AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Mother’s persistence wins five boys’ freedom from Israeli detention

30 May 2012
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Mother’s persistence wins five boys’ freedom from Israeli detention

Five Israeli soldiers detained five children and backhanded at least one of them in Hebron on 28 May.

Two CPTers on evening patrol observed two Israeli soldiers approaching children playing on roofs overlooking a small park in Al-Khalil’s Old City at 9:17 p.m. They arrived in time to see the soldiers, of the Kfir Brigade, detain two young boys. When the CPTers asked the soldiers what the boys had done to deserve detention they accused the boys of throwing rocks. One said, “You don’t understand. These children can kill us.”

A CPT delegation at this point joined the two CPTers in the park. They all followed the soldiers, who detained another three young boys as they were leaving the park. They marched all five to the checkpoint building that leads to Shuhada Street. The soldiers tried to prevent the CPTers from seeing through the window but they could not cover the view completely. A soldier twice backhanded one of the boys across the head. The five soldiers then performed a military maneuver right in front of the children, cocking their guns and acting as though they were going to fire into the air.

They then took the children from the building onto Shuhada Street. The CPTers and the mother of two of the boys, with her younger son, ran through the Ladder Lady’s house, but when they reached Shuhada Street, the children and soldiers had left. CPTers asked the soldier still at the checkpoint where the children had been taken. He replied, “to the police station,” but denied knowing which one.

A woman in one of the houses said soldiers had taken the children along Shuhada Street to checkpoint 56. The CPTers and the mother with her toddler son walked along the street and came to another checkpoint. When the soldier asked the mother what she was doing on Shuhada Street, she explained that she was looking for her sons, and the soldier let her through. Further along the street a second soldier stopped the mother and CPT and asked CPT, “Who gave you the authority to bring a Palestinian woman along Shuhada Street?” A CPTer replied that the soldier at the last checkpoint had. The second soldier called and said his colleague denied this and that he should arrest the woman. The CPTers insisted it was the truth but agreed that the mother would return down the street with two CPTers.

As she was leaving, the soldier called the woman back and said he would escort her to checkpoint 56. At checkpoint 56, soldiers were still holding the five children, who were seated against the wall, guarded by eleven border police. The mother begged the border police to release her sons. At 10:25 p.m. the children were released to Palestinian Authority police, who took them through the checkpoint and, in accordance with Israeli protocol, to the police station, where they were released half an hour later.

The Kfir Brigade has a history of unabashed abuse and loyalty to settlers over military command structures