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Tel Rumeida: Children Detained for Possession of a Butter Knife

By the ISM Media Team

Monday June 18th, 2007

At 2:45pm two international human rights workers were walking down the hill from the olive groves, toward the top of Tel Rumeida hill, when some local Palestinian children told the HRWs that some Palestinian boys were in trouble with police down the street.

The HRWs went down the street where a group of about 10 Palestinians men, and young men, were standing around a police jeep. TIPH was also present. An Israeli policeman was speaking with two Palestinian boys, 16 years of age, one of whose father was present. The Palestinian boys father was very angry with his son, and was yelling at him while, at the same time, trying to convince the policeman to release his son. However the policeman then told the two boys to get into the jeep, and closed the doors.

When an HRW spoke with the policeman and asked him what happened the policeman responded “I am not required to speak with you,” and “I do not have to tell you anything.” At this point the other HRW called one of the Palestinian boy’s brother, who is a human rights worker himself.

The boys brother came directly and told the police he would go with his younger brother, and the other resident boy, to the police station. The police then took the boys, and the Palestinian human rights worker, to Kiryat Arba Police station.

During this time, TIPH was able to take the statements of one of the Palestinian boys.

Apparently what happened, as the HRWs and TIPH learned from a local Palestinian boy who was present during the incident, is that the boys had been walking and spotted a large electrical cable in a pile of trash. They cut the cable, with a small knife, and began dragging it to the Palestinian controlled section of Hebron, where they could sell the cable. A Settler had been watching the boys, as they did this, from the Jewish cemetery and called the police, on his phone, and a nearby soldier to intervene. Apparently the Settler had said that the boys had made threatening gestures with the small knife they used to cut the cable, though it was nothing more than a butter knife.

The soldier detained the boys, and the police, who arrived quickly, immediately began to question the two oldest boys and said they would be taken to Kiryat Arba. The Palestinian boys brother told the HRWs that, at Kiryat Arba, the boys had told the police that the cable belonged to no one, and that they had never threatened the settler with the knife. The Settler had yelled at them, and they had ignored him because they wanted the cable. The police released the boys because it was obvious that the cable was trash, and belonged to no one and the knife could obviously not hurt anyone.

The Palestinian boys had been questioned at the Kiryat Arba police station for about half an hour before they were driven back to Tel Rumeida. They were gone from Tel Rumeida for about 45 minutes.

One of the other boys who was present during the incident was told, by the Palestinians who had gone to Kiryat Arba, that the police were looking for him so he left the area and went home.