Ofer - Minors
Translation: Marganit W.
In July 2009 a new juvenile law went into effect in Israel. This law does not obtain in the military courts, but that same month an order was published for the establishment of a juvenile military court through an amendment to security regulations.
According to various sources, 440 Palestinian juveniles are currently detained in Israeli prisons (including East Jerusalem), some because their trials have not concluded and others are already serving time. Among them are administrative detainees.
The minimal age for criminal liability (in Israel and in Palestine) is 12 years. The definitions for the Juvenile Military Court for various categories of minors are: Child – under age 12; Youth- age 12-14; Young adult- age 14-16.
Whenever I go to Ofer I hear stories about minor detainees. I am often asked to attend such hearings, and the expectation is that my being Israeli may have some impact. I always explain that my presence makes no difference and I apologize for my inability to help. I can only offer solidarity and try to publish the cases. I am barred from reporting on the cases of minors.
Today in the yard I was approached by a Palestinian who came with his young son, to attend the hearing of his 16-year old daughter. He told me that a year ago his daughter showed up at one of Hebron’s checkpoints. The prosecution claims that she tried to stab a settler. Nobody was injured in the incident but she was shot on the spot. She was taken to hospital and underwent a series of surgeries. Her leg is still injured. At the hospital she was interrogated, without an attorney or family present. The family was barred from visiting her and she stayed there, handcuffed to the bed, until she was transferred to Sharon Prison. The father shows up to all the hearings, which enables him to see her briefly and exchange a few words. He was told only that she is accused of murder and is being judged by a panel of three judges. He understands very little of the proceedings because the translation is so poor.
The father asked me: Why did they shoot her? She is only 16.