Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Israeli army 'illegally detain' five-year-old Palestinian boy

The Israeli army has been accused of illegally detaining a five-year-old Palestinian boy for throwing stones in the West Bank town of Hebron after video footage of his apparent arrest emerged.

The video, shot by Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, shows the Palestinian child crying and in visible distress as he is detained in an Israeli army truck.

The Israeli army accused the Wadi Maswadeh of throwing stones at soldiers on a street in Hebron, West Bank.

The boy was then driven back to his father's house, before they were both allegedly taken to an army base. The man can be seen blindfolded and bound in the video footage.

The pair were then reportedly questioned by Palestinian police.

The army argued that the child was "posing a threat" by throwing stones at the army vehicle.

The father was not formally arrested or charged.

According to B'Tselem, the boy's father Karam Maswadeh said officers threatened to arrest both of them if he did not allow them to take the boy. "A soldier standing next to the officer showed me a stone and claimed that my son had thrown it, and that it had hit the car of a settler who was driving north, near 'Abed checkpoint", he explained.

"I tried to persuade the officer not to take Wadi' to the DCO, but he said that if I didn't bring him, I'd be arrested. […] I went inside the house and got Wadi', who was hiding there. He was crying."

B'Tselem Director Jessica Montell said: “The footage clearly shows that this was not a mistake made by an individual soldier, but rather conduct that was considered reasonable by all the military personnel involved,”in an open letter to the military's legal advisor.

“It is particularly troubling that none of them apparently thought any part of the incident was problematic: Not the fact that they scared a five-year-old boy out of his wits, nor threatening him and his parents to 'hand him over', nor threatening to arrest the father on no legal grounds, nor handcuffing and blindfolding the father in front of his son," she added.

The age of criminal responsibility is 12 in the West Bank military judicial system.

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