A 14-year-old boy with dual U.S.-Palestinian citizenship went before an Israeli military court on Thursday accused of throwing stones at Israeli cars in the occupied West Bank.
The case has cast a spotlight on the hundreds of Palestinian minors detained by the Israeli military for stone-throwing. Human rights groups have condemned such jailings. Israel’s military says the age of detainees is irrelevant when set against the fact that mass stone-throwing can endanger life.
Mohammed Khalak, his ankles shackled together just above his running shoes, was accused along with two other youths of pelting Israeli military and settler vehicles outside the village of Silwad.
The case was quickly adjourned until next week and Khalak’s father accused the United States of not doing enough to help his son.
“The U.S. government is obligated to do something for us, but it doesn’t even care. They’ve lost the issue somewhere in their back pocket,” Abdulwahab Khalak said, adding that consular authorities had visited the boy but not promised any help.
The U.S. consulate in Jerusalem declined to comment, citing American privacy laws. A U.S. State Department spokesman in Washington on Wednesday said he was unaware of the case.
Khalak said his son, born in New Orleans, was maltreated and had his braces broken from his teeth during the course of his arrest in the early hours of April 5, in which he said heavily armed Israeli forces entered the family home.
The Israeli military declined comment on the accusations.
Defense of Children International, a human rights group, says that there are 236 Palestinian minors aged 12-17 among a total 4,800 Palestinians in Israeli jails.
“The Israeli military’s treatment of Mohammed Khalak is appalling and all too common,” said Bill Van Esveld, a researcher for Human Rights Watch. “There’s no justification for … shackling him for 12 hours and interrogating him while refusing to let him see his father or a lawyer.”