Demand Israel release child held without charge or trial

Hamdi al-Ta’mari was arrested for the first time from the family home in Bethlehem at 4:00am, on 25 July 2008. He was woken by the sound of Israeli soldiers banging on the front door.

Hamdi’s hands and feet were immediately tied and he was ordered to lie on the floor, as soldiers pointed their assault rifles and flashlights at him. While on the ground, a number of soldiers slapped, kicked and beat him with their assault rifles. His hands were tied so tightly that they began to swell. After 15 minutes, Hamdi was blindfolded and placed on the floor of a military vehicle.

The military vehicle drove for around two hours during which time Hamdi was insulted, slapped and kicked by the soldiers sitting around him. One of the soldiers told Hamdi that they had killed his father because he was a terrorist and that they were going to kill all terrorists. At around 6:00am the vehicle arrived at Ofer Interrogation and Detention Centre, near Ramallah. Hamdi was taken to a small room where he was again assaulted by a number of soldiers.

On 28 July 2008, four days after his arrest, Hamdi was interrogated while sitting handcuffed in front of a desk. The interrogator asked Hamdi whether he was a member of Islamic Jihad, an organization banned by the Israeli authorities. Hamdi replied that he had nothing to do with the organization and he supported independent members of the Fatah movement. The interrogation lasted about one hour and Hamdi was then taken back to his cell.

Several days later Hamdi was informed that he would be detained for three months without charge or trial in administrative detention. On 13 November 2008, Hamdi was released from administrative detention without having been charged with any offense.

On 18 December 2008, one month after his release, Hamdi was again woken up at 2:00am by the sound of Israeli soldiers banging on the front door of the family home. Around five or six soldiers entered the house and Hamdi was tied and blindfolded. He was again placed in a military vehicle and driven for half an hour to Etzion Interrogation and Detention Centre. On 21 December 2008, three days after his arrest, Hamdi was transferred to Ofer for interrogation. The interrogator wanted to know who Hamdi had met with since his release on 13 November, asked him about the flags flying from the roof of his house and what other activities he had been up to since his release. Hamdi replied that he had met with relatives and neighbors and had had no involvement in politics.

On 28 December 2008, Hamdi, without a lawyer or family member present, was taken before the Administrative Detention Court in Ofer Military Base. The military judge told Hamdi that there was a four month administrative detention order against him based on “secret evidence.” Hamdi told the judge that he had not done anything wrong and was only arrested because his father had been targeted for assassination.

Hamdi’s administrative detention order comes up for renewal on 15 April 2009.

Background information

On 12 March 2008, Hamdi’s father was killed, along with three others, by an Israeli special unit in Bethlehem. The Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, investigated the circumstances of the killing and reported that in defiance of an Israeli High Court ruling, there was strong evidence to suggest that the operation was a targeted assassination.

Hamdi’s older brother also received an administrative detention order, as did the son of one of the other men killed on 12 March, Mohammad Balbol, who has been in administrative detention since 25 July 2008.

Administrative detention

Administrative detention is detention without charge or trial and is often based on “secret evidence.” Israeli Military Order 1591 empowers military commanders to detain Palestinians, including children as young as 12, for up to six months if they have “reasonable grounds to presume that the security of the area or public security require the detention.” The initial six-month period can be extended by additional six-month periods indefinitely. This procedure denies the detainee the right to a fair trial and the ability to adequately challenge the basis of his or her detention.

There are currently at least 548 Palestinians being held by Israel without charge or trial in administrative detention, of which six are children.

Recommended action

The detention of a child in these circumstances does not conform with Israel’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child or the Convention Against Torture. Please send Urgent Appeals to the Israeli authorities urging them to:

  • Immediately cease the practice of holding children under the age of 18 in administrative detention; and
  • Immediately and unconditionally release all persons currently held in administrative detention, or charge them with a recognizable offense and promptly try them in a proper court of law with internationally accepted standards for a fair trial.

Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister
3 Kaplan Street, PO Box 187, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem, 91919, Israel
Fax: +972- 2-651 2631
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister

Ehud Barak
Minister of Defence, Ministry of Defence,
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 691 6940
Salutation: Dear Minister

Minister of Justice, Fax: + 972 2 628 7757; + 972 2 628 8618
Attorney General, Fax: + 972 2 627 4481; + 972 2 628 5438; +972 2 530 3367

Please inform DCI-Palestine if you receive any response to your appeals -

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