Despite being below the age of criminal responsibility, 5-year-old Wadi’ Maswadeh was detained for two hours by Israeli soldiers July 9th near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron after he allegedly threw a stone at a settler’s car.
The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem reported that when local residents tried to intervene, the Israeli soldiers put the crying child and another local resident into a military jeep and drove them to the boy’s home.
When the boy’s father, Karam, came home, the Israeli soldiers informed him that they were arresting his son and handing him over to the Palestinian police, and they threatened the father with arrest if he did not comply.
Karam and Wadi’ were then detained for half an hour at the local Israeli military base, where the father was blindfolded and handcuffed. The father and son were then taken to the Policeman’s checkpoint, where they were detained for a further half hour. Eventually, Karam’s blindfold and handcuffs were removed, and he and Wadi’ were transferred to the Palestinian police and eventually released.
The age of criminal responsibiltiy in the West Bank and Israel is 12, and, according to B’Tselem, this means that “the security forces are not allowed to arrest or detain children under that age, even when they are suspected of having committed criminal offenses, and the authorities must deal with the law breaking in other ways”.
The director of B’Tselem, Jessica Montell, described the detainment of 5-year-old Wadi’ Maswadeh and his father as “particularly troubling”, and noted that this procedure by which Israeli soldiers detain Palestinian minors suspected of throwing stones “does not, and cannot, have any legal grounds when the minor is below the age of criminal responsibility”.