Total Pageviews

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Israeli Army Clears Soldiers Who Detained Child for Throwing Rock at Settler’s Car

Video recorded on Tuesday in the West Bank city of Hebron showed Israeli soldiers detaining a five-year-old boy for throwing a rock at a settler’s car.

Seven Israeli soldiers who detained a five-year-old Palestinian boy for rock-throwing this week in the West Bank city of Hebron have been cleared of any wrongdoing by their superiors, after a review of video of the incident published on Thursday by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.

The rights group, also known as The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, said in a statement posted online, along with seven brief video clips recorded on Tuesday afternoon, that it had drawn attention to the incident in a letter to the military’s legal adviser for the territory that has been occupied by Israel since 1967. According to B’Tselem, which provides cameras to Palestinians to help them document the actions of Israeli soldiers, the officers detained the boy, Wadi’a Maswadeh, for two hours and “threatened the child and his parents, handcuffed and blindfolded the father, and handed the boy over to the Palestinian Police. Detaining a child below the age of criminal responsibility, specially one so young, has no legal justification.”

Eytan Buchman, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said soldiers took the boy to his home, and then, with his parents, to a Palestinian police station. “This kid was throwing stones on the street,” Mr. Buchman said. “He wasn’t arrested. He was escorted to his parents. A huge difference.” He said the minimum age for charging stone-throwers in the West Bank is 12.

Mr. Buchman added that the Army had reviewed the incident after B’Tselem publicized the video, and found the soldiers had conducted themselves correctly. “It’s the kind of thing that warrants checking to make sure everything was okay.”

In her letter to the authorities, B’Tselem’s director, Jessica Montell, complained of the very ordinariness of the scene captured on video. “The footage clearly shows that this was not a mistake made by an individual soldier, but rather conduct that, to our alarm, was considered reasonable by all the military personnel involved, including senior officers. It is particularly troubling that none of them apparently thought any part of the incident wad problematic: not the fact that they scared a five-year-old boy out of his wits, nor threatening him and his parents to ‘hand him over’ to the Palestinian Police, nor threatening to arrest the father on no legal grounds, nor handcuffing and blindfolding the father in front of his son.”

Video recorded on Tuesday in Hebron showed the father of a Palestinian boy detained for rock-throwing blindfolded and handcuffed.

In one of the video clips of the incident, recorded at a checkpoint after the boy’s father, Karam Maswadeh, had been blindfolded and handcuffed, a senior Israeli officer could be seen gesturing at the camera filming the scene. A short time later, the blindfold and handcuffs were removed. Mr. Maswadeh, who speaks Hebew, told B’Tselem that the senior officer had reprimanded the soldiers for detaining the father and son in full view of cameras. “You’re harming our public image,” he reportedly told them.

Israeli security forces are present in large numbers in Hebron to protect several hundred Jewish settlers who moved to the city of nearly 200,000 Palestinians after it was occupied in 1967. The boy was detained near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, a site revered by Jews and Muslims as the traditional burial place of the founding fathers of both religions. Hebron’s original Jewish community fled in 1929, after 67 Jews were killed during Arab riots against Jewish immigration to British-ruled Palestine.

The final clip in the B’Tselem series shows the boy and his father being turned over to a laughing Palestinian police officer. They were released after a brief interrogation, relatives told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Video of a Palestinian boy detained for rock-throwing by Israeli soldiers on Tuesday in Hebron being turned over to the Palestinian police along with his father.

Writing on Twitter later on Thursday, Ms. Montell responded to an Israeli blogger who defended the actions of the officers by arguing that the occupation authorities do not detain the children of settlers who through stones at Palestinians.

Sarit Michaeli, a B’Tselem spokeswoman, told the Israeli news blog +972: “We have extensive documentation of lawbreaking by young Israeli children in Hebron. Settler children under the age of criminal responsibility have often thrown stones at Palestinians with impunity. We are certainly not advocating that Israeli minors under the age of criminal responsibility are arrested - quite the contrary - but the discriminatory treatment is glaring.”

As The Lede reported in March, an Israeli military blog post, headlined “Rocks Can Kill,” described in detail the cases of six Israelis who were killed by stones hurled by Palestinians over the past 30 years.

Reporting was contributed by Jodi Rudoren in Jerusalem.