Ramallah, June 15, 2015—Israeli forces arrested a 15-year-old Palestinian teen with dual American citizenship at a checkpoint in the West Bank town of Silwad on June 3.
Taleb Hamed, 15, was in a taxi returning home from Ramallah around 12:30 p.m. when he was stopped at a makeshift checkpoint established by Israeli forces on Route 449, near the southern entrance to Silwad. Israeli police asked Taleb for identification, which he did not carry with him. He got out of the taxi and was briefly questioned by Israeli forces and then detained. Once in custody, Israeli forces transferred Taleb to a police station in the nearby Israeli settlement of Geva Binyamin. Taleb was not informed where he was being taken and not allowed to contact his family.
At the police station, Taleb was brought to an interrogation room and accused of throwing stones. Taleb was denied access to counsel and not informed of his right to silence. His father, Ghaleb, was not allowed to be present during the interrogation. He was interrogated for about three hours by Israeli police, and signed documents in Hebrew, a language that he does not understand.
“After interrogation, they [Israeli forces] locked me up in a cell alone for five hours,” said Taleb in a sworn testimony to Defense for Children International - Palestine. “I could not sleep, I was afraid and hungry in the cell with no food or water provided. At the checkpoint, when they [Israeli soldiers] asked me to get out of the taxi, I did not expect that I would be arrested, interrogated and treated this way.”
That night, Israeli forces transferred Taleb to Ofer military prison near Ramallah. He appeared before a military court judge in Ofer military court on June 4, where he saw his parents for the first time since his arrest. During the initial court hearing, an Israeli military court judge released Taleb on NIS 5,000 (US $1,300) bail. An indictment has not yet been filed by the Israeli military prosecutor.
Checkpoints, including fixed and makeshift checkpoints, are used by Israeli forces throughout the occupied West Bank to restrict Palestinians freedom of movement. Israeli forces maintained at least 96 fixed checkpoints in the occupied West Bank as of April 2015, according to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization.
Evidence collected by DCIP during 2014 showed that more than three-quarters of Palestinian child detainees endured some form of physical violence between the period of their arrest and interrogation, with half of them also strip searched. In 93 percent of cases, children were denied access to legal counsel, and rarely informed of their rights, particularly their right against self-incrimination.
Palestinian-American teen, Tariq Abu-Khdeir, 15, was beaten unconscious by Israeli police and arrested in East Jerusalem last July. In April 2013, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy with U.S. citizenship, Mohammad Khalak, was arrested and mistreated by Israeli soldiers during a predawn raid on his home in Silwad.
International juvenile justice standards, which Israel has obliged itself to implement by signing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, demand that children should only be deprived of their liberty as a measure of last resort. Israel is the only country in the world that automatically prosecutes children in military courts that lack basic and fundamental fair trial guarantees.
Since the occupation of Palestinian territory in 1967 by Israeli forces, Palestinian children have been charged with offenses under Israeli military law and tried in military courts. Israeli military law only applies to the Palestinian population even though Israeli settlers live in the same territory. No Israeli children come into contact with the Israeli military court system.