A 5-year-old being taken to an army vehicle in Hebron. Screen capture from a video.
Incidents of Palestinian teenagers being arrested for throwing rocks are common in Hebron, where tensions with Israeli settlers usually run high. But videos recently filmed by activists show the detention of an exceptionally young child – just five years old.
The incident, which occurred on Tuesday afternoon, was captured on film by activists from B’Tselem
, an Israeli human rights organisation that has equipped field workers with cameras throughout the West Bank. The first video, filmed in Hebron’s old city, shows the screaming, crying boy being led by a Palestinian teenager into an army vehicle as a group of armed soldiers watched.
The boy is escorted to an army vehicle by soldiers. Screen capture from video. FRANCE 24 has decided not to publish the full video to protect the child's privacy.
The boy being taken into an army vehicle. Screen capture from video.
From there, according to B’Tselem, the boy was taken home, where the soldiers picked up his father, identified as Karem Maswadeh; they then took both of them to a nearby checkpoint, where B’Tselem activists resumed filming. In the video, the father is seen blindfolded and handcuffed, with his son by his side, as IDF soldiers wait for a liaison with the local Palestinian authorities to arrive. An IDF spokesman told FRANCE 24 that it was standard procedure for people to be handcuffed and blindfolded when taken inside a military structure, like Maswadeh was.
The boy's father was hancuffed and blindfloded. Screen capture from video.
According to a statement released by the IDF, which says the boy was caught hurling rocks towards a public street in Hebron, “he was passed onto the care of the Palestinian Security Forces, all the while accompanied by his parents. The child was not arrested and no charges were filed.” The boy and his father were then released.
Under Israeli law, children under age 12 cannot be held criminally responsible for their actions. B’Tselem’s director has written a letter to the Judea and Samaria legal adviser contending that the soldiers had illegally arrested the child, and is now awaiting an answer.
The video has become front-page news in Israeli media, prompting outrage among many commenters. Prominent columnist Ami Kaufman argues in 972 magazine
that the child’s treatment was motivated by racism.