Teens Rounding Up Illegal Palestinian Workers in Border Police Youth Program

Teenage volunteers with the Border Police have been detaining illegal Palestinian workers in the Modi'in area as part of a government program intended to increase security.

The Public Security Ministry, which funds the City Without Violence program, along with the regional council in the Modi'in area, said yesterday its representatives will be meeting with police and municipal officials shortly to clarify which activities the teens should be trained to do.

The meeting is intended to "map out the desirable types of activities" and clarify the guidelines governing what the volunteers should do, the ministry said in a statement.

According to the regional council, the high school students have caught dozens of Palestinians working in Israel without work permits in the last few weeks. There are 36 teenagers aged 16-18 who take part in the program as members of the Border Police Youth.

"I like catching the Palestinian workers," said Reut, a high school senior from the Modi'in area who takes part in the program. "Generally we look for them because they scare children. The point is to catch them and return them back where they belong."

Eran, another participant, also described detaining Palestinians.

"We went to a construction site and found a few of them there," he recalled of one such incident. "We saw them hiding and we caught them, took their identification cards, sat them down in the vehicle, and called our commander to come check them."

In a presentation prepared for the next Border Police Youth course, due to open in about a month, teenage volunteers are shown wearing Border Police uniforms and holding weapons.

Nir Michaeli, who heads the education department at Tel Aviv's Kibbutzim College, said it was "sad" that the teenagers were being taught militaristic principles rather than being instilled with "a sense of balance that could help them during their upcoming military service."

"Informal education needs to emphasize giving back to society, but in a constructive rather than a militaristic way," he said.

The Border Police defended the practice, saying the teens are "constantly accompanied by and operating alongside Border Police officers."

"The involvement of youth allows them to contribute and to feel like they are doing something for society, while giving them values and guiding them ahead of their integration into significant security service."