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17 Year Old Girl Arrested in Tel Rumeida

On Monday, November 5, 2007, at 7:15 AM, a 17-year-old girl was detained at the Tel Rumeida checkpoint and was arrested for the false charge of attacking a soldier.

Two international Human Rights Workers (HRWs) were present, and saw the incident occur. The girl was stopped whilst walking past the checkpoint by a soldier who had been checking every Palestinian walking past. When he checked her, he noticed something up her sleeve, and demanded that she show it to him. She was at first quite reluctant to show him, but he was insistent, and after about 30 seconds she took out an eight inch-long knife, and held it in her hand. The soldier, clearly frightened, cocked his rifle and pointed it at the girl and yelled at her to drop it. The girl, also clearly frightened, backed away several feet but did not let go of the knife at first. She continued to hold it in her hand, but backed away and moved against a wall, about ten feet away from the soldier. The soldier continued to point the gun at her and yell at her, and after about 10 seconds, the girl tossed the knife away from her and away from the soldier and put her hands up to show that she was not trying to hurt him. She also dropped the bag she was carrying when the soldier asked her to, and held her hands up in the air again. He yelled at her again, and she tossed the bag in the same direction she tossed the knife, away from both herself and the soldier, and again she held her hands in the air.

He then again pointed his rifle at the girl and asked her what was in her bag. She responded in Arabic, “Katub,” but he didn’t understand so he continued yelling at her until she said in English, “Books.”

After about 10 minutes of detaining the girl at the checkpoint, two more soldiers arrived and took the girl up the hill and into the Tel Rumedia settlement. Two other soldiers prevented the HRW with the camera from following the girl or asking her questions, saying that she was “interfering.” However, they allowed two settlers – a young boy on a bike and another man, free access to stand wherever they wished, which was often right next to the girl.

The police arrived soon after, and held the girl for about 40 minutes inside the settlement. They handcuffed her and questioned her intermittently. They did allow a Palestinian woman from the neighborhood approach the police van to get the girl’s name so she could notify her family. After the 40 minutes, the police took her away in their van.

Meanwhile, the soldiers who had discovered the knife were telling the Palestinians who were walking through the checkpoint that the girl had a gun in her bag. However, when a HRW watched the soldiers check through the bag, she saw that there were only books and papers inside. When the HRW asked the soldier why he was telling people that the girl had a gun, he responded, “She tried to kill me!”

At the time of this report, the soldiers have told the police that the girl attempted to stab one of them, and they are calling it a “terrorist attack.” The Red Cross and other organizations are working on the case and helping her family get a lawyer.

Video of the incident will follow shortly.