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From the field

Suspicion: Police violently arrest minors in Silwan, October 2010

During October 2010, B'Tselem documented several incidents in which police arrested minors from the Silwan neighborhood, in East Jerusalem, on suspicion of stone throwing. In testimonies they gave to B'Tselem, the minors related that they were subjected to both physical and verbal violence during the arrests. The law prescribes clear procedures for police action in arresting minors who are suspected offenders. Statements made by the minors and their parents indicate that the police did not comply with these procedures.

According to B'Tselem's figures, from 22 to 31 October, the police arrested or detained for questioning at least 32 minors, about one-third of them under age 14, and two under age 12, which is the minimum age for criminal responsibility. In November, a similar number of minors were arrested.

Iyad a-Shweiki, 12, a resident of Silwan, was arrested near the Beir Ayub Mosque, in Silwan, on 11 October. He described his arrest.

Iyad a-Shweiki, 12"Suddenly, I felt somebody grab me from behind. He put his hand around my neck and forced my head down. He was masked and in civilian clothes, an undercover policeman. He pulled me to a jeep. I sat on the bench in the jeep with my head facing down. The undercover cop hit me in the head a few times, whenever I tried to raise my head. When my head was bent down, it hurt my neck, and I had to lift it every once in a while."

Another youth from Silwan who was arrested near the mosque on 11 October was Muhammad Mansur, 13. He described being brought to the police station for interrogation.

Muhammad Mansur, 13"Then the undercover policeman put me in a white Toyota. Another kid called Iyad a-Shweiki was there. They threw me on him, and the two of us were on the floor of the vehicle. Two masked men sat with us in the back. Two policemen were in the front. The two masked men hit us, and we both started to cry. I was so frightened that I peed in my pants."

Muslem ‘Odeh, a resident of Silwan, is 10 years old – under the age of criminal responsibility. He was arrested on 18 October near the tent put up by the popular committee in Silwan to protest the Jerusalem Municipality's plan to demolish dozens of houses in the al-Bustan section of the neighborhood. He said that, following a clash between children from Silwan and the police, several vehicles arrived at the scene and people in civilian clothes got out. Muslem described what happened then.

Muslem ‘Odeh, 10"About 20 masked undercover cops got out. I saw them run toward the tent. Some of the children began to run away, but I didn't. One of the undercover cops came over and grabbed me. He put his arm around my neck and asked me, “Who threw stones?” I told him I didn't know. He tied my hands behind my back with plastic cuffs. I resisted and tried to get away. Another undercover cop came and cuffed my legs as well. They grabbed me and dragged me along the ground to their cars. They hit me with a club all over my body. Then they put me, and other kids, into a car. One of the undercover cops put something over my head to cover it. Then the car drove off. On the way, the undercover cops beat me and the other kids. They punched and slapped me. Some of the kids cried."

Shadi Abu al-Hamamah, 13, a resident of Silwan, was another youth who was arrested near the protest tent in Silwan. He described his arrest as follows:

Shadi Abu al-Hamamah, 13"I wasn't able to get away. One of the undercover cops grabbed me by the back of my neck. Another one came over and punched me in the face, hitting me in the right eye. In the meantime, a third undercover cop came and butted me in the head. They laid me down on the ground and cuffed my hands behind me with plastic cuffs. Another masked man, dressed in black, was there. He kicked me all over my body. I cried out and told them I hadn't done anything."

According to B'Tselem's information, the minors arrested during October, about one-third of them under age 14, were taken, usually handcuffed, to the police station at the Russian Compound, where they were interrogated on suspicion of throwing stones at security forces. Some of the minors were interrogated, in breach of law, without a parent or a representative on their parents' behalf present, and without being permitted to consult with their parents before the interrogation. Following their interrogation, most of them were released to their homes – some with no restrictions and some for several days to several weeks of house arrest. Those who were placed under house arrest were permitted to attend school.