IDF Investigating Soldiers' Detention of 5-year-old Palestinian Boy

Probe was prompted by B'Tselem, which videotaped the July 9 incident.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Israel Defense Forces has opened an investigation into the detention of a 5-year-old Palestinian boy last week by soldiers, following a demand by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

Col. Doron Ben Barak, the legal advisor of the IDF in the West Bank, will oversee the investigation. Ben Barak's office has yet to issue an official statement about the incident.

Video footage recorded by B'Tselem field researchers from July show the boy, Wadi’ Maswada, being detained by soldiers in Hebron after he allegedly threw a rock at an Israeli car.

One clip shows a group of Givati Brigade soldiers seizing Maswada and asking for his father's whereabout. Soldiers are later filmed arguing with local residents who try to stop them from detaining the boy.

“He’s a boy, so? But he throws …” a soldier says, in English, to the residents. A few minutes later a Palestinian teen takes Maswada by the hand and takes him aside, as the boy cries. Six soldiers surround the pair, and an officer then leads Maswada to an army Jeep. The boy, upset, jumps up and down, still wailing. An older man arrives and the two get into the Jeep. The soldiers bring the boy to his home and wait for his father to return from work.

When the father, Karam Maswada, comes home, he and his son are taken first to an IDF base and then to a police checkpoint, where they wait for an officer from the Hebron District Coordination and Liaison Administration. All this time, the father is handcuffed and blindfolded. After a few minutes of questioning father and son are handed over to the Palestinian police for further questioning. They are released after being questioned briefly. Wadi’ Maswada, who will be six in three months, was detained for a total of two hours.

The purpose of Ben Barak's investigation is to determine whether the boy's detention was legal and review the appropriate protocol in such cases. The age of legal responsibility in the territories, as in Israel, is 12. IDF officials note, however, that soldiers face children who throw rocks and Molotov cocktails.

In March, IDF soldiers detained 27 minors for throwing rocks. At the time, Maj. Assaf Harel, who is head of human rights in Ben Barak's office, confirmed the detentions and said the suspects were taken to the police station at Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs in order to establish each one's identity and to take statements from them.

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