Israeli soldiers arrest two Palestinian boys for allegedly throwing stones — even though the only soldier who could identify them admits that he can’t identify them.
There should be nothing normal about holding Palestinian children in detention for hours on end, simply because they were seen in an area where stones were thrown. But that is precisely what Israeli soldiers did this past weekend in the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank.
The incident, captured on film by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, took place last Sunday in Hebron’s Al-Hariqa neighborhood, adjacent to the settlement of Kiryat Arba. Soldiers in the area said they saw two Palestinian children throw stones at the fence surrounding the settlement, but could not identify them. Nevertheless, they came across two brothers, aged 12 and 13, who happened to be in the area at the time. The soldiers are seen on the video detaining the two, while discussing among themselves whether or not to arrest them — admittedly without any evidence that they are indeed responsible for the stone throwing.
The video then shows the soldiers being asked by their commander whether or not the two boys were the culprits. The soldiers respond that they did not actually see the boys’ faces. Not important. An IDF officer arrives on the scene, and decides to send the boys to the local police station for interrogation anyway.
Meanwhile, an uncle of one the boys, who was in the area, is seen pleading with the soldiers — in Arabic, which none of the soldiers seem to speak — that they had detained the wrong boys. The soldiers continue to respond in Hebrew. The only phrases they seem to know in Arabic are “give me your ID” and “what is your name?”
The officer then tells the uncle that should he see anyone throwing stones in the area, he would “go to his house and turn it upside down.”
“I’ll take these two boys away…for a week. If I get another stone here, just one, I’m going straight to him,” he is seen saying.
The soldiers are well aware that they are being filmed. At a certain point, one of them asks another soldier whether he can strike with a club the female Palestinian B’Tselem volunteer. “No bro,” the other responds, “you can’t hit her.”
According to B’Tselem, as of the end of December 2017, Israel was holding 352 Palestinian minors in its prisons. According to Palestinian human rights organization Addameer, which works to support Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli and Palestinian prisons, Israel has jailed over 12,000 Palestinian children for alleged stone throwing since 2000.
Asked for comment, including a direct question about why not a single Arabic-speaking soldier could be found to translate for the uncle, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit declined to respond to the video itself or anything that is seen in the clip. Instead, the spokesperson sent the following: “On January 31, 2018, a number of Palestinian teens threw stones at IDF soldiers in the Hebron neighborhood of Jabal Juhar. The soldiers detained the suspects for questioning according to procedures, after which they were immediately released.”
Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where a version of this article was originally published in Hebrew.