International law provides special protections to civilian populations under occupation. One aspect of such protection includes safeguards against arbitrary detention and other measures aimed at preserving and maintaining the human dignity of people inside and outside detention centers. In a context of ongoing violations of its most basic obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, Israeli occupation forces continued their policy of arbitrary detention of hundreds of civilians from the occupied Palestinian territory in September 2017. Arbitrary arrests and detention are serious phenomena that continue to be carried out by occupation authorities in various Palestinian governorates and affect all sectors of society, especially children and women.
The following report was prepared by four partner institutions, Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Prisoners’ Affairs Commission and the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. Translation by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.
The report examines the arrests that took place during September and is divided into four parts. The first deals with statistics on the number of Palestinian prisoners, the second on the increasing use of house arrest against children, the third to the campaign of large-scale arrests in Kufl Hares southwest of Nablus, and the fourth provides a legal analysis of the various events reviewed under international humanitarian and human rights law. The report concludes with a set of recommendations and conclusions.
The four organizations reiterate their strong condemnation of Israel’s gross and systematic violations of the rules of international law against Palestinian detainees, especially children, and deplores the continued occupation authorities’ disregard of the legal guarantees provided by the international legal system, in particular the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners of 1955 and other international conventions that ensure the rights of detainees.
The four institutions also call upon the international community to intervene urgently to fulfill its legal and moral obligations towards the population of the occupied Palestinian territories and to take effective measures to compel the occupying state to ensure respect for their rights. It also calls on the local, regional and international levels to activate solidarity campaigns with Palestinian prisoners to pressure the occupying power.
Section One: Statistics on Arrests
In September 2017, the Israeli occupation authorities seized 431 Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territories, including 98 children, 11 women and three journalists.
According to the monitoring and documentation conducted by the four institutions, the Israeli occupation authorities arrested 133 Palestinians from Jerusalem, 60 from al-Khalil, 45 from Nablus, 40 from Ramallah and el-Bireh, 40 from Qalqilya, 38 from Jenin, 28 from Bethlehem, 15 from Tubas, 10 from Salfit, 9 from Tulkarem, 7 from Jericho and 6 from the Gaza Strip.
In the context of the policy of administrative detention, occupation authorities issued 68 administrative detention orders, 24 of which are newly issued.
Despite the fact that this represents a decline in the numbers from the preceding month, this arrest rate still constitutes ongoing mass imprisonment of the Palestinian people. This means that occupation forces arrested roughly 14 people each night for the past month.
The total number of Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails has reached approximately 6300, including 57 women, among them 10 minor girls. There are approximately 300 child prisoners in Israeli prisons and 450 Palestinians held without charge or trial under administrative detention.
Section Two: 250 “house imprisonment” sentences issued against children within a two-year period
Israeli occupation authorities have escalated their arbitrary measures against Palestinian children since the outbreak of the “Jerusalem Intifada” in October 2015, in the context of systematic policies that target Palestinian children.
In this context, Israeli courts issued 250 sentences for “house imprisonment,” mostly against Jerusalemite children, both male and female. These sentences are a substitute for imprisonment and force children not to leave their homes, restrict their freedom and also impose sentences on the entire family, determining who must stay within the house. An adult family member is forced to make a guarantee for this sentence, which turns the family home into a prison and makes parents wardens and supervisors over their children, forcing them to prevent their children from leaving the house even for treatment or study, in accordance with the orders of the Israeli court and threatened with punishment should they diverge.
Section Three: The policy of collective punishment – the campaign of arrests in the village of Kufl Hares
Since the end of August 2017, the village of Kufl Hares southwest of Nablus has witnessed a campaign of arrests by the Israeli occupation army against the youth of the village. The occupation forces accuse the youth of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails on the occupation road that connects the illegal settlements near the village. As of the end of September, there are 19 detainees from age 16 through 24 from the village. During a field visit to the village carried out by Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, the organization observed several punitive measures against the Palestinian villagers.
The main gate of the village that connects its main streets to roads to other cities, like Nablus, Salfit and Ramallah, is fully closed. This forces residents of the village to use unpaved roads that take a much longer time, in order to exit the village. The arrests in the village were accompanied by repeated invasions into homes, late at night, ransacking and looting the contents of the homes by occupation forces. This is in addition to conducting field interrogations against the young people arrested and members of their families, in addition to explicit threats made by intelligence officers against prisoners’ families. The threat made was that if their sons are involved in “acts of terrorism,” the family members will lose their land, including the agricultural land of the village, as well as any permits to enter the occupation state, whether for work or medical treatment. This constitutes collective punishment forbidden under international law.
In a statement to the Addameer Association, M.J., the mother of two prisoners said that:
“On 5 September 2017, the occupation army stormed our home for the third time. There were a large number of infantry soldiers. At the same time, there was an arrest of two of the sons of the village. Our home was raided in a very aggressive, violent way. They searched and rooted through everything. They interrogated my son Mohammed (22) and the officer asked him about the cell phones of the whole family. He threatened to arrest my son Burhan (16), the youngest of them, if we hid any phones and he demanded our passwords. During the interrogation of Mohammed in the other room, we heard their voices screaming and them beating and hitting the walls. Also, in the house, the soldier who identified himself as “Atta” said that ‘Nour, your son who was arrested last month, sends his greetings.’ He also told me that Nour is in the Jalameh interrogation center and that today he came as a surprise to me, by arresting my son Mohammed. Mohammed is now in Megiddo prison and is accused and facing trial in Salem military court. After he had been detained, the army returned and invaded our home for the fourth time. The soldier asked my husband, ‘Do you know why Mohammed and Nour were arrested?’ He replied, ‘I do not know.’ The officer said that they were accused of throwing Molotovs on the main road and that if this is proven the entire family will be affected, we will lose our home, land, and car, and they threatened not to give a permit to his uncle for travel or even treatment for the entire family. After about half an hour, they left the house.”
Another statement was given by N. B., the mother of the detainee Ahmed Bouziya, to Addameer Association:
“They broke into our house and broke down the main door. They invaded and gathered us in the guest room, and we were six people, including my husband and my children, and then they began to ransack the house. They removed the clothes from the cupboards, broke our eggs and mixed the eggs with the flour. They broke apart the contents of the bedroom and after they left, we discovered that they had stolen NIS 2,000 ($500 USD) and my husband told the officer, but they denied it and left. At about 3:15 am on Wednesday, 13 September, while we were sleeping inside our home, the army returned and they invaded our house again, with four soldiers and an intelligence officer. After they invaded, the officer asked my husband about the house we live in, and if it is permitted or not? They also asked if we have property such as a car or land, and the officer told us that our son, Mohammed, is under investigation and that if the charges are proven against him, we will lose the permit for our house, our car and land will be confiscated, and any work permits will be withdrawn, and the entire family will be punished and denied permits to enter the occupation state, even for medical treatment.”
Section Four: Legal Analysis
This report presents the legal protections under international humanitarian and human rights law to detainees, related to the types of Israeli violations during the reporting period and the legal rules that prohibit such violations, as follows:
1 – The arbitrary detention of Palestinian citizens violates the legal guarantees related to the prohibition of arbitrary detention in international human rights law, including article 9 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1976).
2 – The policy of administrative detention by the occupation state, in which detention is carried out on the basis of secret evidence and without any charge against the detainee, constitutes a direct violation of fair trial guarantees under the following legal principles:
a) It is contrary to Article 11 (1) of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that: “Everyone charged with a penal offense has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.”
b) It constitutes a grave violation of articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1976, which guarantees everyone the right to a fair trial, to be informed of the charges against them and to be able to defend themselves.
c) The failure to disclose any charges against the person detained under the administrative detention order precludes every possibility of verifying the compliance of the occupying state with Article 78 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which states that “If the Occupying Power considers it necessary, for imperative reasons of security, to take safety measures concerning protected persons, it may, at the most, subject them to assigned residence or to internment.” It is impossible to verify whether this detention is permitted without knowing what the reasons have been and are.
d) Failure to inform the detained person of the charges against them constitutes a violation of Article 71 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which obliges the occupying power to report charges without delay. They also constitute a violation of article 10 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons in Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment of 1988, which requires the same.
3. The right to education is guaranteed under article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social of Cultural Rights of 1976 and denial of that right violates article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1990.
4. The various forms of ill-treatment during the campaign of arrests carried out by Israeli occupation forces in the village of Kufl Hares, southwest of Nablus governorate, violate article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1976 and article 16/1 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1987.
This report sustains a number of findings, through our analysis of the practices of occupation authorities and the reality of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, as follows:
1) The occupying forces are continuing their gross and systematic violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
2) These Israeli violations have resulted in severe suffering for Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons.
3) The silence of the international community has encouraged the occupying power to increase their violations against Palestinian detainees.
4) The High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions have failed to fulfill their duties and have in fact encouraged the occupation authorities to escalate their violations.
At the conclusion of the report, this series of recommendations is based on the above-mentioned facts and the systematic and gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by the occupying power, as follows:
Recommendations at the international level:
1) Formation of a fact-finding committee by the UN Human Rights Council on Israeli violations against detainees.
2) Activate the mechanisms of accountability by the international community towards the perpetrators of violations in fulfillment of its legal and ethical obligations.
3) The High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions must uphold their responsibilities and pressure the occupying power to respect international humanitarian law.
4) International contracting committees of the Conventions must activate their role to pressure the occupying state to respect the standards for prisoners’ rights.
Recommendations at the local level:
1) Activating local solidarity campaigns with Palestinian prisoners.
2) Media support for detainees through intensified media campaigns.