RAMALLAH: A legal institution has appealed to an Israeli court to stop the Israel Defense Force from arresting Palestinian minors at their homes at night and taking them for interrogation.
The HaMoked Center for the Defense of the Individual — an Israeli center based in East Jerusalem — submitted a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court against the IDF’s sweeping use of night arrests of Palestinian minors. The petition calls for the process to be regulated, with minors summoned for interrogation accompanied by their families.
Critics say the arrest of minors with handcuffs and blindfolds causes shock both for those detained and their relatives.
According to HaMoked, from September to December 2021, 34 Palestinian minors were arrested in the West Bank, with only six summoned for interrogation accompanied by family.
“It should be the last option for a soldier to invade a family home in the middle of the night and drag a teenage boy from his bed, as the military should exhaust all possible ways to bring someone in for questioning before they engage in this very traumatic practice for the kid who is being detained, and for the whole family,” Jessica Montell, director general of HaMoked, told Arab News.
Montell said her institution has been arguing with the Israeli military for several years on this point, and that the IDF has promised to follow it up. But, as is evident from new data, night arrests of Palestinian teenage boys are still the default method for bringing them for interrogation, rather than summoning them alongside their parents.
According to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, about 180 minors are languishing in Israeli jails.
In 2021, the IDF escalated the targeting of Palestinian children, as cases of arrests reached 1,000, including 73 below the age of 14.
“The increasing number of arrests of Palestinian minors confirms that it has become a policy of the Israeli Army and is not necessarily linked to the occurrence of events. The problem is not in the timing, form or method of arrest, but rather in the torture and psychological pressure that the children are exposed to after arrest, away from their families and lawyers,” Qdura Faris, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, told Arab News.
Faris also expressed his deep concern over the newly adopted Israeli policy of home confinement for minors, especially in East Jerusalem.
In this arrangement, homes are transformed into a prison for the child after their father pays a bail of around $6,000. If the imprisoned child violates any procedure, the amount will be confiscated by the Israeli authorities.
The imprisonment sentence, in some cases, is replaced with exorbitant fines that may reach up to $3,000.
The IDF has also allegedly arrested children while returning from school or playing near homes or at checkpoints for things such as Facebook posts.
“We expect the Supreme Court to put an end to the matter, and we call on it to instruct the army to exhaust any other alternative before it breaks into homes at night and drags the teenagers from their beds,” Montell said.