Free the 5 Hares Boys

ISM London is asking all those who support human rights to write to the British Foreign Secretary the Rt. Hon. William Hague, to their MP and to the British Consulate in Jerusalem demanding the release of five boys from the village of Hares, Salfit, occupied Palestine.

The boys were arrested as part of a sustained campaign of violent arrests by the Israeli Army in March 2013. The Army were looking for boys who had been throwing stones alleged to have struck a settler car that then hit a truck injuring both the settler and her children.

Once arrested, the boys were subjected to abuse and ill-behaviour constituting torture. Upon detention, they were kept in solitary confinement for up to two weeks. One boy, since released, described his cell: a windowless hole 1m wide and 2m long; there was no mattress or blanket to sleep on; toilet facilities were dirty; the six lights were kept on continuously, causing the boy to lose track of the time of the day; the food made him feel ill. The boy was denied access to a lawyer; he was interrogated violently three times during three days, and eventually released after found not guilty at trial.

Other boys have also described very similar treatment to their lawyers. They “confessed” to stone-throwing after being repeatedly abused in prison and during interrogation.

There is no evidence against the boys and witnesses have stated they saw no stone-throwing in the area. In fact, the driver of the truck into which the settler’s car crashed first stated that he pulled over because he thought he had a flat tyre. Only later did he change his story to say that he pulled over due to stone-throwing.

The five boys from Hares are charged with 25 counts of attempted murder each, apparently one count for every alleged stone thrown at passing cars. The Israeli prosecution insists that the boys consciously “intended to kill” and are asking for the maximum punishment for attempted murder: 25 years to life imprisonment.

The prosecution’s case relies on the boys’ “confessions”, which were obtained under torture, and 61 “witnesses,” some of whom claim that their cars were damaged by stones on Road 5 on the same day. These witnesses only appeared after the car accident received a lot of media coverage as a “terrorist act”, and the Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu announced, following the boys’ arrest, that he “caught the terrorists that did it”. Other “witnesses” include the police and the Shabak, who were not even present at that location at the time. It is unclear whether the 61 “witnesses” have been properly questioned and their claims verified with CCTV footage and hospital admission data, or even if the alleged damage to their vehicles has been photographed or otherwise documented. Such information is not even available to the boys’ lawyers.

If the boys are convicted, this case would set a legal precedent that would allow the Israeli military to convict any Palestinian child for attempted murder in cases of stone-throwing.

The boys are now 16-17 years old. If the Israeli military get their way, the boys would only return to their homes and their families at the age of 41 – at best. Five young lives ruined with no evidence of their guilt, a slap in the face to all who believe in principles of justice.

What you can do

We would ask you all to support and share the campaign with your friends at https://www.facebook.com/FreeTheHaresBoys?ref=ts&fref=ts

Write to the Foreign Secretary the Rt. Hon. William Hague:

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

King Charles Street

London

SW1A 2AH

private.office@fco.gsi.gov.uk

Write to your MP – http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/

Please also write a letter to your embassy. Here is suggested letter that can be used to email and/or telephone the embassy (PDF EN):

Twitter – @haresboys

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