A Palestinian toddler spent four hours outside a Jerusalem police station on Sunday, after his parents had been taken into custody during a security operation to arrest his 16-year-old brother, according to family members.
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The two-and-a-half-year-old boy from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, who was said to be barefoot and wearing pajamas, was later released into the custody of his grandparents.
His older brother was apparently arrested for throwing stones and other offense, while the detention of and his parents appeared to result from their resisting or objecting to the arrest of their son.
Security forces arrived at the family’s home at about 2 A.M. Sunday. on Eight masked police officers were said to have entered the home, asking to see the family’s identification cars and arresting the 16-year-old.
“We didn’t understand what they wanted,” said Tahrir, the mother of the children. “Their entire bodies were covered. We saw only their eyes. They knocked my husband to the ground and banged my 20-year-old son’s head against a door several time.
“Then they pulled the small boy from his bed and threw him on the floor. My daughter, who is 15, tried to take a picture, but ae policeman grabbed her phone and broke it on the floor. They sprayed me with pepper spray.”
Tahrir said that she tried to take the toddler outside but was pursued and knocked to the ground with the boy underneath her. She told Haaretz that lay like that, with her toddler underneath her and a policeman restraining her with his knee, for “maybe 20 minutes.”
The entire family was taken to the Border Police station in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. All were reportedly barefoot and wearing pajamas. With the exception of Tahrir, who was holding the toddler, all were handcuffed, Tahrir’s legs were restrained.
“They put our big son on the floor, like we pray, with his hands tied behind his back, and left him like that for three hours. The baby started to cry because he got pepper spray in his eye. He is also used to our bringing him a bottle of milk at night and he was crying and was saying ‘just give me a little milk,’” the mother recounted.
At about 6 A.M., after four hours in the police station, the toddler was released to his grandfather, who took him home. Tahrir was released after 12 hours and the rest of the family at 5 P.M. The 16-year-old suspect was brought before a judge, who ordered him detained until Wednesday.
“None of them had shoes and the parents were in pajamas,” the grandfather told Haaretz. “Even in the first intifada they would have allowed people to get dressed as they should before taking them,” referring to the first Palestinian uprising that broke out in 1987.
The family filed a complaint about the incident with the Justice Ministry’s police investigation unit on Monday.
The Israel Police said in response that "a force of police and other security operatives on a mission to arrest suspects in Issawiya was attacked by members of the family. The force managed to pacify the attackers and took them into custody for questioning. The mother of the family was also detained. The police agreed to her request that she bring her child to the police facility until the grandfather could pick him up.
"Those suspected of attacking policemen were questioned and released. The police material will be evaluated and, if justified charges will be filed against them.
"The police work intensively, day and night, for the security of the public and arrest those who threaten public safety. Attacks on police who are carrying out their duty are unacceptable and the police will act to bring the perpetrators to justice."