A border policeman who confiscated a bicycle from an eight-year-old Palestinian girl in Hebron was suspended from active duty on Tuesday after a video of the incident went viral on YouTube.
The event was filmed by a volunteer from the Israeli nongovernmental group, B’Tselem.
While it took place over a week ago, on July 25, the NGO only posted the 65-second clip Monday. It shows the border police officer stopping the girl, Anwar Burkan, on a street near the Cave of the Patriarchs.
The site is heavily guarded by security forces, and is considered a highly sensitive area of the mostly Palestinian city.
The pedestrian area in front of the tomb is blocked off to Palestinians, who are directed to use an alternate path which is behind a concrete barrier and small wire fence. Still, some Palestinian traffic is allowed and small children can often be seen playing nearby.
In the video, the girl is shown screaming as the policeman approached and clutched her bicycle, then put his foot on it in apparent attempt to keep her from taking it. After a few seconds she ran off crying in the direction of her six-year held a large plastic toy in his hands. The policeman walked toward them, causing the two children to run away.
There is a break in the video at that point, after which the policeman is shown throwing the bicycle into the bushes.
The Border Police said it regretted the incident, which it takes very seriously and has opened an investigation, a spokesman added.
The children’s father, Mjoub, said that Anwar and Ibrahim had been playing outside for about a half hour when the policeman stopped them.
After the incident, Anwar came home in tears and said she was “afraid,” Mjoub said, adding that the officer “took the bicycle because the settlers and the army are afraid of all Palestinians.”
The large West Bank city of over 215,000 people is under the control of the Palestinian Authority, save for a small section where close to 1,000 Jews live under Israeli military and civilian rule. The city has often been the flashpoint for violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
Hebron has been the scene of multiple attacks by Palestinian terrorists in the last nine months, mostly against security forces. In December, Genady Kaufman, 41, of Kiryat Arba, died of wounds sustained in a Palestinian knife attack next to the Cave of the Patriarchs.
However, the incident which has drawn the most attention occurred in March, when Abdel Fatah al-Sharif, and Ramzi al-Kasrawi, both 21, attacked two soldiers in Hebron, near the Tel Rumeida neighborhood.
One IDF soldier was lightly wounded before other soldiers shot the attackers. Kasrawi was killed and Sharif was wounded and immobilized. As he lay on the ground, IDF soldier Elor Azaria shot him, for which the soldier is now standing trial.
That incident was also caught on video by a B’Tselem volunteer.
Meretz MK Esawi Frej said the incident with the bicycle was clearly not the same, since no one was injured or died.
He said the occurrence last week was about “the banality of evil and the moral degeneration of a soldier who decided to harass an eight-year-old girl just because he felt like it.
“If anyone still needs proof occupation corrupts... watch the video,” he said.Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.
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