Israeli Police Broke 9-year-old Palestinian Boy's Thumb, Relatives Say

Saif Abeid was chased into his yard by police officers sent to East Jerusalem to confront demonstrators throwing rocks

The Israeli barrier running along the East Jerusalem refugee camp of Shoafat (L) as the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiyah is seen on the right, February 15, 2017
RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS

A policeman broke the thumb of a 9-year-old Palestinian boy from East Jerusalem Saturday, relatives said.

In a response, the Israel Police said they were not aware of the incident but confirmed that police officers confronted Palestinians throwing firebombs at passing cars in the neighborhood, Isawiyah, at the time.

The incident occurred when the boy, Saif Abeid, was walking home Saturday evening from his uncle’s home, in a part of Isawiyah from which Palestinians periodically throw rocks at cars on the road between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

The uncle, Murad Abeid, said police officers approached Saif, who became frightened and ran home. The officers followed him into the yard and aggressively demanded to see Saif’s identity card, Murad Abeid said.

“His uncle asked why they were speaking like that to a child, and they began beating him and using pepper spray,” another relative said.

Other relatives said a policeman kicked Saif in the hand, and that he was taken to a hospital and treated for a broken thumb.

Murad Abeid was arrested and released a few hours later on his own recognizance.

Police also clashed with Palestinian demonstrators at the entrance to Isawiyah, near French Hill. Police blocked the entrance, apparently after rocks were thrown, causing a traffic jam as cars waited to enter.

Mohammed Abu Hummus, an Isawiyah neighborhood activist, was arrested after shouting at the policemen. He was released on bail after a judge rejected the police’s request that he remain in custody for five days.

There were also clashes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher Saturday evening. A policewoman suffered minor injuries when a rock was thrown at her, and police set up a checkpoint at the entrance to the neighborhood.

Earlier on Saturday, Jawad Siyam, a well-know activist from East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, was arrested for holding balloons in the colors of the Palestinian flag.

Police said they entered Isawiyah to stop Palestinians who were endangering lives by throwing firebombs at cars on the highway. They detained several suspects for questioning and arrested one who assaulted a policeman, the statement said, but don’t know of any case in which force was used against a minor.

“Nevertheless, if there are claims of this sort, they ought to be investigated by the authorized parties,” the statement added, presumably referring to the Justice Ministry department that investigates police misconduct.