Police arrest Palestinians outside the Old City, July 2017.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Police mistreat Palestinian minors suspected of crimes in east Jerusalem as part of a larger policy to force their families to leave the city, NGOs B’Tselem and HaMoked alleged in a report published on Wednesday morning.
“These practices cannot be viewed as separate from the policy of Israeli authorities to encourage Palestinian residents to leave east Jerusalem,” the left-wing NGOs said.
''These teenagers are taken into custody in the middle of the night from their bedrooms and handcuffed. They are interrogated without proper access to a lawyer or their parents, so that they do not fully understand their rights,'' B’Tselem and HaMoked said.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld dismissed the report.
“Once again the organization B’Tselem is putting out inaccurate and misleading information,” Rosenfeld said.
He said that the police follow the legal protocols for such detentions, adding that he was present last week when minors were detained, and they were accompanied by both their lawyer and their parents.
The report, entitled “Youth in Detention: Preventing Mistreatment of Detained Palestinian Minors in East Jerusalem,” was funded by the EU. It examined 60 affidavits regarding the detention of Palestinian minors for suspected stone throwing incidents.
Police placed the teens in custody from May 2015 to October 2016, a period that largely coincides with the wave of violence, sometimes called the “third intifada,” that began in September 2015. East Jerusalem was one of the more contentious areas during that period, particularly in the first two months of the attacks.
But the overall number of arrests was much larger, according to B’Tselem and HaMoked. From January 2014 to August 2016, the police detained 1,737 Palestinian boys from east Jerusalem, aged 12 to 17.
The NGOs alleged that the teens were not arrested, interrogated or held in accordance with the law, and provided examples.
“Physical restraints may be used on minors only in exceptional cases, yet the affidavits show that this is the rule rather than the exception.
In 81% of the cases, the boys were handcuffed before being placed in the vehicle that took them to the interrogation site; 70% were kept in restraints during the interrogation sessions,” B’Tselem and HaMoked said.
“Israeli law prohibits interrogating minors at night, subject to specific exceptions. Nevertheless, a quarter of the boys said they were interrogated at night, in contravention of the law. Ninety-one percent of boys who were arrested at home were arrested at night, and some arrived at the interrogation after a sleepless night,” the groups said.
They added that 25% of the minors complained that some degree of violence had been used during the interrogation.
Such practices will only stop when Israel ends its “occupation” of east Jerusalem, the Israeli NGOs said.
“The reality described in this report is part of the underpinnings of Israeli control over the Palestinian population of east Jerusalem,” B’Tselem and HaMoked said.
“So long as this control continues, Israeli authorities will in all probability continue to treat Palestinians in east Jerusalem as unwanted, less equal people, with all that implies,” the NGOs continued. “Real change will come only if the reality in Jerusalem is completely overhauled.”
The right-wing group NGO Monitor said that the report was flawed because it did not provide a broader context or comparative data with regard to police practice toward both Jewish and Palestinian teens.
“All Jerusalem residents, whether Israeli or Palestinian, are subject to the same Israeli law and face the same justice system. For instance, Jewish minors are also detained at the Russian Compound, so any deficiencies do not reflect ‘institutional, systemic discrimination’ against Palestinian residents as stated by the [report’s] authors,” NGO Monitor said.