Hebron Boy, 13, Jailed for Days Because Father Can't Afford Bail

The military court at Ofer Prison will rule Sunday on extending the remand of the young Palestinian.

The military court at Ofer Prison will rule Sunday on extending the remand of a 13-year-old Hebron boy held for nine days on suspicion of throwing stones at soldiers. At the first remand hearing, on March 2, the boy's father was unable to pay the NIS 2,000 the court required for him to be released on bail.

An Israel Defense Forces soldier detained the boy, identified by his initials A.M., and his 11-year-old brother in Hebron's Old City, on the afternoon of February 27. The boys' father tracked down his younger son and was able to bring him home around 10 P.M. (military law prohibits the detention of minors under the age of 12).

The older brother had been transferred earlier that day to the police station in the nearby Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, but his father was prevented from seeing him. Later on he was moved again, this time to Ofer Prison, southwest of Ramallah.

The boys' mother told the human rights organization B'Tselem that the younger child was "tired and scared, and his pants were wet because he had urinated in them while being held there for several hours."

Three days later, on March 2, military prosecutor Eran Levy asked Judge Eti Adar to extend the boy's remand in order to file an indictment.

The court records indicate that A.M. admitted to throwing stones. Unlike civil law, Israeli military law allows authorities to interrogate Palestinian minors at unreasonable hours, such as at night, and without a parent present.

Lea Tsemel, the attorney representing the other inmates at Ofer that day, told Haaretz she was stunned to see "a scrawny redheaded child in the suspects' cage." Tsemel gave the boy a balloon (that she happened to buy for her grandchild) in order to remind those present in court of his age.

Lawyers who had been contacted by the boy's family failed to appear at the hearing. Military law stipulates that only after an indictment is filed can minors be brought before an IDF court for juveniles. Therefore, the procedures followed in extending A.M.'s remand are those intended for adults.

The court minutes show that A.M.'s father pleaded with the judge to release his son, stating that he worked for the municipality repairing roads and earned a monthly salary of only NIS 2,400. The prosecution then changed its position, and instead of asking that the boy's remand be extended until the filing of an indictment, suggested he be released on NIS-5,000 bail.

The judge set bail at NIS 2,000, a sum the father said he was unable to pay. A ruling on the boy's remand will be handed down Sunday.

The younger brother was hospitalized Thursday, his father said, after showing signs of psychological trauma. The 11-year-old told B'Tselem that a soldier had called him and his brother over, then one of the soldiers grabbed him by the back of his neck and another grabbed his older brother.

The two brothers were put into a military jeep, he said, and brought to the IDF installation near Beit Romano in the Old City of Hebron.

The boy said he was frightened, and when he asked a soldier to send him home, he was told to "shut up." He said he received the same response when he asked to use the bathroom.