B'Tselem Video Shows Israeli Soldiers Photographing 20 Palestinian Minors in Hebron

According to the human rights NGO, soldiers illegally questioned young children and teens regarding a stone-throwing incident earlier in the day.

A group of Israeli soldiers gathered around 20 Palestinian children and teens in Hebron last week to ask them about a stone-throwing incident and then photographed each one before allowing them to leave.

The incident, which happened in Hebron’s Jaber neighborhood on May 24, was filmed by Suzan Zraqo, a B’Tselem volunteer who lives in the neighborhood. It was posted by B’Tselem on its website and Facebook page Thursday.
In the clip, the soldiers tell the children — seven of whom were under 12, the age of criminal responsibility — to first line up against a wall and then to sit down. The children, who, according to B’Tselem, were chosen at random, were asked about an incident earlier that day in which stones were thrown at a bus. A soldier then photographed each of them with his cellphone before releasing them.
The organization said that as far as could be determined, none of the children were interrogated and it appeared that they were stopped and photographed without actually being suspected of anything. B’Tselem says the purpose of the encounter was to intimidate the children, to deter them from throwing stones in the future and to make it easier for the army to identify them if they should do so.
“Given the soldiers’ conduct in this incident, it appears that their goal was primarily to intimidate the children in order to deter them from throwing stones, and to make it easier for the military to identify them in case they do,” B’Tselem said on its website. “This demonstrates blatant disregard for the military’s duty to protect the rights of minors. The legality of this course of action is doubtful: the military is prohibited from treating civilians — certainly minors, and especially those under the age of criminal liability — as potential criminals and using soldiers to deter them.”
In a statement, the army spokesman’s office said the soldiers “questioned and documented the suspects in the area” after rocks were thrown at an Israeli bus. The statement confirmed that the army uses documentation and other means “to foil the throwing of stones and firebombs at civilians and security forces.”
A military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that in the event of “serious crimes like throwing rocks at civilians that could cause casualties” investigation is necessary even if the suspects are below the age of criminal responsibility.
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Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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