Israeli soldiers remove a Palestinian youth from a military vehicle in the occupied West Bank village of Burin on September 15, 2016. (Photo: AFP / Jaafar Ashtiyeh)
Ramallah, October 17, 2016—“He asked for my Facebook password,” said Ahmad H., 17, recalling his first interrogation at Ofer military prison on August 1. “I gave it to him. He logged in and said it had inciting photos.”
“I told [the interrogator] of my arrest earlier in April 2016 for 10 days, when I was interrogated [at Shikma prison] in Ashkelon about my Facebook account. I told him I deleted everything upon my release and the account is clean. I told him to check it.”
Ahmad told Defense for Children International – Palestine that his interrogator at that point accused him of “obstructing the interrogation, claiming that I had asked someone to delete the photos, but I denied it.”
The interrogation lasted one hour, during which he had no parent present or access to legal counsel.
On August 7, Ahmad was interrogated again, this time for three hours.
“[The interrogator] kept questioning me about posting inciting pictures on my Facebook account. I told him I had not posted anything after my release and I had not asked anyone to delete the ones I had posted.”
Three days later, on August 10, Israeli authorities placed Ahmad under administrative detention for six months.
“Israeli authorities must immediately stop using administrative detention against Palestinian minors,” said Brad Parker, attorney and international advocacy officer at DCIP. “Inability to file charges against children due to lack of evidence should never be grounds for holding them indefinitely without charge or trial.”
At least four other Palestinian teenagers, all below 18, received administrative detention orders following accusations that included inciting or threatening to commit violence in Facebook posts.
Fadi J., 16, spent nearly seven months in administrative detention for posting a picture of a rifle on his Facebook page. The interrogator accused him of plotting to carry out an attack.
“He showed me a picture of an AK-47 rifle that he downloaded from my Facebook page, but I told him it was just a picture,” Fadi told DCIP. “He then claimed that I threaten the security of Israel.”
On September 2, Israeli authorities released Fadi without filing any charges against him.
In mid-September, Facebook agreed to work with the Israeli government in tackling incitement on the social media network, the Associated Press reported. Palestinian activists claimed that Israel had effectively won the right to censor their freedom of speech.
Since unrest broke out in October last year, DCIP has documented the use of administrative detention against 19 Palestinian children. Six of them remain in administrative detention, including two that have since turned 18 years old.
Eleven of the children have been released without charge after spending between three and eight months in jail. Two have been charged, convicted, and imprisoned after three months in administrative detention.
Administrative detention permits military commanders or government officials to incarcerate individuals without charge or trial based on secret evidence.
In the occupied West Bank, where military law applies to the Palestinian population only, Israeli Military Order 1651 permits administrative detention for up to six months, subject to indefinite renewals.
Prior to October, Israel had not held a Palestinian child from the West Bank under administrative detention since December 2011.
Israeli authorities rely on the Emergency Powers Law to authorize the use of administrative detention in Jerusalem. In October 2015, Israel used administrative detention against Palestinian children from East Jerusalem for the first time.
Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts each year that lack fundamental fair trial rights.
International juvenile justice standards, which Israel has obliged itself to implement by ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1991, demand that children should only be deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort and must not be unlawfully or arbitrarily detained.
DCIP considers all persons below the age of 18 to be children in accordance with the CRC.