In 2007, Israeli soldiers arrested 13-year-old Majid Jaradat for throwing stones during a demonstration in Sair village, near Hebron. Majed spoke about the violence of his arrest and detention in a video produced by Israeli rights organization Bâtselem.But this was no isolated case. Many more such incidents are reported in a new publication from the Israeli veteransâ organization Breaking The Silence with shocking admissions from Israeli soldiers about the maltreatment of Palestinian children under Israeli occupation. The disturbing violations of childrenâs rights by soldiers took place in the occupied Palestinian territories between 2005-2011.
My previous post Choose a kid at random, âaim at his bodyâ: Israeli soldiers confess their violence, addressed the abuse of Palestinian children as human shields, the use of handcuffs for torture, and the lethal use of rubber bullets. This second post summarizes more examples of the abuse of children by Israeli forces from the Breaking The Silence report, many of which â including admissions of indiscriminate shooting and wilful shooting to kill children who pose no danger â amount to war crimes.
Abuse during arrest and detention
Beating a crying child with a Motorola
After a stone-throwing incident, soldiers were ordered to stop a 15-year-old child. âHis name was Daoud. We stopped our vehicle, ran out, he was in total shock. We took him to Gross Post, to the Jewish side, and he began to cry, scream, he was just streaming sweat and tears. We had nothing to do with him, suddenly you end up with a crying kid. A second ago he was throwing roof tiles at the army post, and youâre dying to beat him to a pulp, and youâre alerted out there in that heat. You want to kill him but heâs crying. We didnât know what to do, so we put him under watch.
Once someone who was with him went wild, did something to him and left. At some point when I was with him I tried to calm him down because he was tied, blindfolded, and crying, tears and sweat streaming out all over. I began to shake him, then the deputy company commander tried. He grabbed him and began to shake him: âShut up, shut up, enough, cut it out!â Then we took him to the police station at Givat Haâavot and he continued to cry because the policemen didnât take him in for interrogation. He was so annoying, this was insane. In all that mess, while he was crawling on the floor, the communications man took out his Motorola, his two-way radio and boom! â banged him on the headâ (Hebron 2010).
Soldiers throwing stones at captive children
A soldier saw the abuse of detainees âso many times.â She remembers one of the first times she came to the commanderâs office and âsaw some five detainees, incredibly scary, and a few soldiersâŠâ It was scary, because the detainees were children, around 14-15 years old. âCombatants came at those kids, threw stones at them, swore at them. And the kids sat as helpless as a human being can be, their hands shackled in those tight plastic bands that donât let them move, blindfolded, total helplessnessâ (Nablus 2005-2006).
A child was arrested: âWhile we took him out of the jeep I remember hearing him shitting his pantsâŠ I also remember some other time when someone pissed in his pants. I just became so indifferent to it, I couldnât care less. He shat in his pants, I heard him do it, I witnessed his embarrassment. I also smelled it. But I didnât careâ (Hebron 2010).
A soldier confessed he detained adolescents, âYou shackle them, blindfold them, put them at the army postâs sentry booth and then take them back.. Once we arrested someone and while driving, in the APC [Armored Personnel Carrier], someone played âkazabubu shlaflafâ with him. When I say, âkazabubu,â you have to say your name, and when I say, âshlaflaf,â you must say your family name. So he began to play the game with him without explaining the rules. He said: âKazabubu,â and hit him on the head. Not too tough, but it was simply humiliating. Less painful than humiliating. He would hit him and some would yell the answer at him, what he was supposed to say: âSay your name!â and the like: âWhatâs your name!?â Shouts like that. Such a game can take about seven minutesâŠâ (Nablus 2009).
âOkay to shoot to kill. Regardless of their ageâ
We were instructed to take down anyone visibly armed in a riot or anyone with a Molotov cocktail even if it hasnât been thrown yet. We should fire in his direction. If someone heats things up you can shoot either very close to him or to his legs or something like that. There is no one who tells you who is heating things up. All those fanatics see all the Palestinians there as heating things up.
Once we were with six guys inside an armored jeep in a real serious riot. The guy next to me fired at the ground to make the crowd run away, and then he goes: âOops!â I look and see a kid bleeding on the ground and the crowd indeed was gone. He shot from inside the vehicle. He also said to us, like: âDonât tell.â When Molotov cocktails are thrown at us we have the okay to shoot to kill. Regardless of their age (Nablus 2005-2006).
An ambush for kids
Once in a while one of our vehicles would be hit by Molotov cocktails on Mount Eval, in Nablus. After a few such incidents we laid an ambush. If a kid was about to throw a Molotov cocktail, youâre allowed to shoot him. âShoot to kill?â, asks the interviewer. âAbsolutely, thatâs procedure, replies the soldier. âThe moment you even see the lighter spark.â He explains that the soldiers try to provoke the kids by driving a jeep up and down.
The jeep goes by and suddenly they see a group of kids coming, âI think they were holding some bag.â A soldier aims his M-24 [marksmenâs rifle] at one of the kids. He asks the officer if itâs okay to release the safety catch. The officer tells him itâs fine. â[S]uddenly â boom! â the marksmanâs rifle let off a shot. We see the kids scatter in all directions, running like hell, and we have no idea what happened because we know he was aiming and we donât know whether the kid was hit or not.â
Interviewer: You said they were holding a bag. Did they aim at the one holding the bag?
Soldier: Thatâs a spot that Molotov cocktails are often thrown from.
Interviewer: But a Molotov cocktail is a bottle, not a bag.
Soldier: But you always have to assume that thatâs whatâs in the bag. You get it?
Interviewer: What ages were these kids?
Soldier: Little â 13, 14, 15.
Molotov cocktails were regularly thrown from Jilazoun refugee camp in the direction of Beit El settlement. None of them ever really reach Beit El. âIt was always kids throwing, and for a while we would lay ambushes there, and once in a while a Molotov cocktail would be hurled at one of our forces, and theyâd be chased. One of my friends was sitting at Beit El in a sort-of marksmanâs post, and a kid came out and threw a Molotov cocktail, and he shot him. The moment they light up the bottle, theyâre free game.
Interviewer: Did the kid mean to throw it at the force?
Soldier: No, he was the furthest away, he wasnât endangering my friend who shot him with his marksmanâs rifle.
Interviewer: And he killed him?
Interviewer: How old was the kid?
Soldier: Young, 16 years old. (Ramallah 2008)
â We had lots of Xâs [Note: Marked on the side of a soldierâs rifle, indicating the number of people heâs killed] at that time. The battalion loved it. There was an ambush around there where a kid coming up with a Molotov cocktail had his leg blown off. They laid ambush exactly at that spot. Kids came, the soldiers were there, the kids lit a bottle, and they were shot in the leg (Ramallah 2008).
No shame to capture violations on camera
A soldier tells about two other soldiers who there were excited by their first action in Hebron in which a Palestinian boy was detained for throwing stones. The boy denied he had done so. The two excitted soldiers âhad their pictures taken with him.â In response to the question if the boy objected, the soldier said, âNo, he was blindfolded, he didnât knowâ (Hebron 2007-2008).
During a training, a driver showed me pictures of two kids they had caught, shackled, and kicked. âHe showed me the video he took on his cell phone. Sitting shackled, and some soldier walks by and â pow â kicks them in the back or something (Jalame, Jenin 2008).
There was this saying: âWe have a detainee.â [The soldier talks about child detainees]. Soldiers wanted to have their picture taken. Usually they were not allowed to do so, but sometimes they did. It was done, but it wasnât actually permitted. As though it didnât happen, but everyone did it. People would video tape themselves, they made clips. âSay âAdvanced Companyâ is the bomb, come on, say it!â Finally, some action (Gaza Strip 2008).