Israeli soldiers filmed waking Palestinian children in middle of the night for questioning

The IDF demanded entry to homes in Hebron without explanation

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The Independent Online

Footage showing terrified Palestinian children being woken up by armed Israeli soldiers for questioning in the dead of the night has emerged.

Boys as young as nine are shown being questioned about stone throwing and photographed by soldiers who dismiss their parents’ protests.

A partially sighted teenage boy was among those interrogated on 23 February, according to a human rights group.

Volunteers from B’Tselem, also known as the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, happened to be living in the flat block visited by troops in Hebron.

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Parents were ordered to wake their children by heavily armed soldiers in overnight raids

The group said soldiers from the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) entered apartments belonging to 10 families in two buildings in the Wadi a-Nasarah neighbourhood of the West Bank city.

They arrived at around 1.30am and demanded entry to flats while holding semi-automatic weapons and wearing full combat gear, including black balaclavas.

Parents were ordered to wake their children and bring them out of their bedrooms for questioning, although B'Tselem said that young boys and girls were allowed to stay asleep in some cases where objections were raised.

That was not the case in the search of Sameeh and Mai Da'ana's home, which was filmed at around 3.20am.

“How come you’re here at such an hour?” the father is seen asking as soldiers demand to see his children.

“Because stones are thrown at us all day long,” an officer replies. “I don’t need to explain my schedule to you. Go on, go and wake your kids.”

He follows the father into a bedroom, where his nine-year-old son is sleeping, and orders him to get up.

“Wake up, don’t be scared, I’m with you,” the father tells his terrified son as the other soldiers begin searching his flat.

He is then ordered to bring out his other son, a 16-year-old boy who is partially sighted and has to be led to the sofa.

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Parents tried to console their distressed children

“Do you sometimes throw stones here? Never? You’re sure?” a soldier asks the youngest boy who repeatedly denies it and shakes his head.

The soldiers remain standing throughout the interrogation, holding their rifles but directed not to point the barrels at children.

After several minutes of questioning, the leading officer announces “everything’s fine, good night” and leads the troops out.

Around 10 minutes later, soldiers were filmed searching Nayef and Dalal Da’na’s home.

Footage showed them barging in demanding ID and shouting “get all the kids in the house here”.

As the children’s mother protests, the soldiers order her to be quiet as they begin searching the house, combing through wardrobes and drawers going from room to room.

“Don't be scared, don’t be scared. It’s the army,” the father, Nayef, tells three sons and a daughter, aged between seven and 13, as he wakes them up.

“Try to understand what the soldiers want.”

The boys are seen being taken into the living room, questioned and photographed on iPhones as soldiers record their names.

One of the boys is quizzed about an injury on his face, which he said was caused by barbed wire.

Mr Da’na, 53, told B’Tselem his wife had tried to persuade the troops not to disturb them because they would be terrified but was ignored.

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A soldier tells a mother to be quiet as she protests

“My daughter Butul, who is seven, woke up and stood by the door of her room. She was very frightened,” he said.

“My children were really scared, especially Qusai. After the soldiers left our home, Qusai started to cry.”

B’Tselem said that families all said their flats were searched and the names of their children were taken as they were questioned and photographed, without explanation.

“To the best of B'Tselem’s knowledge, no one was arrested during the raid not was anything found in the search,” a spokesperson said.

Mirvat Qafishah, a 37-year-old mother of six, told B’Tselem four masked soldiers ordered them to wake up their six children, aged four to 14, and line them up along the wall in the living room.

“Adnan (her husband) tried to persuade the soldier to leave the children alone because they’re very young and would be terribly frightened to wake up and see the soldiers, but the soldier was adamant,” she said.

“The children were shaking with fear.”

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The soldiers went from flat to flat in Hebron

Hebron, which is divided between Palestinian Authority and Israeli control, is one of the most conflicted cities in the West Bank and the site of numerous battles, bombings and massacres.

The close proximity between Palestinian homes and Israeli settlements has made it into a forest of barbed wire, high walls, restricted roads and checkpoints under armed guard.

The Palestinian Wadi a-Nasarah neighbourhood visited by the soldiers is near the perimeter fence of the Israeli Kiryat Arba settlement.

B’Tselem accused the IDF of having the “sole objective to terrorise and intimidate the parents and their children” to deter stone throwing and make it easier to apprehend them at a later date.

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This road, one of the few shared between Palestinians and Israeli settlers in Hebron, is divided down the middle and soldiers force Palestinians to walk down one side strewn with rubble, while Israelis pass down the paved road

“It is doubtful whether this raid is lawful, and it is not the first of its kind,” a spokesperson said.

“Not only is this policy of security forces entering the homes of Palestinian civilians by night unjust and terrifying.

“It also serves to illustrate how casually and arbitrarily the lives of Palestinians living under occupation are disrupted and their rights violated.

“B’Tselem calls on the military to discontinue this policy without delay.”

The Israeli Embassy has not responded to The Independent’s request for a comment.

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