20th March 2014 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus Team | Bruqin, Occupied Palestine
On Tuesday 18th March, Israeli forces entered the village of Bruqin and arrested 13-year-old Abdel Hafez Mohammed, holding him for seven hours before releasing him later in the day.
Abdel Hafez Mohammed Samara was working on his land, picking ‘aqoub’ (a local plant), and allowing his sheep to grave, when an Israeli soldier and two security guards called him to the closest road, which is nearby the illegal settlement of Ariel.
Abdel went to speak to the soldier and the security staff and he was told to throw away the small broken knife that he had been using to cut away the aqoub. He was then forced to kneel down, while guns were pointed directly at him. At that moment, Walid Samara, a local teacher who had been working in the nearby village of Hares stopped on the road close to Abdel. He was threatened at gunpoint and then beaten as two Israeli police officers arrived to arrest him and Abdel.
The police officer then accused Abdel of threatening the guards with his knife, and Walid of attacking them with stones. They were both taken to a nearby checkpoint, Walid was then released but Abdel was taken to the police station in the illegal settlement of Ariel.
Abdel was then interrogated for four hours before his father was called. Once his father arrived, he was able to see his son, but not allowed to say anything during the interrogation. The Israeli police took fingerprints from both Abdel and his father before forcing them both to sign conditions saying that did not have the right to go back to the land to graze their sheep or to cut aqoub.
Israeli forces are increasingly intimidating, beating and arresting Palestinians, and the arrest of children is unfortunately common. In the second half of February alone, Israeli forces arrested 31 children. According to recent figures by the Prisoners’ Affairs Ministry, as many as 187 Palestinian children remain jailed in Israeli prisons on various charges.