Over the past week, Al-Haq monitored the arrests of at least 30 Palestinians from Qalqiliya, Nablus, Toulkarem, Toubas, Jenin, Hebron and Jerusalem. In most of the cases, the Israeli military raided villages or neighbourhoods before carrying out the arrests. According to Al-Haq information, at least five of those arrested are currently being held under administrative detention.
The Israeli military also arrested two minors: Muhammad Khaled Sabbah (17 years old), a resident of ‘Ourif village (Nablus governorate) and Ayyam Nimer Rajabi (17 years old), from Hebron. At the time of writing, Muhammad is still being held at Megiddo prison, north of Jenin, outside the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Muhammad is being detained based on allegations that he threw stones at Israeli soldiers, and he is waiting for a hearing before an Israeli military court.
Ayyam Nimer Rajabi (17 years old) – Hebron
On 6 February, at approximately 8:45 am, Fatina ‘Abd-al-Hafez (27 years old), a resident of Hebron, was walking on al-Shuhada’ street in the direction of the old market. When Fatina was in the area close to the Ibrahimi Mosque, she saw Ayyam Nimer Rajabi, at a distance of approximately 30 metres, engaged in an argument with two Israeli border policemen.
The street close to the Ibrahimi Mosque, like many other streets in Hebron, is divided into two sides. Israeli settlers and soldiers may drive and walk on one side, whilst Palestinians, who are not allowed to drive in the Israeli-controlled part of the old city, may only walk on the other side. The two sides of the street are separated by metallic barriers. Ayyam was on the Palestinian side of the street when Fatina saw a female and two male Israeli border police officers dragging her to a checkpoint close to the Ibrahimi Mosque. While dragging Ayyam, the three police officers began beating and kicking her, causing her to fall to the ground four times. At that point in time, Fatina did not see anybody else in the street. Fatina tried to approach Ayyam in order to help her stand up, but was pushed away by the police officers. When the officers arrived at the checkpoint, they stopped beating Ayyam and cuffed her hands behind her back. Five minutes later, the border police officers dragged the girl toward the Israeli police station, 40 metres east of the Ibrahimi Mosque. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 8352/2013)
At approximately 9:35 am, having heard of his daughter’s arrest, Nimer Subhi Rajabi (37 years old) arrived at the police station and found Ayyam sitting on a chair, without handcuffs but guarded by an Israeli policeman. Ayyam explained to her father that earlier that morning she had been walking in the vicinity of the Ibrahimi Mosque when an Israeli border policeman insulted her. She told the officer that she would go to the Israeli police station close to the mosque in order to present a complaint against him. Ayyam was on the Palestinian side of the street and tried to move the metallic barrier separating the two sides of the street in order to go to the police station, but was prevented from doing so by the policeman and in the end did not reach the Israeli side of the street. It was at that point that the two other police officers approached Ayyam and assaulted her.
At about 10:30 am, the Israeli border policemen handcuffed Ayyam again and transferred her and Nimer to the main Israeli police station in Hebron governorate, west of ‘Kiryat Arba’ settlement. Upon their arrival at the second police station, Ayyam waited until 1:00 pm before being interrogated in the presence of her father. The detective accused Ayyam of assaulting the three border police officers, attempting to move the metallic barrier and walking toward the area that Palestinians are prohibited from accessing. When Nimer intervened and told the interrogator that his daughter had been insulted by a border policeman, he was forced to leave the room. Before doing so, Nimer asked the interrogator to stop questioning Ayyam until a lawyer was present, but the detective refused. Nimer left the room a few minutes after the beginning of the interrogation, which lasted for almost one hour.
At approximately 4:30 pm, Nimer was told to leave the police station while his daughter was being taken to Hasharon prison. He was also informed that a hearing in a military court was scheduled at the ‘Ourif detention centre for the following day at 10:00 am. The next day, at 4:00 pm, Ayyam was taken to court, where the judge suggested that she be released upon the payment of a 1,000 NIS bail (approximately 270 USD). However, the prosecutor opposed the decision to release Ayyam and asked for more time to gather further information on her case. The judge agreed to postpone the hearing and, on 11 February, the prosecutor accused Ayyam of having attempted to use pepper spray against the border policemen and take their weapons. The judge then refused to release Ayyam and scheduled another hearing for 13 February, which was subsequently postponed to 16 February. (Al-Haq Affidavit No.8354/2013)
Ayyam is currently being held at Hasharon prison, which is located outside the OPT, in violation of the prohibition against transfer of detainees outside from the occupied territory, as set forth in the Fourth Geneva Convention. Ayyam is well aware of the frequent abuses by the Israeli army in Hebron’s old city and the strict rules under which they operate. It is therefore highly unlikely that a girl would carry any object, such as pepper spray, that may raise the soldiers’ suspicion and provoke a violent reaction from them.
Al-Haq condemns the assault and the arbitrary arrest of Ayyam and reiterates that in case of arrests of children, Israel must afford them with the special protection they are entitled to under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and specifically in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Accordingly, children must be informed of their rights before any interrogation, which must be carried out in the presence of a legal guardian. In addition, Al-Haq expresses its concern about the high number of arrests by the Israeli military and calls upon Israel to stop arbitrary arrests of Palestinians. All persons deprived of their liberty must be treated with humanity and respect for their dignity. Israel must strictly abide by its legal obligations under international human rights law.