Ofer - Release on Bail, Stone Throwing

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Hagit Shlonsky, Hadas Agmon, Avital Toch (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

Judge: Major Sharon Rivlin Ahai

Prosecutor: Odelia

Defense: Atty. Iyad Misk

Clanging chains and dressed in oversized prison uniform, a small child enters the courtroom. This is Mustafa Naser Mustafa Batilo, an 11-year-old boy from the village of Hirbata in Modi'in area. Case No. 3258/09.

The child's father and uncle are sitting in the audience. Both speak Hebrew.

At 11 AM on Monday, Mustafa left his home in Herbata, east of Bil'in and Upper Modi'in, for his aunt's house in Hirbat al Misbah, on the other side of Rt. 443. The IDF constantly patrols the area because the highway serves only Israelis [my addition: also because the crowded Palestinian villages and the Israeli settlements are very close.]

Mustafa, on his way to visit his aunt, was apparently captured by an army patrol while walking alone on Rt. 443. His family claims that in order to walk from their village to the aunt's village one has to cross the road - this is the only way.

Mustafa was captured by the soldiers, put on a jeep and taken to the military camp Ofer. The soldiers claim that he threw rocks and that's why they nabbed him.

The child disappeared Monday noon, and the family looked for him everywhere, in the mountains and at the checkpoints, to no avail. On Tuesday, Atty. Iyad Misk, working for DEFENCE CHIDREN INERNATIONAL, contacted the family.

The day after his arrest the child was brought to court, without a lawyer and without a family member present. He was required to deposit 500 shekels for bail. He spent the night in custody at Ofer.

Today, the judge amended yesterday's decision and set the bail at 200. She instructed the boy that he'll have to stand trial when the indictment is complete, and a date was set for the hearing.

The father approached his son, patted his head and told the court in fluent Hebrew: "If the child was on the highway and the soldiers saw him, they should have spoken to him... My son is 11 years old. You should talk to him! We are cousins..."

Judge: Perhaps even more than that.

Thus ended the hearing and 11-year old Mustafa's detention.

In the report "Backyard Proceedings" published by Yesh Din - in the chapter on minors - there is a reference to the legal definition of a minor, dating to 1967: "a child is a person under the age of twelve." Such a person is exempt from detention and from prosecution.

Another example (one of many) of the treatment of minors: In the Israeli law, the minor's age refers to the day the offense was committed. A Palestinian minor's culpability refers to his age on the day of the verdict.