1st February 2017 | International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil team | Hebron, occupied Palestine
On Wednesday, 1st February 2017, Israeli forces intimidated school-children on their way to school. In the process, they closed one of the main checkpoints delaying teachers and school-children as they were on their way to school.
As groups of children were passing the checkpoint in both directions to reach their schools, a few children ran up to the checkpoint throwing pebbles at the big metal structure. These children were immediately stopped by Palestinian adults and shortly after ran off. Despite the fact that the checkpoint is fenced off with metal and it is therefore impossible to actually hit anyone, the Israeli forces immediately came out of the checkpoint-box, as the children ran away.
The soldiers immediately locked the turnstiles, the one leading into the checkpoint box and the one allowing people that have passed the checkpoint to go out onto the street. Three boys, after having passed the metal detector, were locked inside the checkpoint, as soldiers prohibited them from passing the turnstile, keeping it locked. When asked by ISMers to allow the boys to leave, a female soldier told them that she’s ‘doing her job’, and they will have to wait till everything is over. This was after the boys throwing the stones had already left the area. She refused to let the boys go even though they clearly were not involved–insisting that it was ‘her job’. This constitutes a form of collective punishment illegal under Art. 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and is considered a war crime.
Shortly after, people were gathering at the turnstile at the entrance to the checkpoint. A total of two men, two school-boys and one school-girl were trapped on this side of the checkpoint. When they asked the soldiers to open, they were yelled at and told to ‘shut up’. Several left, but others patiently waited for the Israeli forces to allow them in – one by one only, a process that goes very slowly.
Shortly after, a group of Israeli forces went through the gate at the checkpoint, walking towards the cluster of schools located behind the checkpoint.
As the Israeli forces approached the schools, teachers made sure that their students would get to school, safely past the Israeli forces.
The soldiers pointed their live-ammunition assault-rifles several times at school-children: a form of intimidation used on school children regardless of their age.