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Summonses in lieu of night arrests - update
[6 October 2015] – Following widespread criticism of the use of night raids to arrest minors in the West Bank, the military authorities announced in February 2014, the introduction of a pilot programme to issue written summonses in lieu of night arrests. The programme operated in the Nablus and Hebron districts but was temporarily suspended in or about September 2014 due to “increased violence”. The military authorities have stated that they did not keep any statistics during the initial operation of the programme making any meaningful internal assessment problematic.
During the same period UNICEF documented 24 cases in which summonses were used in lieu of arresting minors at night but noted that some of the summonses were delivered by the military during night-time raids and violations continued to be reported during the subsequent interrogation process at the military detention centre or police station. Similar conclusions were reached by MCW which also found that the military used summonses in approximately 9 per cent of cases in 2014.
Based on recent evidence collected by MCW, it appears that the programme recommenced sometime in early 2015. So far this year, out of 85 arrests documented by MCW, summonses were used in 5 per cent of cases. In the cases in which summonses were used, MCW has identified a number of troubling features:
  • In every case the summons was delivered by the military after midnight;
  • Relevant parts of the summonses were handwritten in Hebrew without Arabic translation;
  • Relevant information, such as the nature of the accusation, was missing;
  • Although the military acknowledges that there is a discretion to permit a parent to accompany a child during interrogation, this safeguard was denied in every case and the parent was made to wait outside or go home; and
  • No reference to the child’s legal rights was included in any of the summonses.
Whilst it has been recognized that night arrests may be necessary in exceptional circumstances, in 35 per cent of night arrest cases documented by MCW this year, the minor was released within a few days without charge, raising questions about the necessity for a terryfying military raid on the child’s home in the middle of the night.
One possible explanation as to why a majority of children are still being detained in the middle of the night instead of being issued with summonses is that the evidence indicates that night raids on Palestinian homes located in close proximity to Israeli settlements is generally effective at intimidating the community into submission and ensuring the viability of continued settlement activity in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
MCW will continue to monitor the pilot programme to issue summonses in lieu of night arrests.