Israeli General: IDF Erred in Detaining 5-year-old Palestinian Boy

A week after the incident Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon clarifies protocol concerning detention of minors in the West Bank.

The Israeli army made a mistake when soldiers detained a five-year-old Palestinian boy last week in Hebron, the head of the IDF Central Command said on Wednesday.

Video footage recorded last week by Israeli human rights group B'Tselem field researchers show the boy, Wa'adi Maswada, being detained by soldiers in Hebron after he allegedly threw a rock at a settler's car.

The age of legal responsibility in the occupied territories, as in Israel, is 12. IDF officials note, however, that soldiers occasionally face children who throw rocks and firebombs.

"We made a mistake during the event, both in detaining the boy and detaining his father," GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon told commanders during an operational assessment conducted in the command. Alon added that the commanders should clarify to their soldiers what are the limitations when detaining children.

Only on Wednesday, a week after the incident occurred,  the Command responded to the event. At the end of the assessment, division commanders were reminded of the procedures soldiers should follow when detaining children, including those under the age of legal responsibility. They were also instructed to brief the regional brigade commanders and pass the information down the chain of command. 

On Tuesday, the IDF opened an investigation into the incident. Col. Doron Ben Barak, the legal adviser of the IDF in the West Bank, was said to oversee the investigation. The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether the boy's detention was legal and review the appropriate protocol in such cases.  

Tal Cohen