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Over the past few months, the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service have been placing Palestinian under the age of 18 in administrative detention. In some cases, even minors under 16 have been detained. (The IDF considers minors in the territories to be those under the age of 16).

There is as yet no orderly list of minors under the age of 18 who have been detained under administrative orders, but the Palestinian branch of Defense for Children International estimates that more than 20 have been apprehended.

Administrative detention is carried out by order of a major general when the Shin Bet cannot provide evidence that will serve as the basis of an indictment. The warrant for the detention of A.T., born in May 1986, for example, states that he must be held "because he is a danger to security in the area."

During the first intifada, the administrative detention of minors was virtually non-existent. Lawyers recall perhaps one or two cases. Over the past few months, Tamar Peleg from Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, has represented at least three minors under the age of 16 and has appealed against their detention.

H.R., from the Deheisheh refugee camp, was born in April 1987 and arrested in February 2003, before he was 16. A reservist judge, Eli Ben-Tovim, cut his sentence short from six to two months and gave the authorities three weeks to provide evidence, or to free him.

M.N. from Bethlehem, born January 1987, was arrested in November 2002 and kept in solitary confinement in a temporary lock-up for 45 days. The authorities said this was so he would not be detained together with adults. Peleg learned of his detention only when he was moved to Ketsiot prison. She failed to persuade the president of the military appeals court, Shaul Gordon, that it was not proper to detain a minor in this way. Since Peleg protested the solitary confinement of minors, this practice seems to have been stopped.