Israel refuses to investigate torture of 16-year-old

Israel has refused to investigate the brutal ill-treatment of a Palestinian child, a human rights group has stated.

On 6 February 2010, Mohammad Halabiyeh, then aged 16, broke his leg during his arrest by the Israeli border police. Mohammad — who hails from Abu Dis, near Jerusalem — needed urgent medical treatment. Yet the police interrogated and tortured him for five days by beating him, kicking him on his injured leg and threatening him with sexual abuse.

While being taken to a hospital, the interrogators punched Mohammad in his face, taped his mouth shut and beat him with an iron bar.

Two months after the horrible events, the Palestinian prisoner rights group Addameer filed a complaint to the military prosecution and the general legal advisor for the Israeli government. Addameer received confirmation of the receipt of the complaint in April 2010.

“Display of apathy”

More than three years after the complaint — on 18 June this year —  an Israeli military prosecutor informed Addameer that the file was closed without any investigations. The prosecutor had decided to send the file to the Israeli border police. But no investigations have been opened into the torture of Mohammad.

After a one-year trial, Mohammad was sentenced to 34 months in prison for alleged throwing of Molotov cocktails. His release came before the Israeli authorities had undertaken any investigation into his torture.

Addameer reminds us:

According to research by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, all 700 complaints of torture made against interrogators in the past 10 years were closed without a criminal investigation. Additionally, many Palestinians who are tortured refuse to file complaints because of their lack of confidence in the system. This is not only a display of apathy towards the well-being of Palestinians, but also exposes the absolute impunity the occupation authorities practices in direct violation of international human rights and humanitarian law. To date, 73 Palestinian detainees have died from torture at the hands of their interrogators since 1967, most recently Arafat Jaradat, a young father who was detained for seven days before he was martyred in the interrogation cells on 23 January 2013.

Meanwhile, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has published damning comments on Israel’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Israel’s “unavoidable responsibility” to prevent and eradicate torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian children is addressed in one paragraph of the 21-page document.

The committee found that torture and ill-treatment were a serious violation of the convention on children’s rights and a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It called on Israel to immediately remove all children from solitary confinement and to launch without delay an independent inquiry into all alleged cases of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian children. “This should include ensuring that at all levels of the chain of command, those who have been ordering, condoning or facilitating these practices be brought to justice and be punished with penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes,” the report stated.

When “circumstances cast a doubt about the way confession was obtained,” the  judicial authorities should investigate and prosecute acts that amount to torture or other forms of ill-treatment, the UN report stated. Israel’s refusal to investigate why Mohammad Halabiyeh was tortured clearly falls short of those requirements.




Everyone should be surprised and shocked by this, because it is not normal behavior for anyone.

Unfortunately, very few people know about the brutal treatment of Palestinian children. Ms. Nieuwhof and EI's careful and professional attention to these issues, which draws on the courageous work of Addameer, Defence for Children International and others, is to be commended.

Adri Nieuwhof

Adri Nieuwhof's picture

Adri Nieuwhof is a human rights advocate based in the Netherlands and former anti-apartheid activist at the Holland Committee on Southern Africa. Twitter: @steketeh