by ISM Hebron
On Sunday August 27th, two HRWs were on Shuhada Street in front of the military post which watches the Beit Hadassa settlement in Hebron. At around 5 p.m. a group of six Palestinian kids between approximately 10 and 12 years of age, who had been around the area for a few hours, went towards the checkpoint and started a conversation with the soldier in the military post. After a couple of minutes, the group of kids sat down on the steps in opposite of the post and started obviously joking with the soldier, so that it was not clear if the kids were detained, or if they were just joking around with the soldier. The HRWs wanted to clarify the situation and asked the soldier what the kids are doing there. The soldier responded that the kids were detained because they tried to steal a bicycle from the settlement and that he called the police to deal with this case. The HRW asked the soldier to let the kids leave, but he refused to do so. A short time later, some Palestinian residents started talking to the soldier.
At about 5.30 p.m. one police officer and four Border policemen arrived at the military post and started questioning the boys and talking to a Palestinian woman who was still around. After about 15 minutes, three boys were allowed to leave and the Palestinian woman left with them, giving each a cuff on the head. The other three boys were still there, and the police officer told the HRW, who tried to intervene, that he should leave because they were “taking the kids back home”. The HRWs moved back several yards and saw the border police and the police officer take one boy after another into the military post, behind the camouflage netting, where the HRWs couldn’t see what was being done. When the first boy came out again (after about 15 seconds), the HRW saw that he was holding his head, so they suspected that those boys were taken in there to beat them. The HRW went quickly towards the military post while asking the soldiers and the police, if they would beat the kids in there. Being closer to the post, the HRW was able to hear slaps and see obvious moves. The Border Police came quickly towards the HRWs and tried to intimidate them while asking them questions and demanding their passports. Meanwhile, the three boys left.