The Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem has released a video purportedly showing Israel Defense Force soldiers taking a Palestinian boy of about eight from house to house in the West Bank town of Hebron. The organization says the soldiers led the boy from house to house in an effort to get him to identify children who had thrown stones at Israelis.
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The video, which was filmed by a number of volunteers for B'Tselem on Sunday, shows a group of soldiers taking custody of the boy, Sufian Abu Hita, and then shows him from various vantage points. In the video, the boy appears to be frightened and uncertain what the soldiers want of him.
The soldiers in the video were from the Golani brigade and had only recently been deployed in Hebron, a predominantly Palestinian city with a small Jewish population. At least a dozen soldiers appear in the video, three of them officers. In one clip, an officer with the rank of 1st lieutenant is seen calling on an older Palestinian to help translate their instructions to the boy.
In the video, which was filmed with a cell phone, the boy in seen being led by the soldiers, with two of them holding him by his hands. He is also seen on the roof of a house being led by a soldier in a search of several portions of the roof.
In a clip that appears to have been filmed by someone else, another soldier is holding the boy by his shirt, as the officer holds the boy's hand, leading him out of the house. A group of Palestinian women then approach the scene and take him by the hand, away from the soldiers as the women shout at the soldiers.
A B'selem news release quotes the boy's mother, Amana, as saying that she approached one of the soldiers and asked that they return her son, but they had refused. "[The soldier] said: 'If you want to take him, you need to convince him to provide us the names of the children who have been throwing stones.' I tried to explain to the soldier that we don't live in the neighborhood, and that we had only come to visit my parents, and that the boy doesn't know the names of the children in the neighborhood," she said.
"The soldier ignored what I had said," the mother said, adding that the boy was barefoot as the soldiers took him from house to house.
The IDF is currently investigating the soldiers' conduct. The army said it was unaware of the incident before B'Tselem released the video. Even if the soldiers suspected Sufian of wrongdoing, at eight years old, he would be younger than the age of criminal responsibility, which is 12. Children younger than 12 cannot be punished for criminal acts.
In response the IDF said: "From an initial inquiry, it appears that last Sunday, an observation point spotted a firebomb being thrown at [adjoining Jewish settlement] of Kiryat Arba. An IDF force that was dispatched to the site caught a suspect and led him to his parent's house because he is a minor. It should be noted that from an initial inquiry, the force did not demand that the minor direct them to additional suspects."