IDF soldiers apprehending Palestinian boy
IDF soldiers apprehending a Palestinian boy. Photo by Tal Cohen
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Israel Defense Forces soldiers summoned a 7-year-old Palestinian boy to a Shin Bet investigation, without checking whether the order was mistaken, Haaretz has learned.

On June 10, the Za'akik family from the West Bank village of Beit Omar awoke to loud knocks at the door. The father of the family opened, and three Israeli soldiers entered the house; one of them, whom the father thought to be the commander, asked for the boy, M. His father told the officer that M. was seven years old, and showed him his identification, stating the boy's date of birth as September 17, 2002.

The mother noticed that the officer laughed upon seeing the document, but he delivered the summons nonetheless. The mother understood from him that the 7-year-old must attend a meeting with "Captain Tamir" of the Shin Bet security services at the offices of the Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories (COGAT ), in the settlement bloc of Gush Etzion the next morning. The family decided not to send the child to the Shin Bet office, but because they feared the soldiers might return and arrest the boy, they consulted the organization Defense for Children International.

The summons form, though printed in Arabic and Hebrew, was filled out in Hebrew only. The family therefore had no way of knowing that the name on the summons wasn't actually that of their son, but that of a person with the same first name but from the family of Za'arir.

Speaking to Haaretz, the father said there is no Za'arir family in Beit Omar.

The summons customarily bears a four-part name (first name, name of the father, name of the grandfather, and family name ). Only the first name in this case was in fact the same as that of the child, but the IDF still failed to notice the triple mistake of delivering the summons to a 7-year-old, bearing the wrong name and at the wrong address.

The Shin Bet spokesperson's office told Haaretz the security service does not summon children to be interrogated and this case was obviously a mistake. The summons was meant for someone else in the village with a similar name, the Shin Bet spokesman said, "and the force made a mistake in the address. We apologize for the distress caused to the child as a result."

Defense for Children said in response that they welcomed the apology, but questioned whether it was issued to the family directly or only through the media.

The IDF spokesman said that there had been confusion between two families with similar names who live nearby to each other, and that the mix up was an innocent mistake.