Israeli Army Officer Handcuffs Two Palestinian Children Together

The Israeli officer cuffed the two sisters, aged 11 and 12, after reports that a knife was thrown in West Bank playground

An Israeli soldier monitors the border with Lebanon, last month.
An Israeli soldier monitors the border with Lebanon, last month.Credit: JALAA MAREY - AFP

An Israeli army officer handcuffed two Palestinian children together in Hebron on Wednesday, after he suspected that one of them might be wielding a knife.

The two sisters, aged 11 and 12, were cuffed after soldiers arrived to question them based on a report that a knife had been thrown at the playground at Beit Hadassah, in the heart of the West Bank city's Jewish settlement.

Shadi Sadr, the girls’ father, said his daughter, Salwa, was detained for half an hour. The military said it would review the soldiers’ conduct.

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According to Sadr, Salwa was playing outside with other children when a settler watching them from a balcony called the police. He explained that the soldiers continued to question Salwa after she responded that she was not holding a knife, and insisted that she was concealing something.

This was despite her Sadr telling soldiers that they could check the accusation on security cameras in the area. The officer then decided to use the plastic handcuffs to bind Salwa to her 11-year-old sister, Zaynab. A recording of the incident shows the two girls were cuffed for a few seconds.

“The goal of all this behavior is strictly to oppress and choke us,” Shadi said. “Even children playing was turned into something threatening. Even if they had a knife, who would they even endanger?”

He said the family home is “entirely surrounded by fences, and we’re virtually living in the atmosphere of a prison.” Since the incident, he said, Salwa has been afraid to leave the house. “How do you explain to a girl that playing in the street next to her house can lead to soldiers showing up with weapons and handcuffs?" he asked. “Why do you even have to detain such a young girl? The soldiers are mighty when they’re facing a child.”

The Israel military's spokesman said following the incident: “In cases of this kind, IDF soldiers are expected to act with maximum sensitivity while sticking to the operational mission.”

The military said that the soldiers arrived at the scene after they received a report of a knife being thrown at a playground where children were playing, and that eyewitnesses reported that a young girl had thrown the knife.

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