The IDF’s chief prosecutor for Judea and Samaria, Lt.-Col. Maurice Hirsch, officially announced to The Jerusalem Post new statistics regarding the army’s treatment of Palestinians in seeking to challenge the picture of rampant abuse presented by critics.
One of the most notable statistics Hirsch provided late Monday night, in an exclusive interview and for the first time, indicated that out of around 1,000 Palestinian minors arrested in the year 2013, only 30 filed complaints for abuse.
Another major statistic was that in 2013, IDF prosecutors voluntarily closed approximately 15 percent, or around 100, out of some 660 cases, in which Palestinian minors had been arrested under suspicion of committing crimes.
The revelations come after the Post revealed on Tuesday from the same interview that the IDF would soon start a summons process pilot program to potentially replace a long-standing policy of night arrests of certain Palestinians.
First, Hirsch said that the above statistics contradicted allegations by some that the IDF arrested as many as 200 minors per month or around 2,400 per year.
Also, the picture that the chief West Bank prosecutor same came from these statistics was of a very small number of complaints from arrested Palestinian minors and of IDF prosecutors who exercised their discretion to objectively evaluate evidence before them, and close numerous cases if they were not satisfied with the evidence.
Hirsch said this contrasted with the portrait painted by many critics based on anecdotal evidence that large numbers of Palestinian minors are complaining of abuse and that IDF prosecutors move cases through the system like machines without carefully evaluating the evidence.
He presented a variety of additional statistics, some of which may have recently been presented to other outlets.
They included a breakdown of the 1,000 Palestinian minors arrested in 2013, with 350 of them being turned over to the Palestinian Authority police and 650 of them to Israeli police and security forces.
Of the 650 turned over to Israeli police, 466 have been indicted – the others either having had their cases closed, being part of ongoing investigations or having an indictment in process, but not yet filed.
According to these statistics, fewer than half of the Palestinian minors arrested in 2013 have been indicted (though depending on ongoing investigations, the numbers could rise to around half).
Hirsch gave other statistics to address specific allegations against Israeli treatment of Palestinian minors.
Regarding allegations that Israel indicts and imprisons too many younger minors, he said that in the age 12-13 range, there were only 16 indictments, and that at least one minor was indicted on three occasions, having “returned to commit more serious offenses.”
Next, Hirsch said that 82% of the incidents in 2013 involving minors were “violent in nature” and that there were “a large number of minors involved in terrorist incidents.”
Asked for clarification, he said that the 82% included both terrorist acts, such as the November murder of 18-year-old Eden Atias in Afula, numerous cases of attempted murder, shootings, possessing illegal weapons, membership in terrorist organizations, throwing Molotov cocktails and the range of stone-throwing offenses.
Hirsch cited recent reforms made to shorten detention times for Palestinian minors, from 2009, when a first remand hearing might not occur for eight days, to 24 hours for ages 12-13, 48 hours for ages 14-15 and for ages 16-17 accused of regular criminal offenses and 96 hours for ages 16-17 accused of security offenses – closer to in line with times for Israeli minors.
In October 2013, the state attorney reported great progress in shortening subsequent rounds of pre-indictment remand hearings for Palestinian minors to be comparable to those for Israeli minors.
The remaining differences in that round of detention, according to the State Attorney’s Office, were for Palestinians between the age of 16-18, who still can be detained in the military courts for five days longer than Israelis in civilian courts.
Also, whereas special extensions of detention for suspects aged 16-18 beyond 30 days in Israel require approval of the attorney-general, such extensions of detention for Palestinians of the same age in the military courts do not require approval of the military advocate-general up to 75 days.
A Justice Ministry spokesman emphasized at the time that the government was still working on reducing detention periods and that even the remaining above differences may be changed in the future.