Video: Israeli soldier assaults child playing on Jews-only road

Eight-year-old Anwar Burqan was playing with her young sister and brothers in al-Ibrahimi Street, near their home in Hebron’s al-Salaima neighborhood on 25 July when their games were interrupted by Israel’s pervasive military occupation.

The video above, filmed by local resident Raed Abu Ramileh and published by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, shows some of what happened.

According to Anwar’s account, she was riding a bicycle belonging to one of her brothers when an Israeli Border Police combatant ran over, stepped on the bicycle and took it away from her.

The child can be seen raising her arm in apparent reflexive self-defense.

As can be heard in the video, the combatant shouts at her to “go home” and the child bursts into tears. The rifle-bearing soldier then throws the bicycle into the bushes.

“Only Jews walk here”

As cruel as this assault – threatening behavior that puts another person in fear of immediate physical harm – is, it is no random act, but rather enforcement of Israel’s segregation policy in the occupied West Bank city.

As B’Tselem states, in 2012, Israeli occupation forces erected a chain-link fence along al-Ibrahimi street, a major thoroughfare, “leaving the main road on one side of the fence, and a narrow, unpaved and rough pedestrian path on the other.”

Palestinians were prohibited from using the main, paved street and forced to use the narrow unpaved section.

B’Tselem has published videos showing Israeli occupation forces implementing a strict Jews-only policy on the main road.

“This side’s for Jews and that’s for Arabs,” a soldier tells field researchers Musa Abu Hashhash and Manal al-Ja’bri in this 2013 video:

In this video from last year, an occupation soldier asks a Palestinian field researcher, “Are you an Arab?”

The soldier then tells him, “Only Jews walk here.”

B’Tselem notes that Israel lifted the segregation policy after 2013, but has reimposed it with vigor since January 2015.

Taking over the Old City

The segregation causes particular hardship to Anwar’s father, Amer Burqan, who uses a wheelchair.

The separate-and-unequal access to al-Ibrahimi Street is part of Israel’s broader policy of segregation in Hebron’s Old City, imposed for the benefit of Israeli settlers ever since Baruch Goldstein’s massacre of 29 Palestinians in the city’s Ibrahimi mosque in February 1994.

As part of this policy, Hebron was separated into two zones: “H1” and “H2.”

H1 is nominally administered by the Palestinian Authority and is home to more than 120,000 Palestinians.

H2, under full Israeli military rule, includes Hebron’s historic Old City as well as the Ibrahimi mosque.

Israeli occupation forces severely restrict the movement of more than 30,000 Palestinians in H2 while Israeli settlers move about freely under army protection.

Thousands of Palestinian households and businesses have been driven out of the area.

Settlers have aggressively seized Palestinian properties in the Old City, leaving much of the city center a ghost town.

As the video at the top of this articles shows, no Palestinian, not even children playing near their homes, are spared the everyday violence of Israel’s settler-colonialism and apartheid.

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And the Israelis wonder why Palestinian children grow to hate them. And the Israelis claim that it is the Palestinians who teach their children to hate Israelis. These videos show us clearly it it the shameful bigoted apartheid and the full blown show of blatant disrespect the Israelis show to the people of Palestine that results in the animosity of the Palestinians against the Israelis.

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The videos are quite chilling. We witness the process of ghetto construction. The historical resonances are unmistakable.

It's a disturbing fact that acts of petty spite such as stealing a little girl's bicycle at gunpoint or telling pedestrians to walk along a narrow broken path simply because they're not Jewish, have the power to compel disgust when insuperably more barbaric acts such as bombing of refugee camps and mass expulsions leave so many observers calmly indifferent. The thousand daily indignities of apartheid are on display in these images.

So many in the West have numbed themselves to the large scale horrors of murder and rapine, yet remain susceptible to videos such as these, which strike them at a more intimate level, that of the self. They seem not to ask, "How would I react if my village were destroyed, my family killed, my people driven into exile?" Yet in the abuse of one little girl, or the denial of a simple right of transit, they see themselves at last caught as it were in a net of inhumanity. The sheer meanness of apartheid is a potent recruiter for the Palestinian cause where, sadly, discourses of catastrophe do not always generate a sympathetic response. Many people cannot imagine themselves under a hail of artillery shells, or have hardened themselves ideologically against reason, but these small recorded instances of malignity are often persuasive.

It's a good thing to be exposed to such footage as appears here today. These videos will bring home to many the actuality of living in a racist state as no furious act of "self defense" by Israel ever can.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.