This video shows Israeli occupation forces violently arresting two young boys, allegedly for throwing stones, as adults try to protect the children.
Christian Peacemaker Teams, which released the video, says that it shows the arrests of Mohammed Nabil Taha and Akram Zayed al-Jamal, both aged ten, on 17 December.
The video comes in the same week that another group, Defence for Children International–Palestine, released new testimonies from Palestinian children subjected to torture and solitary confinement in Israeli military custody.
The boys were “visibly shaking and crying while the Israeli border police held them in custody for thirty minutes at Qitoun checkpoint 209 in Hebron,” Christian Peacemaker Teams, a civilian group that monitors life under Israeli military occupation in Hebron, says.
Members of Christian Peacemaker Teams “found the boys hidden from view in a corner behind the military checkpoint,” the group stated on Facebook. “When the Israeli military vehicle came to take the children to the police station, the [Israeli paramilitary] Border Police roughly grabbed the boys’ collars as the parents attempted to prevent the children from being taken away.”
In the video, an elder man tries to take the children back from the soldiers, but an occupation officer tells him “No way” as the man holds on to them.
It is unclear from the words spoken in the video how the elder man is related to the boys, although the subtitles refer to him as the father of at least one of them.
“You are criminals,” the exasperated elder exclaims, “these are young boys!”
Growing increasingly frustrated, the elder removes his head covering and says to the soldiers “Go on, shoot me! Shoot me in the head!”
It is to no avail. The boys are put in an unmarked white van while the soldiers assault the distraught man.
The mother of one of the boys was eventually able to accompany them to the police station, Christian Peacemaker Teams adds.
At one point in the video above, one of the occupation officers, perhaps aware of the presence of a video camera, attempts to sound reassuring. “Everything’s fine,” he says, “We have laws here.”
But Palestinian parents and children know that when it comes to their rights, the occupation is lawless and Israeli soldiers and settlers who abuse, torture or kill Palestinians, including children, enjoy near total impunity.
In October, a video emerged of occupation forces in the city violently abusing a mentally disabled Palestinian child as Israeli settlers cheered them on.
Palestinian parents also know – as the Israeli group B’Tselem has documented – that Palestinian children seized by the occupation face violence amounting to torture, including threats of rape directed against themselves and their families.
Children as young as nine have been beaten and blindfolded.
Torture and solitary confinement
Diyaa, sixteen years old, (DCI-Palestine only uses children’s first names) was kicked and beaten as Israeli occupation forces seized him from his family home at 3am.
He was kept in solitary confinement in a windowless cell for fifteen days, taken out every day only for hours of brutal interrogation.
Diyaa testified to DCI-Palestine that the Israeli interrogators wanted him to confess to stone-throwing, an “offense” that can carry a sentence of up to twenty years under Israeli military orders.
“One of the jailers used to beat me whenever I knocked on the door to ask for something,” Diyaa told DCI-Palestine. “He would come to the cell with another jailer, tie my hands and feet, and kick me hard while I was on the floor, and punch me on my stomach and head without any mercy.”
“In Israeli military detention, Palestinian children are held in solitary confinement for interrogation purposes,” says Brad Parker, international advocacy officer and attorney for DCI-Palestine.
That, he adds, “amounts to torture under international law.”
DCI-Palestine says that Israel’s use of solitary confinement against children is widespread – 20 percent of Palestinian child detainees were subjected to solitary confinement during their interrogations in cases it documented in 2012 and 2013.
As of September, DCI-Palestine says it recorded 182 Palestinian children in Israeli detention.
Since 2000, the group says, an estimated eight thousand Palestinian children have been detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system.
Occupation army is not the victim
Israel is the only country in the world, and the only one claiming to be a democracy, which subjects children to military courts. Of course children should not be on trial anyway.
The occupation officer in the video above can be heard accusing the boys of “throwing stones at the army” to justify his armed men dragging them away.
In the video, the boys deny the accusation and say that the occupation soldiers just grabbed them off the street.
While Palestinian youths do throw stones at heavily armed occupation soldiers as a form of community self-defense, protest and resistance, stone-throwing is also frequently a trumped-up charge used to extract confessions under torture and intimidate Palestinian children and youths into becoming informants.
If Palestinian children in Hebron were not forced to grow up under the boot of an occupation army who are there to aid settlers attempting to take over the city, then the issue of stone throwing would never arise in the first place.
The Israeli occupation forces are not the victims.
It is those who occupy Hebron, steal the land of these boys’ communities, and arrest and kill their parents, brothers and sisters who should be held accountable.