HaMoked in new report on Israel’s pervasive night arrests of Palestinian children: Despite new procedure, in 2022, the military did not summon children for interrogation, arresting them even for minor offenses המוקד להגנת הפרט
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16.01.2023
HaMoked in new report on Israel’s pervasive night arrests of Palestinian children: Despite new procedure, in 2022, the military did not summon children for interrogation, arresting them even for minor offenses
HaMoked in new report on Israel’s pervasive night arrests of Palestinian children: Despite new procedure, in 2022, the military did not summon children for interrogation, arresting them even for minor offenses

On January 16, 2023, HaMoked published On Flimsy Grounds: Israel’s Pervasive Night Arrests of Palestinian Children, its third report in five years concerning this issue.

The report covers the latest developments in HaMoked’s litigation challenging Israel’s policy of night arrests and reveals new data. In late 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 children in the West Bank, and to rely on a summons via their parents as the first recourse when children are wanted for interrogation. The petition was based on dozens of affidavits of children who had been thus arrested, indicating that pre-planned night arrests are highly traumatic and accompanied by numerous violations of basic rights, yet are used by the security forces as the default for bringing in children for interrogation.

In its July 2021 response to the petition, the State announced a classified procedure had been formulated by the military and the Israel Police regarding “the summoning of suspected children before a pre-planned arrest in the Samaria and Judea Area [i.e. the West Bank]”. The State stressed that the new procedure would not apply to children “required for interrogation not by the Israel Police” or children suspected of “severe offences” or “with a criminal record of severe offences”. The Court ordered the State to submit an updating notice, after which HaMoked would be allowed to submit a revised petition. In February 2022, the State submitted to the Court official data regarding the implementation of the procedure in 2021 rom which it emerged that nothing had changed on the ground.  

Therefore, on March 2, 2022, HaMoked submitted a revised petition to the HCJ, reiterating its demand that summons be used as the primary method for bringing Palestinian children for interrogation and that the new procedure be amended to bring about actual change on the ground.

On August 8, 2022, the State finally submitted its response to the updated petition, arguing that there was no call for judicial intervention, that there was no legal obligation to refrain from night arrests and that the procedure was never intended to have a significant impact on the scope of arrests of children in the West Bank.  

New data compiled by HaMoked for submission to the Court show that in 2022, Israel continued and even exacerbated its unlawful practice of night arrests of children: Of the 125 families who contacted HaMoked this past year over the pre-planned night arrest of a child from his home, none received a summons beforehand. Moreover, the data revealed in the new report clearly suggests that almost all children thus arrested were not suspected of severe offences, as indicated by the fact that most of them were released soon after the arrest without any charges.

The report concludes that it seems the majority of these arrests are nothing short of arbitrary arrests, and that Israel’s refusal to alter its conduct in this matter leads to the conclusion that these arbitrary arrests are, in fact, a means to frighten and intimidate the population.

The petition is to be heard on March 2, 2023. Meanwhile, the Israeli military continues to subject children and their families to the lasting trauma of an unexpected nighttime invasion to their homes.

* The hearing was postponed and took place on May 29, 2023. At the hearing, the justices reviewed the classified procedure in camera, and asked specifically about HaMoked documentation of the detention of 13- and 14-year-olds who had been released the following day. The Court proposed that the State consider full disclosure of the procedure as well as revision in order to establish a substantive distinction between the various ages of children. The State was given 30 days to submit a response.

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On January 16, 2023, HaMoked published On Flimsy Grounds: Israel’s Pervasive Night Arrests of Palestinian Children, its third report in five years concerning this issue.

The report covers the latest developments in HaMoked’s litigation challenging Israel’s policy of night arrests and reveals new data. In late 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 children in the West Bank, and to rely on a summons via their parents as the first recourse when children are wanted for interrogation. The petition was based on dozens of affidavits of children who had been thus arrested, indicating that pre-planned night arrests are highly traumatic and accompanied by numerous violations of basic rights, yet are used by the security forces as the default for bringing in children for interrogation.

In its July 2021 response to the petition, the State announced a classified procedure had been formulated by the military and the Israel Police regarding “the summoning of suspected children before a pre-planned arrest in the Samaria and Judea Area [i.e. the West Bank]”. The State stressed that the new procedure would not apply to children “required for interrogation not by the Israel Police” or children suspected of “severe offences” or “with a criminal record of severe offences”. The Court ordered the State to submit an updating notice, after which HaMoked would be allowed to submit a revised petition. In February 2022, the State submitted to the Court official data regarding the implementation of the procedure in 2021 rom which it emerged that nothing had changed on the ground.  

Therefore, on March 2, 2022, HaMoked submitted a revised petition to the HCJ, reiterating its demand that summons be used as the primary method for bringing Palestinian children for interrogation and that the new procedure be amended to bring about actual change on the ground.

On August 8, 2022, the State finally submitted its response to the updated petition, arguing that there was no call for judicial intervention, that there was no legal obligation to refrain from night arrests and that the procedure was never intended to have a significant impact on the scope of arrests of children in the West Bank.  

New data compiled by HaMoked for submission to the Court show that in 2022, Israel continued and even exacerbated its unlawful practice of night arrests of children: Of the 125 families who contacted HaMoked this past year over the pre-planned night arrest of a child from his home, none received a summons beforehand. Moreover, the data revealed in the new report clearly suggests that almost all children thus arrested were not suspected of severe offences, as indicated by the fact that most of them were released soon after the arrest without any charges.

The report concludes that it seems the majority of these arrests are nothing short of arbitrary arrests, and that Israel’s refusal to alter its conduct in this matter leads to the conclusion that these arbitrary arrests are, in fact, a means to frighten and intimidate the population.

The petition is to be heard on March 2, 2023. Meanwhile, the Israeli military continues to subject children and their families to the lasting trauma of an unexpected nighttime invasion to their homes.

* The hearing was postponed and took place on May 29, 2023. At the hearing, the justices reviewed the classified procedure in camera, and asked specifically about HaMoked documentation of the detention of 13- and 14-year-olds who had been released the following day. The Court proposed that the State consider full disclosure of the procedure as well as revision in order to establish a substantive distinction between the various ages of children. The State was given 30 days to submit a response.

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