After leaving prison, 48% of the children were released into house arrest. In 23% of the cases the children were in an open house arrest. Open house arrests means: not knowing when they can engage again in work or school related activities and leave their homes.
A boy is indefinitely under house arrest, and is not allowed to go to school. Read the story of Suhaib Alawar.
A guardian is normally selected by the court from one of the family members under whose singed responsibility the child is released. This guardian is made responsible to keep an eye on the child in all hours. This effectively places another family member in house arrest too—the child and the court appointed caretaker.
To put this in perspective, 70% of children were in house arrest for a month or slightly less. Moreover, a high percentage of them were not permitted to attend school. This fact resulted in children performing poorly in school after they finally were allowed to return (40%), some being asked to repeat a grade by their teachers, which families at times could not afford as a consequence the children dropped out of school (3%).
B’tselem collects testimonies of night arrests and consequent house arrests of boys 12-15. Read the report here.
The matter of house arrest and its consequences is an extremely complex one and has not yet been analyzed in depth thus far. However one can say that the system works quite well for the Israeli State and Prison Services.
Children and their families are punished not only by being arrested, paying bail out and lawyer fees, but family members are also made responsible for watching their children 24hrs, which puts a lot of economic and psychological pressure on these families and the social fabric as whole. The goal, we can assume, is to frustrate, terrorize and bankrupt the families. In case of a conviction, the time spent in house arrest by the minor is normally not taken into consideration when airing the final prison sentence.
Ali Maswade, 15 years old from Dandara Silwan (children rap group appearing in this photograph):
I wanted to be part of Room No. 4 campaign because I am from Silwan and I live among settlers and under occupation and I see the injustice that happens to us, arrests everyday, so I wanted to deliver the message to the world and to tell them that we are also human beings and it is not necessary to have arrests everyday, and I hope that our message through the photograph will tell you the story of our life and the arrests that keep happening to us.
Thank god I myself was never arrested but I have friends and family members who were arrested. My dad was in prison and I know how hard it is, it makes us hate the situation we are in because of the unnecessary investigations that happen with us… I hope I spoke what is in my heart.
According to the Israeli law, criminal and legal procedures law (powers of execution- arrests) for the year 1996, you may arrest suspects accused of carrying out criminal offenses in specific cases prescribed by law including the seriousness of the violation committed by the accused, the defendant being dangerous to the security and safety of the public and the jamming of the investigation.
Even in the event of a legal justification authorizing detention, the court must examine the possibility of avoiding the actual arrest and check the possibility of the existence of other alternatives that can meet the purpose and avoid the actual arrest inside the prison.
The Israeli law regarding minors, which was made suitable with the international treaties and conventions that deal with children’s issues especially the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, requires not to arrest minors. If possible, the goals of the arrest should be achieved in a way that affects the child’s freedom the least and for the shortest period possible. In all cases, the court needs to take into consideration the age of the minor and the physical and psychological effect of the arrest.
According to these principles, the court can transfer a minor that was arrested from being detained inside a prison to house arrest after placing some additional conditions to ensure the implementation of the goals of the arrest such as monitoring the child inside his home during the duration of the house arrest and written and actual financial bails.
In reality, the Israeli courts pursue a different approach to the spirit and principles of the law of arresting minors since children are transferred to house arrest only in exceptional cases, and the judicial services do not hesitate to order the arrest of minors and extend their arrest inside the Israeli prisons under several pretexts such as: the seriousness of charges against him/her (mostly throwing stones) which do not allow the child to be transferred to house arrest or the lack of convincing guarantees and alternatives to enable them to transfer the children to house arrest since the court usually requests the child not to go back to his parents’ house and to go a relative’s house outside the area where he committed the “legal violation” which really puts pressure on the child’s family and only a few are able to meet the required conditions.
One of the conditions that the courts require in order to substitute the actual arrest for house arrest is the so-called “electronic monitor” which guarantees the presence of an electronic monitoring system through a special company to ensure the minor does not violate the arrest conditions; note that the company does not operate in most areas of East Jerusalem for “security reasons.”
If the parents of the minors were able to meet the required guarantees including the deposit of a big amount of money and providing written financial commitments, they will always be at risk of losing those guarantees if the arrest conditions were violated especially when talking about children as it is very hard to prevent them from leaving the house for long durations which could be months.
Finally, we can argue that house arrest is not the worst between both types but remains a heavy burden on the shoulders of the detainees, and their families are often unable to carry.