In the last month, the Israeli military has been detaining children for extended lengths of time in the Old City, and at times appearing to be “practicing” soldiery by randomly selecting boys off the street and searching them.
In one incident, a fifteen-year-old neighbor of the Hebron team was cutting a rope on a package of materials in his father’s shop when soldiers saw him. They grabbed him, blindfolded him, and led him off to their military gate at another checkpoint close to a settlement. The father followed the soldiers, pleading for his son, trying to explain why the son needed to use a knife.
The next week, another neighbor boy, age fourteen, was running an errand for his father who asked him to hurry because there was another meeting that he, the father, needed to attend. Unfortunately, this boy was wearing a coat similar to a child whom the soldiers said had thrown a stone at them. Six soldiers apprehended him. Even before the soldiers had released him, four more soldiers led a ten-year-old boy and his eight-year-old brother behind the gate also. The soldiers insisted they too were throwing stones. At this point, one of the CPTers stepped up to the gate on the Palestinian side to take a picture of the action through the cracks in the gate. One of the soldiers from the other side forcefully threw or kicked a stone at the gate close to the CPTer’s ear.
After one hour, the father of the two younger boys arrived from his work, punished his boys in front of the soldiers, and then led them home, his hands squeezing the neck of the smallest boy. The CPTer looked at the soldiers responsible and said: “Are you happy now?” As one soldier put his arm around a fellow soldier, he responded, “Yes, I am happy now.”
A Palestinian bystander commented: “See, if they can’t punish the father, they will get the children, harass them until the family finally moves away.”