Tuesday, November 24, 2020

B‘Tselem: eight-year-old from Hebron seized by a group of Israeli soldiers - why?

By The Palestine Monitor - March 25, 2017
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Hebron] [child arrests] [IDF]

On Sunday, last week, eight-year-old Sufian Abu Hitah from Hebron was seized by a group of Israeli soldiers, moved to another neighborhood, and asked to point out children who had thrown a Molotov cocktail and stones to Kiryat Arba –a settlement next to Hebron, on that same day.

A video documenting what happened was released by Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. The organization released the footage online, explaining that two residents of the neighborhood, one of them B’Tselem volunteer May D’ana, captured parts of the incident on video.

B'Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bri also collected testimonies from the families who witnessed the event. Sufian’s mother, Amani Abu Hitah, explained that her son was outside the house because he was looking for a toy, and that he had nothing to do with the incident that took place in Kiryat Arba. She added that her sons and herself do not even live in the neighborhood. She said they were only visiting her parents (Sufian’s grand parents); hence Sufian could not possible know anything about the stones and Molotov cocktail throwing.

Here is what Sufian’s mother told B’tselem: “I told the soldier that Sufian doesn’t know the names of the neighborhood kids. He ignored me, and the soldiers kept on dragging Sufian by the arms. First they took him in the direction of Kiryat Arba and then towards the street that leads to the Jabal Juhar area”.

She described at least “fifteen soldiers” taking her child into someone’s house, and Sufian coming out of the house crying. She suspected the soldiers may have beaten Sufian –although there’s no evidence of such a treatment. Then she describes the soldiers taking Sufian from house to house, supposedly for him to name stones or Molotov cocktail throwers.

Neighbors tried to help to have Sufian released but the soldiers kept him for more than an hour according to B’tselem.
The Israeli army is currently investigating the incident. Reasons for the whole story are still unknown.

In response to Israeli daily Haaretz, the Israeli Defense Force  said: "From an initial inquiry, it appears that last Sunday, an observation point spotted a firebomb being thrown at [adjoining Jewish settlement] of Kiryat Arba. An IDF force that was dispatched to the site caught a suspect and led him to his parent's house because he is a minor. It should be noted that from an initial inquiry, the force did not demand that the minor direct them to additional suspects."

However, according to a later story published by Ynet news, the Israeli Defense Force issued a statement following the incident, saying that the boy was detained after it was suspected he had thrown a Molotov cocktail. Also according to the Ynet news story, the Israeli army said the whole incident lasted for 10 minutes.

In any case, the soldiers shown by the video are new to the area, and they are from the Golani brigade. Although it is possible they did not know much about the surroundings, it is still impossible to consider an eight-year-old as criminally responsible. According to Israeli law, children younger than 12 cannot be punished for criminal acts. Besides, Sufian is heard in the video asking soldiers “Which boy? I don’t know who he is”.

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