Videos have emerged exposing masked IDF soldiers raiding Palestinian homes in the dead of night to interrogate children suspected of throwing stones at the Israeli military. Hundreds of underage are prosecuted each year in the occupied territories.
B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, has posted two videos to the web showing what it claims are masked Israeli soldiers searching Palestinian homes at night in Hebron on February 23 this year.
The soldiers, in full combat gear and with Tavor assault rifles at the ready, order to all kids in the house be brought out, ignoring protests of the parents that the children are fast asleep.
The company officer explains that the soldiers came at such an hour because stones are thrown at Israeli service personnel “all day long.”
The officer tells an indignant Palestinian father that he doesn’t need to “explain his schedule” to him and orders the unit to “use your barrels right on the rooms you haven’t yet checked or opened.”
“Do you sometimes throw stones here?” a nine-year-old boy is asked.
Children on the videos are of varying ages, from eight to 16. The officer orders all children to be photographed when the procedure is over.
“The children were shaking with fear,” Mirvat Qafishah, 37, a mother of six, told B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari about the soldiers’ search of her home.
“My children were really scared,” Nayef Da’na, 53, a father of seven, also told B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari about the armed soldiers’ entry into his home.
It is not out of the ordinary for children to suffer mistreatment from the Israeli military.
IDF soldiers are subduing young suspects on arrest; there is at least one piece of video evidence of Israeli soldiers setting a dog on a Palestinian youth.
Though the military promised a full inquiry into that incident, human rights activist Bill Van Esveld told RT he has no doubt that the incident is going to be dropped.
“The incidents we know of have had no kind of inquiry,” he said.
— コードブルー (@gamu1286) March 19, 2015
The military cannot treat civilians as though they are potential criminals, nor is the military permitted to use its soldiers as a deterrent against civilians, B’Tselem wrote in an article dedicated to the incident, calling the Israel security forces’ policy of entering the homes of Palestinian civilians by night “unjust and terrifying.”
“The Israeli military, unfortunately, has a very poor record for accountability. There is no indication that the night arrests of children, which is a policy that has been going on for years, and that is clearly approved by the higher echelons,” Van Esveld revealed, stressing that the problem is not the soldiers carrying out such orders, but the officials who order this policy to be implemented.
Bill Van Esveld believes that mistreatment of children won’t stop soon. Only “serious international pressure” could force Israel to put an end to unlawful policies of using attack dogs on kids and breaking into homes.
The statistics of mistreatment of youngsters in the West Bank is disturbing.
According to Defense for Children International Palestine, up to 700 youngsters 12-17 years old are prosecuted in Israeli military courts every year, which is about two kids more in custody every day.
The underage of the West Bank are arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli army, police or security agents. The arrested children are tied and blindfolded.
Then they are taken to interrogation centers, some of which exist on the territory of settlements on the occupied territories. They are not given the right to be accompanied by a parent during interrogation. When questioned, the children are rarely informed of their rights.
The interrogation techniques include “intimidation, threats and physical violence with a clear purpose of obtaining a confession.” The documents presenting to children sometimes are in Hebrew, a language not many Palestinian children speak, the organization informed.
It is estimated that over 15 years, around 8,000 children have been detained and prosecuted.
The majority were charged with throwing stones.