“How Israel takes its revenge on boys who throw stones.”

Note that the boy is handcuffed with plastic binders.

I don’t know how to write about this. Is any of the information in the following surprising, or even genuinely new, to me? No. I’ve been reading and writing and protesting the horrors of the occupation for many, many years now, and I know that this is what a lot of Israeli soldiers do. I know, and when I forget, books like Sami al-Jundi’s Hour of Sunlight or organizations like Breaking the Silence or B’tselem come along to wake me up.

But there is a point at which I put things out of my mind in order to not lose it entirely. I don’t always try to think particularly hard about the abuses. I share and respond to whatever information comes my way, and then I turn away, at least a little.

So: Surprising? New? No. But positively infuriating. Enraging. Stomach-churning. And leading directly to the question: And you wonder why they hate us?

In today’s Independent, by Catrina Stewart:

How Israel takes its revenge on boys who throw stones

The boy, small and frail, is struggling to stay awake. His head lolls to the side, at one point slumping on to his chest. “Lift up your head! Lift it up!” shouts one of his interrogators, slapping him. But the boy by now is past caring, for he has been awake for at least 12 hours since he was separated at gunpoint from his parents at two that morning. “I wish you’d let me go,” the boy whimpers, “just so I can get some sleep.”

During the nearly six-hour video, 14-year-old Palestinian Islam Tamimi, exhausted and scared, is steadily broken to the point where he starts to incriminate men from his village and weave fantastic tales that he believes his tormentors want to hear.

This rarely seen footage seen by The Independent offers a glimpse into an Israeli interrogation, almost a rite of passage that hundreds of Palestinian children accused of throwing stones undergo every year.

Sameer Shilu, 12, was asleep when the soldiers smashed in the front door of his house one night. He and his older brother emerged bleary-eyed from their bedroom to find six masked soldiers in their living room.

Checking the boy’s name on his father’s identity card, the officer looked “shocked” when he saw he had to arrest a boy, says Sameer’s father, Saher. “I said, ‘He’s too young; why do you want him?’ ‘I don’t know,’ he said”. Blindfolded, and his hands tied painfully behind his back with plastic cords, Sameer was bundled into a Jeep, his father calling out to him not to be afraid. “We cried, all of us,” his father says. “I know my sons; they don’t throw stones.”

In the hours before his interrogation, Sameer was kept blindfolded and handcuffed, and prevented from sleeping. Eventually taken for interrogation without a lawyer or parent present, a man accused him of being in a demonstration, and showed him footage of a boy throwing stones, claiming it was him.

“He said, ‘This is you’, and I said it wasn’t me. Then he asked me, ‘Who are they?’ And I said that I didn’t know,” Sameer says. “At one point, the man started shouting at me, and grabbed me by the collar, and said, ‘I’ll throw you out of the window and beat you with a stick if you don’t confess’.”

In most cases, children as young as 12 are hauled from their beds at night, handcuffed and blindfolded, deprived of sleep and food, subjected to lengthy interrogations, then forced to sign a confession in Hebrew, a language few of them read.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem concluded that, “the rights of minors are severely violated, that the law almost completely fails to protect their rights, and that the few rights granted by the law are not implemented”.

Child detention figures

7,000 The estimated number of Palestinian children detained and prosecuted in Israeli military courts since 2000, shows a report by Defence for Children International Palestine (DCIP).

87 The percentage of children subjected to some form of physical violence while in custody. About 91 per cent are also believed to be blindfolded at some point during their detention.

12 The minimum age of criminal responsibility, as stipulated in the Military Order 1651.

62 The percentage of children arrested between 12am and 5am.

The follow-up question being, of course: Hey, Israel – how’s that working for you? Are your civilians safe from 12 year olds yet? Or the angry, embittered, often physically damaged men some of them grow to be?



  1. Heartbreaking.

  2. Aaron Allen

     /  August 27, 2011

    Pal kids holding [or throwing] stones are like wedding celebrants who fire
    their rifles into the air–bad move in a country full of angry enemy soldiers.
    In a new course, taught at all grade levels [K-8], possibly titled ‘Principles
    of Citizenship’ kids cud be shown alternative behaviors that can demonstrate
    their disgust of the enemy–yet not bring gunfire and abuse on themselves…
    Once proven, these techniques cud be practiced by adults also–taught by
    their kids or grandkids?..Aaron Allen…

    • Brilliant creative idea, Aaron. I like it.

      Two concerns only. First is that poor judgment is a hallmark of childhood. You will always have a few picking up rocks. The second is, will Israel feel equally threatened by kids exercising non-violent protest actions? I’m not asking that as a cynical question, I don’t know the answer.. but I do think it needs to be asked.

      • Israel tends to respond to any and all protest with violence. The more Palestinians embrace nonviolence, the better we will all be, but the Israeli military will likely continue to respond as if each of the protesters carries a bomb. It’ll take awhile, and I’m not sure we have awhile.

    • This is a great idea in more peaceful surroundings. I fear it wouldn’t fly when people are still fighting a 63 year old war…

    • Katie

       /  October 31, 2011

      Yeah, or Israel could just be held accountable for their unconscionable actions, and then we wouldn’t have to worry about teaching the victims of abuse, discrimination, displacement, and oppression how not to piss off their abusers and oppressors.

      • I agree with the sentiment, but want to ask that you be watchful about your tone. I’ve spent 25 years fighting this fight, and it’s been my experience that activists yelling at each other is no more effective than politicians yelling.

  3. JMH

     /  August 29, 2011

    Is there a specific term for terrorism by the many against one?

    • Hi mom!

      No, there isn’t, and in strictly dictionary terms, “terrorism” can only be carried out by non-state actors. But I can certainly see why my Palestinian brothers and sisters see this kind of thing as terrorism.

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