Eighth Grader Girl Detained for 19 Consecutive Days in Israeli Prison

RAMALLAH, January 18, 2015 (WAFA) – The Israeli authorities continue to detain Palestinian eighth grader, Malak al-Khatib, 14, for the 19th consecutive day in the Israeli prison Hasharon, reported the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC).

Al-Khatib was arrested near her school in the Ramallah village of Beitin on December 31, 2014 for alleged rock-throwing at Israeli forces.

A military decision was supposed to be made on January 4th, however, the Israeli Ofer military courtpostponed her hearing to January 11, yet no decision has been reached so far.

Malak’s family wasn’t able to visit her at the detention center, but only saw her at the court on Sunday January 4th during a court hearing. Her father said that she looked distressed and scared. “After all she is only 14,” he explained desperately.

According to UNICEF, “All children prosecuted for offences they allegedly committed should be treated in accordance with international juvenile justice standards, which provide them with special protection. Most of these protections are enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

It should be noted that, “Israeli military law technically applies to all those present in the West Bank, including Israeli settler children, however the latter are invariably processed under Israel’s civilian legal system, which contains far greater safeguards and protections,” according to Defense for Children International.

On 29 September 2009, a military juvenile court was established following mounting criticism that the Israeli military had been prosecuting children as young as 12 years in adult military courts for over four decades, it said.

However, “The new order makes no change to the time period during which a child can be denied access to a lawyer, which remains at 90 days for both adults and children.”

On August 1, 2012, military order 1685 came into effect. The new order reduces the time within which children detained by the Israeli military must be brought before a military court judge for the first time.

The organizations stated that, “The critical period for Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military is the first 48 hours after arrest. It is during this period that most cases of physical and psychological abuse occur and the child is interrogated without the benefit of legal advice or the presence of a parent. The amendment which now requires children be brought before a military court judge within 96 hours of arrest adds no additional protection.”

B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, said that, “From the beginning of 2005 to the end of 2010, at least 835 Palestinian minors were arrested and tried in military courts in the West Bank on charges of stone throwing. Thirty-four of them were aged 12 – 13, 255 were 14 – 15, 546 were between the ages of 16 – 17. Only one of the 835 was acquitted; all the rest were found guilty.”

The center said in a report titled, No Minor Matter that “The rights of Palestinian minors are flagrantly violated at every stage of the proceedings conducted against them, from the initial arrest and removal from their homes, through interrogation and trial, to serving the prison sentence, and then release […]. The amendments to the military legislation are marginal and have failed to bring about meaningful change in the military system’s treatment of minors.”