On 16 December the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) chased Mohannad, an eight-year-old boy. Mohannad lives in the old city of Hebron/al-Khalil, and after school, he goes with his friends to an association next door that organizes fun activities for the children of the old city.
That Thursday, he was out with his friends when the Israeli soldiers started chasing other kids in the old city, claiming they were throwing rocks at the military base. “I was terrified, so I started to run and hide in a shop, and they followed me. I yelled, ‘It’s not me, I swear!’” recounted Mohannad.
“They didn’t believe me. Six soldiers were holding me, and one of them grabbed my neck as they walked with me.” While they pulled him down the street, his mother saw him from the window and ran into the street to stop the soldiers, grabbing Mohannad tightly. In a brutal conversation that continued for an hour, the neighbours tried to talk to the IOF, and some of them were attacked and brutally beaten by the Israeli soldiers.
“One of the soldiers was pointing his gun at Mohannad’s back and the other at his head while he was clutching my arms. I just wanted to protect my son, I didn’t want them to hurt my son, me, or any of the neighbours,” his mother said. “Then the soldier gave us the phone, and an officer who speaks Arabic tried to talk to Mohannad but he was shaking so they handed me the phone. The soldier on the phone claimed that they have photos of Mohannad throwing stones, and threatened that if he did it again he would go to jail.”
“Mohannad wasn’t able to walk because his legs were shaking so severely. I took him to our neighbours who read Quran verses over him to calm him down a bit,” continued Mohannad’s mother. “Mohannad is my cheerful child, I feel something has broken inside him! Now he won’t go to school alone, and he doesn’t play with the kids in the neighbourhood.”
Mohannad was always telling his mother that he wanted to be famous. After the incident, a lot of people started calling them to check on him and hear his story. He became famous, but he didn’t want it to be that way! Mohannad will start going to therapy soon to heal from the trauma that remains, so he can enjoy his life like before. However, as long as the occupation continues, safety is not easy to achieve.
There are thousands of children like Mohannad, but we were able to hear his story and make his voice heard. That is our resolution for the new year and every year, to raise our voices together for liberation.