IDF detains 5-year-old Palestinian rock thrower

B'Tselem complains to Legal Adviser in Judea and Samaria that IDF acted illegally by detaining a child under the age of 12.

July 11, 2013 22:44
3 minute read.
Five-year-old Palestinian boy detained by IDF

Five-year-old Palestinian boy detained by IDF 370. (photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)


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The IDF briefly detained a five-year-old Palestinian boy for throwing rocks at a car on the road by the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

Brief portions of the incident around the boy’s detention were caught on film by the NGO B’Tselem, posted on YouTube and circulated to the media on Thursday.

IDF soldiers filmed detaining 
five-year old Palestinian boy

The NGO on Wednesday complained to the legal adviser in Judea and Samaria that the IDF acted illegally according to Israeli law by detaining a child under the age of 12.

According to B’Tselem, the incident occurred at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, when the IDF detained Wadi’a Maswadeh.

B’Tselem field worker Manal al-Ja’bari caught some of the initial moments on video, as soldiers and a small group of Palestinian adults and children gathered around Maswadeh, who wore a sleeveless orange shirt, blue jean shorts and sandals.

The boy sobbed, as a Palestinian teenager, who tried to be helpful, led him to an army jeep.

When the jeep door opened, he began screamed and jumped up and down as he tried to pull away.

After a few moments, he calmed down and climbed into the jeep, along with a a Palestinian observer.

The IDF brought him to his home nearby. The soldiers told his mother that they wanted to bring him to the Palestinian police, according to B’Tselem.

His mother insisted that nothing could happen until Maswadeh’s father came home. While they waited, Maswadeh hid behind a mattress and cried, according to the NGO.

Maswadeh’s father Karem recalled for B’Tselem the moment when he arrived. He asked the soldiers not to hand his son over to the Palestinian police.

“When I got home, I saw several soldiers standing at the entrance to my house. An officer came up to me and ordered me to get my son, Wadi’a,” Karem said

“Before I got home, the soldiers had tried to persuade my wife to hand Wadi’a over, but she had refused to do it until I came back. The officer told me that he was going to arrest Wadi’a and hand him over to the Palestinian Coordination. I asked him, “‘Why arrest a five-year-old boy?’”

“A soldier standing next to the officer showed me a stone and claimed that my son had thrown it, and that it had hit the car of a settler who was driving north, near Abed checkpoint. I tried to persuade the officer not to take Wadi’a to the DCO [district coordination office], but he said that if I didn’t bring him, I’d be arrested.… I went inside the house and got Wadi’a, who was hiding there. He was crying.”

Additional video shot by B’Tselem showed Karem and his son as they walked down Shuhadah Street to the Hashoter checkpoint.

There they waited for the Palestinian police. At one point, Karem’s hands were tied and he was blindfolded.

According to B’Tselem, the incident lasted for two hours, after which the father and son were handed over to the Palestinian police, who helped them briefly before releasing them.

“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,” B’Tselem director Jessica Montell wrote in the organization’s letter to the Judea and Samaria legal advisor.

“It is particularly troubling that none of them apparently thought any part of the incident was 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,” she continued.

B’Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli told The Jerusalem Post that given the boy’s age, the army should have dealt with the parents, not the child.

The IDF said that soldiers had identified a boy who had thrown rocks at a car, stopped him and handed him over to the Palestinian police. It added that it would look into the matter with the relevant IDF authorities.

But it noted that B’Tselem should have turned to the IDF first, rather than running to the media. The NGO said in response that it had in fact written to the IDF one day earlier.

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