Israel using strong arm tactics against young Palestinian stone-throwers
By Nir Hasson, Haaretz Correspondent
Tags: Israel Border Police
Several children in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan were arrested and taken from their homes in handcuffs in the middle of the night over the past few months, as part of a police crackdown on suspected stone-throwers, several teenage residents told B'Tselem and Haaretz.
Haaretz and B'Tselem, the Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, collected testimonies from several teens that suggest the police are treating them violently and violating their rights.
"They told me to get down on my knees and slapped and kicked me, one from behind and one from the front," a 15-year-old told B'Tselem.
A large Border Police force has been raiding Palestinian homes at night, targeting mostly children aged 12 to 15.
Most of the children and teenagers living near near the two controversial residential buildings inhabited by Jewish settlers in Silwan - Beit Yonatan and Beit Hadvash - have been arrested at least once.
The police and Border Police activity follows complaints by the Jewish residents of the two buildings and by the guards hired by the Housing Ministry to protect them.
They say there has been an increase in children throwing stones at their houses and cars.
"The interrogator kept asking me the same question for an hour and every time I denied it, he swore. He swore at my mother and sister. He slapped me and wouldn't let me go to the toilet or have a drink of water," a 14-year-old told B'Tselem.
Another child said he was seated facing the wall and was beaten every time he turned his head.
Parents allegedly mistreated
Parents who try to argue or block their children's arrest are treated harshly or attacked, said Jaballah Rajabi, many of whose family members have been arrested.
"I tried to talk to them and they hit me, sprayed me with gas. Fifty of them come for every child. This isn't police, it's a mafia," he said.
"These incidents constitute a most severe breach of minors' human rights," attorney Yael Stein of B'Tselem wrote to Jerusalem District Commander Aharon Franco.
"A military-like crackdown in the middle of the night to interrogate 12- to 14-year-old children on suspicions of throwing stones runs contrary to all reason, and cannot be justified. It's hard to imagine the security forces taking such measures against Jewish minors," she wrote, accusing police of breaking the law governing treatment of youth.
The Jerusalem Police denied using violent measures and said the arrests and interrogations were carried out lawfully.
"Following increasing incidents of stone-throwing at cars, Border Police and Jewish houses in the Silwan area, causing damage to people and property, Arab minors suspected of throwing stones were arrested," a police spokesman said.
"Some of the minors had their remands extended by the court, and others were released on certain conditions. All the suspects against whom we have evidence will be brought to trial," he said.
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