‘Beaten’ Palestinian Boy in Viral Photo Charged

Al-Junaidi, 16, was arrested in Hebron by all these Israeli forces and his arrest went viral. (Photo: via Twitter)

By Farah Najjar

A 16-year-old Palestinian boy, shown in a photo that has been roundly condemned as symbolizing the Israeli army’s use of excessive force, has been charged with throwing stones at a group of armed Israeli soldiers.

An image of Fawzi al-Junaidi, blindfolded and surrounded by more than 20 Israeli occupation forces, was widely denounced as it was shared on social media earlier this week.

The scene pictures al-Junaidi looking disoriented, wearing a grey shirt and ripped jeans as dozens of soldiers crowd around him carrying guns and wearing protective gear, including helmets and knee pads.

The teenager, who denies throwing stones, was arrested on Thursday amid ongoing protests across the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip over a US decision on December 6 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In the six days after the US announcement, at least 16 other Palestinians were arrested for protesting. At least four have been killed in the violence since the US declaration, and more than 700 injured.

Al-Junaidi also denies accusations of “participating in protests”.

“He said he was fearful and was running away when tear gas canisters were being thrown,” his lawyer, Farah Bayadsi, told Al- Jazeera. “Fawzi said he was beaten with a rifle and he showed up with bruises all over his neck, chest and back.”

The child faced an Israeli military court on Wednesday, following an initial hearing on Monday. He was charged with throwing stones, but the decision on his sentencing or release was adjourned until December 18.

“The police had called for an extension on Fawzi’s arrest during the initial hearing,” said Bayadsi, who works under the Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP).

“The prosecutor demanded a seven-day extension to the arrest so that they can prepare a list of indictments, but we refused,” she said.

According to Bayadsi, the judge was stunned at the excessive force that al-Junaidi was subjected to – most apparent in the manner in which he was transferred to prison.

“The prosecutors didn’t even say whether the soldiers would be investigated for using excessive force. The whole case so far has been handled with neglect.”

Though unlikely, Bayadsi said the defense team would try to secure al-Junaidi’s release while his case is ongoing.

“It would be easier to speak with him [and] other witnesses, and to gather more evidence,” she said.

(Al-Jazeera, Social Media)

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