Military Court Watch – Newsletter July 2017

Aug 2, 2017No Comments »

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Web: | Twitter: @MCourtWatch

Newsletter – July 2017

Detention figures

According to the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), as of 31 May 2017, there were 6,020 Palestinians (West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza) held as “security prisoners” in Israeli detention facilities including 331 children (12-17 years). In the case of children there was a 9 percent increase in the number compared with the previous month but an annual decrease of 18 percent compared with 2016. These figures include 2 children held without charge or trial in administrative detention. According to the IPS, 74 percent of child detainees were transferred and detained inside Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. A further 1,673 Palestinians were held as “criminal prisoners” including 17 children.
More statistics >> 

Night arrest of children

Based on evidence collected in 2017, 52 percent of children detained by the Israeli military in the West Bank report being arrested from home at night. This percentage has remained largely constant since the UK report and UNICEF report [pdf] highlighted concerns in 2012/13. While there may be grounds to arrest a child at night in extreme and unusual circumstances, the overwhelming majority of children do not fall into this category. However, from a military perspective there are tactical advantages in arresting children at night and terrifying Palestinian civilians living in close proximity to settlements as a means to intimidate and dampen resistance. These tactical advantages offer one explanation as to why the percentage of night arrests remains relatively unchanged in 5 years in spite of international attention.
Comparative Graph >>

Summonses in lieu of night arrests

Based on evidence collected in 2017, 4 percent of children detained by the Israeli military in the West Bank report being served with a summons in lieu of being arrested in the middle of the night. A pilot scheme to issue summonses in lieu of night arrests was introduced in 2014 and appears to have reached a peak in 2015 with summonses issued in 10 percent of cases. The scheme’s introduction followed widespread criticism of detaining children at night in terrifying military raids on their homes. In cases where summonses are used most continue to delivered at night, frequently lack meaningful details, are sometimes partially written in Hebrew and provide no information about the child’s legal rights under Israeli military law.
Comparative Graph >>

Palestinian children arrested by the Israeli military in the West Bank on average live within 1.02 km from a settlement

In order to protect approximately 400,000 Israeli civilian settlers living in the occupied West Bank, the military is compelled to adopt a strategy of intimidation and collective punishment focused on Palestinian communities located in proximity to the settlements and their associated road networks, such as Routes 60 and 443. Not only is this theory supported by evidence from former Israeli soldiers, it is also supported by evidence collected by MCW during 2016. Out of 127 cases documented by MCW in 2016, 125 children resided and were arrested within an average of 1.02 kilometres from a settlement or major road used by settlers.
MCW Report [pdf] >>

A child’s testimony

On 16 May 2017, a 14-year-old boy from Azzun was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 2:30 a.m. and accused of throwing stones and setting fire to tyres. He reports being interrogated without prior access to a lawyer in accordance with his right under Israeli military law. Azzun is located approximately 0.8 km from the settlement of Ma’ale Shomeron. “I was still awake at around 2:30 a.m. when I saw on Facebook that Israeli soldiers were in the village making arrests. Shortly afterwards I heard commotion around the house. I looked out the window and I saw a large number of soldiers and military jeeps outside. I realised they were coming to our house. Moments later my 17-year-old sister walked into my bedroom shivering; she could hardly talk.”

A soldier’s video testimony: “What are demonstrations of presence?”

In this video a former Israeli soldier provides a testimony to Breaking the Silence about how the army makes its presence felt in Palestinian villages even when there is no immediate security concern as a means to intimidate the Palestinian civilian population in the West Bank. “Once in a while we demonstrate a presence … an action without a specific intelligence alert … and what is it, in practice? It’s walking around and making noise, shooting … throwing stun grenades, detaining people for no reason … whose objective is to intimidate or show that the company is serious, controlling the region and you can never know where they’ll be, the soldiers are everywhere.”
Watch video >>

MCW Annual Report

This report considers developments relating to the arrest and detention of children by the Israeli military in the West Bank in 2016/17. In addition to reviewing relevant legal and procedural changes the report considers the findings from 127 testimonies collected from detained children. While noting a number of relevant changes in the system in recent years, the evidence suggests this has not translated into a significant improvement in practice. The report also considers: unlawful transfer and detention; unlawful discrimination inherent in applying dual legal systems in one territory; accountability; implementation of UK and UNICEF recommendations; and a geographical link between child detention and the settlements.
MCW Report >>

Source: Military Court Watch, Newsletter, Jul. 2017 >>

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