The a-Sheikh Jarah neighborhood of East Jerusalem: Police arrest two brothers, 13 and 15, and assault their mother
On Tuesday, 5 September 2017, the police evicted the Shamasneh family from its home in the a-Sheikh Jarah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, allowing settlers to move in. A few days later, on Friday, 8 September 2017, at about 2:00 PM, some Israeli activists and local residents gathered close to the home and waited for some 200 Israeli demonstrators who held a procession against the eviction, walking from Hamashbir Square in downtown West Jerusalem toward a-Sheikh Jarah.
At about 4:00 PM, one of the police officers on the scene approached ‘A.H., 15, one of the Palestinian youths there.
Video footage filmed by Oren Ziv and Shiraz Greenbaum (Activestills) shows the police officers pushing ‘A.H.’s mother R.H., 46, as she tries to prevent them from arresting her son.
In a testimony taken on 10 September 2017 by B'Tselem field researcher ‘Amer ‘Aruri, ‘A.H. described what happened:
While I was standing there a police officer came up to me, grabbed me, and tried to arrest me. I didn’t understand why he was doing that. I had just been standing on the side not harming anyone. I refused to go with him. The police officer called another officer and they lifted me up. My mother arrived, grabbed me, and tried to prevent the officers from taking me, but one of the officers who were carrying me pushed her hard, and she fell to the ground. The police officers put me in the police car. I sat alone in the police car for about 10 minutes, and then they drove me to the police station opposite Bab a Sahira (Herod’s Gate). When we got there, they put me in a room with two other youths. I don’t know them, and I don’t know why they were arrested. After about half an hour the officer who arrested me came and drove me back home to the neighborhood where I live.
In a testimony taken on 10 September 2017, she stated:
I ran toward the two police officers who were carrying my son and tried to stop them from detaining him. I tried to pry him out of their hands and held on to him firmly, hugging him tight. One of the officers pushed me with his elbow and knocked me to the ground. I fell on my head and got hit from behind. I felt dizzy. I could hear voices around me, but I couldn’t see anything. I started to vomit and felt people lifting me up. When I woke up, I was in an Israeli ambulance that was taking me to Hadassah-‘Esawiyah (Mt. Scopus) Hospital.
After she arrived at hospital, R.H. vomited several more times. She underwent tests and was given painkillers. She was discharged in the evening.
Shortly after ‘A.H. was arrested, the procession reached the neighborhood. ‘A.H.’s brother M.H., 13, was waving a Palestinian flag on the roof of the Shamasneh family home. He heard shouting and went to the scene, where he saw his mother being taken away in an ambulance. One of the police officers seized M.H. and began to drag him by the neck toward a police car.
On 2 October 2017, Michal Peleg, 58, an Israeli demonstrator, described what happened to B'Tselem Data Coordinator Eyal Sagiv:
I saw police officers pounce on a small, thin boy, choking and dragging him. Residents and demonstrators tried to seize him and prevent them from taking him. The police officers ran in a block with the child between them, and along the way they banged the head of an Israeli demonstrator who was standing next to me into a wall. His head bled, and someone bandaged it on the spot.
The police officers put M.H. in a police car and took him to the police station.
In a testimony taken on 10 September 2017 by B'Tselem field researcher ‘Amer ‘Aruri, M.H. described his detention:
When the police car stopped, an officer – not the one who arrested me – opened the door and dragged me out by the arm. He was violent, and he hurt me. The police officer told me in Arabic, “You’re a hero, raising the flag!” He held me by the neck and led me into the police station. They put me in front of a room with a few Jewish solidarity activists who had been arrested at the same demonstration I went to. A police officer came into the room and told another officer in Arabic: “What do you say we give him two slaps on the face so he learns his lesson and swears not to come back here?” Nobody hit me, but I was afraid that they would slap my face or that someone would hurt me.
About an hour later, Attorney Leah Tsemel arrived. She brought me some snacks and juice that my family had sent. She told me, “Don’t be afraid, you didn’t break the law,” and left the room. I didn’t know exactly what time it was. I waited for about another hour, and during that time they let me go to the bathroom.
M.H. was taken for interrogation which was conducted in Arabic. He was accused of spitting on a police officer outside the Shamasneh family home. He denied the charge, and the interrogator shouted at him and hit the table. The interrogation lasted for about an hour, after which his fingerprints were taken and he signed a statement written in Hebrew, which M.H. does not understand. The police officers ordered him to sit in a corridor. About five hours later, around 10:30 PM, he was released to five days’ house arrest on bail of ILS 1,000. He was also issued with a restraining order prohibiting him from approaching the Shamasneh family home.
M.H. described his house arrest:
I stay up late at night playing on the tablet. I sleep late and wake up when my brothers come home from school. I’m waiting to go back to school. The house arrest is suffocating me. I’m not even allowed to stand in the entrance to my home or play opposite my house with my friends. I like school and I feel that it’s really unfair that they are stopping me from going.
Police officers violently arrested two youths aged 13 and 15, assaulted their mother when she attempted to protect one of them, and took them both to a police station. One was released after half an hour and no action was taken. The other was conditionally released after five hours, after he was interrogated under threats, his rights were violated, and after signing a confession he could not understand.
These incidents are not unusual, but rather form part of the consistent policy of the Israeli authorities in East Jerusalem. Under this policy, arrest is almost always the first port of call, rather than the last resort, and minors’ rights are violated and trampled on throughout the process. The teenagers who are taken into custody are suddenly separated from their families and from their daily routine. They remain isolated throughout the detention, with no adult who cares for them and helps them understand what is happening. Their parents are excluded from the process and they are denied a meaningful opportunity to consult with a lawyer. The law enforcement system would never dare implement such a policy toward any other population in Israel, and yet it has been openly and deliberately used for decades against hundreds of East Jerusalem teenagers every year.