“Recognizing that, in all countries in the world, there are children living in exceptionally difficult conditions, and that such children need special consideration…”
from the Preamble of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
In the past two weeks, CPT has witnessed a significant increase in the targeting of Palestinian children by Israeli occupying forces. From having their bicycles confiscated to being chased down in the street, these children are being stripped of their fundamental right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities.
These are the stories that CPT has documented in Hebron’s Old City, but there are often times more girls and boys that remain invisible.
Sunday 19 July – A six-year-old boy was swarmed by the heavily-armed Israeli military, forced to empty his pockets, and aggressively interrogated.
Monday 20 July – 14-year-old Anan was detained, allegedly assaulted by the Israeli military, and taken to the police station. The Israeli military continued to raid the streets of Hebron, detaining kids outside an Internet cafe at 9:30 pm.
Thursday 23 July – Israeli soldiers invaded a Palestinian house in the Old City of Hebron while chasing a Palestinian boy. The soldiers claimed that the boy ran away from them at their sight, which made him “suspicious”.
Friday 24 July – Four boys were playing in the street when six Israeli soldiers began charging towards them and yelling. The boys ran home, and the Israeli soldiers followed them into their house. After five minutes of questioning the boys, the soldiers left.
Saturday 25 July – Wasim, 10 years old, was riding his bike with his friends behind a patrol of soldiers. The soldiers told him to go ahead and pass them on his bike, but then blocked CPTers from following. Wasim told CPT that the soldiers slapped his face as they took him towards the gate. Palestinians in the community and CPTers advocated for the release of the boy, but the Israeli soldiers pushed back and took him. Another witness saw the soldiers kicking Wasim as he was being taken away. Wasim was released 10 minutes later.
Tuesday 28 July – Israeli Border Police stopped a Palestinian child who was trying to pass through the military turnstile near the Ibrahimi Mosque. The Border Police opened the gate for him, helped him move his bike, and then looked him in the eye and said, “I confiscated your bike, now leave.” The Border Police then told the child, “You know only walking is allowed here. Next time you will bring a car trying to pass.” After five minutes, another Border Police officer gave the child his bike back and asked him to leave.
International Solidarity Movement (ISM) also reported that a teenage boy was stopped and detained by a group of Israeli soldiers near the Souq in Hebron’s Old City. The reason for his detainment was that he had a small box of children’s “pop pop fireworks”. The boy was detained for thirty minutes and eventually released.
Wednesday 30 July – Moath, 16 years old, was picked off the streets in Hebron by Israeli soldiers who body searched him, zip-tied his hands behind his back, and blindfolded him. CPT asked about the nature of his detention, but no reason was given. Moath was taken into custody for identification and released after an hour. Watch the video here.
“States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities….States Parties shall ensure that no child be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
from Articles 31 and 37 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
It is not only the oppression of children and the violation of human rights, but also the absolute impunity and complete disregard of humanity in which the Israeli military operates that is an outrage. These incidents didn’t happen in a corner or a dark alleyway, but in public spaces. CPT is sometimes able to advocate for the rights of children, but despite the presence of human rights observers, there is still a lack of accountability for Israeli occupying forces. It is up to all of us to share these stories, and shift the prevailing narrative towards one of truth and justice.