was typical of soldiers’ ill-treatment and violence during a night arrest a Palestinian minor. But then the abuse escalated: shortly before he was transferred, about five soldiers decided without any reason or legal justification, to strip-search the minor who was still blindfolded; this, despite the fact that such a search is allowed only when there is a suspicion that the person is in possession of a prohibited and dangerous object – which is extremely unlikely under the circumstances, given that AA had been constantly guarded by soldiers since his arrest hours earlier. Completely naked and vulnerable, AA was then ordered to repeatedly squat and stand up, while the soldiers were laughing at him and photographing him. The soldiers continued laughing and photographing him even as one of the soldiers exposed his genitals and brought them close to the boy’s mouth. AA told HaMoked’s attorney that he heard everything and also saw from under his blindfold what the soldiers were doing, none of whom came to his rescue to stop the abuse and humiliation.

In its complaint, HaMoked wrote that violence and sexual abuse towards a handcuffed and blindfolded person who is clearly helpless and poses no threat, is a grave, cruel and inhuman act, amounting to torture when the victim is a minor. HaMoked noted that despite this being an exceptional case, several aspects of it reflect widespread practices among Israeli soldiers, which the military has made no serious attempt to eradicate. HaMoked clarified that this failure to act raises the concern that such practices were in fact features of the military’s policy towards the population of the oPt, minors and adults alike. HaMoked asserted that such systematic and routine conduct was contrary to international law which obligates all the military’s actions in the oPt. HaMoked’s complaint also addressed the fact that the military continued to allow soldiers to use their private mobile phones to photograph Palestinian detainees, for no other reason than their own amusement, which was both illegal and immoral as well as a blatant violation of the detainees’ rights to dignity and privacy.  

In conclusion, HaMoked demanded that the military conduct a serious and substantive investigation regarding this complaint, put the offending soldiers on trial, and act rigorously to eradicate the widespread phenomenon of violent night arrests of Palestinian minors.

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