Judge Remands Palestinian Teen Despite Suspicions that Soldiers Beat Him

Boy from Bil'in rarrested on Friday on suspicion of throwing stones during the weekly protest against the separation fence says soldiers injured his hand who 'kicked and attacked' him.

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Amira Hass

An Israeli military judge extended the remand of a 15-year-old Palestinian on Sunday despite suspicions that the boy was badly beaten by soldiers. The reason for the extension was that the court was closed for Memorial Day and Independence Day.

The judge told military prosecutors he would expect an explanation of the boy's injuries at the next hearing.

The boy, a resident of Bil'in who can only be identified as A.H., was arrested on Friday on suspicion of throwing stones during the weekly protest against the separation fence, which cuts across the village's lands. He was brought before the military judge, Maj. Sharon Keinan, at the Ofer Prison's military court on Sunday.

A.H. told the court his hand was injured "by soldiers. They kicked me, they attacked me. There was a lot of blood. My head is bruised. I was treated by a military medic."

The record of the hearing confirmed that "the court observed a sizable number of bruises covering the suspect's face, forehead and chin. Furthermore, the suspect's left wrist was bandaged."

The boy was supposed to be represented by attorney Limor Goldstein. But when Goldstein arrived in court that morning, he was kept waiting for several hours until finally being told the meeting room was full, and he could only meet his client in the courtroom itself.

By that time, however, Goldstein was due to represent other detainees at the military appeals court, also located at Ofer, so A.H. was left without representation. He did not know that Goldstein, to whom he had spoken by phone earlier that day, was next door in a different hearing.

Keinan wrote in his decision that despite the boy's "earnest denials," the troops who detained him had supplied testimony and evidence "linking him, at least at this stage, to the allegations against him."

But none of the soldiers claimed the boy had tried to resist arrest, so his injuries are thus far unexplained, Keinan noted. He therefore told the prosecution to come to the next hearing with answers that would explain the boy's injuries, and said prosecutors might want to consider having the Military Police examine the soldiers' behavior.

He then extended the remand until Thursday "to allow the prosecution to consider its next moves - solely because we are on the eve of Memorial Day and Independence Day, on which no hearings are held."