Key witness aimed gun at Palestinian teen during police interview
By Chaim Levinson
[13 March 2014] - A soldier who served as a key witness in an investigation against a 15-year-old Palestinian attended the police interview, where he trained his gun on the teen. The scene was captured in a video.
Israeli soldiers in February arrested four Palestinian youths in the West Bank village of Nabi Salih, near Ramallah. Villagers have been demonstrating weekly against what they say is the takeover of a nearby spring by Jewish settlers from Neve Tzuf.
The soldiers, who said the teens had thrown rocks at them four days before, arrested the suspects and brought them to the Binyamin police station and questioned about rock throwing.
One of the soldiers, who served as a key witness against the minors, attended a considerable part of the police interview with one of them.
During the interview the soldier played with his weapon and at one point he trained it on the suspect, who was in restraints, for one minute. The station’s senior investigator, Haim Toledano, then entered the room and told the soldier to wait outside.
The teen was charged with throwing rocks but the case was thrown out of court because the photos of the incident were blurry and had no timestamp.
The Military Advocate General’s office next charged the teen with taking part in an illegal demonstration. He was sentenced to eight days in prison and released with time served.
“This is part of the military authorities’ unacceptable treatment of Palestinian minors,” The teen’s attorney, Neri Ramati, told Haaretz. “They are arrested at night, questioned without their parents’ presence and in the presence of the agent who incriminates them.”
By the end of 2013, 154 Palestinian minors were held in prison. Fourteen of them were 14-16 years old and the rest were up to 18 years old. Ninety-nine of them had been remanded unto custody until the end of the judicial procedures against them.
The treatment of Palestinian and Israeli minors has come under much international criticism in recent years. In the case of Palestinian youths, the MAG’s office frequently asks to hold the suspects in custody until the end of the judiciary process for minor offenses.
Following the criticism and subsequent visits of diplomats in military courts, significant reforms were made. The age of criminal responsibility was raised from 16 to 18, the days of holding a minor in custody without bringing him to court were reduced and the interrogation sessions are now being filmed. In addition, a social worker sees the minors before it is decided to hold them in custody until the end of the procedure.