JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli forces have been holding a Palestinian-American teenager in a military lockup for nearly a week after bursting into his family home and arresting him in an overnight raid for allegedly hurling rocks at Israeli motorists in the West Bank, his father said on Thursday.
The case highlights Israel’s system of military detention for Palestinian minors, which has been frequently criticized, most recently by the U.N. which said in March that an in-depth study showed it systematically and gravely violated their rights.
The boy’s father, Abdelwahab Khalek, said his 14-year-old son Mohammad was taken into custody early last Friday morning by eight assault-rifle wielding soldiers. They shackled and blindfolded his son as his five siblings watched, he said.
The military said Mohammad hurled rocks at Israeli vehicles that were speeding down a nearby highway and at military jeeps on several occasions. The military said there has been a spike in rock-throwing attacks on drivers, including an incident in early April, when rocks thrown at a civilian car next to a Jewish settlement injured seven, including an infant who was critically wounded. The military confirmed the arrest and said his detention was extended until Sunday.
Khalek, a car dealer who splits his time between the West Bank and New Orleans, hasn’t been allowed to visit his son in jail. But he has spoken to him at three court hearings, most recently when Mohammad was officially charged on Thursday. Mohammad’s lawyer, Randa Wahbe, said he told her in court that he was interrogated for hours and at one stage, was pushed so hard that his dental braces were broken. She says he was told by interrogators that if he confessed to rock throwing quickly, he would be released. A military spokesman said no complaints of abuse were filed.
“He appears OK, he’s a strong kid,” said his 46-year-old father. “But there is no law in the world that justifies the way (Israeli forces) acted.”
American consular officials declined comment.