Jerusalem policemen arrested a Palestinian seven-year-old child, relatives said on Sunday, claiming that the boy was battered by police officers during his arrest.
The boy's parents, residents of the East Jerusalem village of Silwan, said they searched for their son for two hours at several police stations, without the police providing any information as to his whereabouts.
According to family members, the second grader was arrested during play. His father, who noticed policemen arresting his son, attempted to intervene, and in the ensuing scuffle was sprayed in his face with pepper spray and was evacuated to receive medical care.
The boy's aunt was also injured, later treated for what appeared to be wounds related to an anti-demonstration projectile. According to the police account, the boy had been hurling stones and after he had attempted to escape, he was apprehended in a house along with two adults who were also suspected of hurling stones.
Family members searched for the child from the moment of his arrest, with the boy's uncle driving to Jerusalem's Shalem and Russian Compound police stations, in both of which police officers said they did not have any information concerning the boy.
The family's lawyer, Leah Tzemel said that she arrived "at the Russian Compound [police station] and they told me they didn't know anything. So I forced my way in and had a sitting strike. They told me that if I didn't go out I'd be detained myself, and I said that I would be honored to be detained for that."
"I have a seven-year-old granddaughter and he looked younger than that," she added.
Finally, the boy was found by his mother waiting in a Israel Border Police vehicle near Silwan. He arrived at a police station after being held up in the police car for two hours, where he was investigated with his mother present on suspicion he had hurled stones. He was eventually released about four-and-a-half hours after his arrest.
Jerusalem police said in response that "as a result of repeated incidents in which stones were hurled at police officers two suspects were arrested, who forcibly resisted arrest, which necessitated the use of pepper spray."
"A minor of about eight ran to his house, with officers taking both him and his mother to questioning at the minorities' unit. The boy was released at the end of his investigation and was put in the care of social services," the police said.
The police also said that the arrest of children in Silwan was "done according to the law. Any questioning or investigation of minors takes place in the presence of his parents, as regulations stipulate. The police will continue to enforce the law without any discrimination."
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