Hares boys: an update
On the 28th of January 2016, five teenage boys from Hares were officially sentenced to 15 years imprisonment following an accident in which a settler’s car was involved. The only evidence to convict these 16-year old boys was confessions written in Hebrew – a language none of the boys speak – signed after brutal interrogation. They were charged with “intention to kill” by throwing stones. Court hearings were in Hebrew, sometimes with inadequate Arabic interpretation meaning that their families were unable to follow or understand all of the proceedings.
The IWPS team met recently with one of the boys’ mothers to discuss the current situation. The boys are now 19 years old.
Under international law, it is illegal to move prisoners outside of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) yet they have spent time in three different prisons outside of the OPT. They were first sent to Mejiddo prison for three years while awaiting their sentence. Last March some were moved to Ramun prison. Four of the boys are now in Al Naqqab prison and one boy named Mohammed Kleib is still in Mejiddo. These moves are spontaneous and the families only find out through word of mouth from other prisoner’s families after the event.
The parents were initially given permits to visit their children in prison twice a month for 45 minutes. This was then reduced to once a month in Al Naqqab prison. Siblings are only rarely given permission. When there, they talk to the boys behind a screen with a telephone, which does not work well so it is very difficult for them to hear each other. They are only allowed physical contact once every 5 years. Some mothers have actually been arrested themselves following prison visits for talking about certain, potentially politically sensitive, topics. Families are therefore aware that they are taking a risk simply in visiting their own children.
Families are given permission to take a limited amount of clothing twice a year – once in winter and once in summer. The criteria for this clothing is extremely specific, not allowing buttons, zips, or anything black/brown/grey. This makes the task of finding suitable clothing very difficult for the families as such items are hard to come by.
The last time Ali Shamlawi’s parents were allowed to visit him was the 6th of July. On the 22nd of August, they were refused entry at a checkpoint without reason. When they asked why, they were ignored.
Now all of the Hares boys’ parents have had their permits rejected and confiscated. They do not know when they will next be allowed to see their sons.
“I can’t describe the effect. I want my son with me. At least I want to see him, to know how he is feeling. When we visit him we can speak to him, know how he is. But now I don’t know anything about him” – Ali Shamlawi’s mother.