Israeli Border Police seize 6-year-old in Hebron, drag him to a checkpoint, and hold him for an hour
The policemen took me into Abu a-Rish Checkpoint (the Pharmacy Checkpoint) and kept me shut in a room there for about an hour. I cried and the soldiers cursed me. Then they put me into a white car. I heard the other boy who was arrested with me asking a woman soldier where they were taking us, and she answered, ‘To prison.’
The above description was given by Zeid Taha, 6, to B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bri on 27 November 2018, after he was detained by Border Police officers at a checkpoint in the center of Hebron for about one hour.
On Sunday, 25 November 2018, at about 2:00 P.M., three children went out to play in a-Zahraa Park in the center of Hebron. They were Qusai a-Rajabi, 11, and his nephews Usayed Taha, 10, and Zeid Taha, 6. The park is situated approximately 300 meters south of the Pharmacy Checkpoint. Approximately two hours later, at about 4:00 P.M., Qusai and Usayed left the park. Palestinian youths in the area were throwing stones at Israeli security forces, who responded with teargas and stun grenades.
A few minutes later, a soldier grasping 15-year-old ‘Abd a-Rahman Abu Daoud by the neck and arm and taking him in the direction of the Pharmacy Checkpoint was captured on video. At the beginning of the footage, a female soldier is seen shoving Abu Daoud, who was already firmly in the soldier’s grip. A few minutes later, two Border Police officers were documented gripping 6-year-old Zeid Taha by both arms and taking him to the checkpoint. The two boys were held at the checkpoint for about an hour. The security forces then transferred Abu Daoud to the police station in Kiryat Arba and then on to Ofer Prison. He was kept in custody as a detainee until 2 December 2018, when he was sentenced to three months’ in prison and a fine of NIS 500. He was sentenced by under the military court system, which does not afford any protections to minors and systematically violates their rights.
As for Taha, the officers drove him from the Pharmacy Checkpoint in another vehicle and took him to a checkpoint whose name he does not know. They then moved him again, this time to Bab a-Zawiya Checkpoint, where he was handed over to the Palestinian police.
Taha related the following in his testimony:
I was driven to another checkpoint where they put me in a room where a soldier was sitting on a chair. He opened his computer and showed me photographs of some children. He looked really carefully at my face and at the computer, as if he was trying to find my picture among the photos of the children on the computer. But he didn’t find me there. Then they took me in another car to a road where there was another checkpoint. I don’t know where it was.
And then they took me to the Palestinian police post at Bab a-Zawiya, and from there to the Palestinian police station (Family Protection Unit). My mom and uncle picked me up from there.
Taha was detained for about an hour, during which time the officers did not let him call his family to tell them where he was. His mother – Falestin Taha, 26, a married mother of three – heard from her mother-in-law that her son was being held by the security forces.
In testimony taken by B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bri on 27 November 2018, she said:
I couldn’t have imagined that the military would arrest such a young boy. I was shocked and terribly worried. I kept imagining Taha all alone with armed Israeli soldiers. I got my brother and we immediately left home. On the way, my mother-in-law telephoned me again. She had learned that Taha had been transferred to the (Palestinian) Police Family Protection Unit. That calmed down me and my brother and we went there straight away.
We got there at about 5:00 P.M. As soon as I went inside I saw Zeid. He hugged me and started crying. I started crying too. I hugged him and tried to calm him down. I said that he’s got me with him now and that everything was okay. Then I signed a document that he had been handed over to me and we all went home. Zeid is still very scared and anxious. He’s not ready to be apart from me even for a moment. He isn’t even willing to sleep in his own bed. He sleeps holding on to me.
This is not the first time that Israeli security forces have illegally detained a child below the age of criminal responsibility. B’Tselem has already documented several such incidents before. In those cases, the security forces explained their conduct by the absurd argument that they were “merely” detaining the children and transferring them to the Palestinian authorities. It is inconceivable that armed police officers hold a young child, all alone, for any period of time and without even informing his parents. The fact that Israeli authorities believe that this conduct is acceptable speaks volumes as to the moral blindness afflicting them.
תיעוד וידיאו: אום איאד שעאבני, מתנדבת בצלם בחברון