Will US government help detained teenager?

Mother of young boy barred from parents home who spent weekend in police custody appeals to US embassy for help

Yedidya Ben-Or ,

Administrative detention, illustration
Administrative detention, illustration

The family of a 15-year-old boy from the town of Yitzhar who was barred from staying in his parents house by police and subsequently arrested because he was found there, has contacted the United States embassy and requested their help in protecting the teenager's rights.

The boy's mother is a US citizen, and emphasized in her request that she isn't asking for any political meddling, only the protection of her child's rights.

"Our son is young and he has nowhere to stay but his parents' house," the mother wrote to the embassy, "he is in administrative detention so we can't fight it through any of the regular legal channels.

"As the body responsible for protecting the rights of your citizens, even if they live in Israel, we request that you inquire and find out how the basic rights of a minor can be so easily violated, and help us secure his basic right to live in his home". 

A hearing is scheduled today (Sunday) in the Petah Tikva Magistrates Court, in the matter of the ongoing investigation against the boy for suspected anti-Arab activity, and the issue of the maintenance of his rights and due process. He will be represented by Attorney Hai Haber of the 'Honenu' organization. This organization is dedicated to ensuring that due process is respected in investigations such as these. All details of the allegations against the teen are classified, and held by the Shin-Bet security agency.

 The boy spent the past Shabbat in custody following Lod District Court judge Varda Maroz's decision to accept the police's appeal to keep him under house arrest outside of Judea and Samaria. Judge Maroz thus essentially overturned the previous decision by Petah Tikva Magistrates Court judge Yael Belcher, which had stipulated the boy could remain under house arrest in his parents' home. Belcher had also strongly criticized the police's conduct in relation to this matter.

In the course of deliberations it became clear that the police's plan to have the boy stay on a farm in the south isn't viable as the farm owner has refused to consent to the arrangement under these conditions. An additional farm owner contacted by the police likewise refused to host the teen without his parents' consent. 

The organization dealing with the case has commented in response to events: "This is a of human rights violation scandal. We've already seen several times what kind of "secret information" is used to justify holding citizens in administrative detention. People have been released because it turned out that the information was mistaken. We hope this situation will be resolved with the returning of the boy to his parents' home."