Monday, September 15, 2008

2am proves IDF's Rush Hour

I normally do not report on the type of story I am about to report on. The potential for sensationalism and exaggeration is much too great. But I have seen so many similar reports over the last few months that to continue to ignore the trend would be to purposefully hide it. And so I must try to create something midway between sensationalism and deception.

At the customary hour for such dealings, 2:30 in the morning, On September 11, 12-year-old Mohammad Saleh Khawaje was awakened at home and arrested by Israeli soldiers for the charge of "stone-throwing and disturbance of public order." He is still in jail awaiting bail with his codefendant, 13-year-old Abdul Ahman.

In the Israeli justice system, Palestinian youth can be tried as adults at the age of 12. In contrast, Israeli youth are considered children until they turn 18.

This situation is further complicated by Mohammad's father's belief that his son was arrested in an act of revenge. Abed Saleh, Mohammed's father, says he had complained to Israeli police and military about a daylong beating he suffered at the behest of the now-infamous Lt. Col. Omri Bruberg.

Saleh tells ISM:
Abed Saleh wasn’t home when Israeli soldiers invaded the village of Ni’lin on Thursday night and raided his house. “The soldiers came to the house to take me again,” he explained. “They asked where I was. When they found out I wasn’t there they took my son instead.”
Saleh is not the first to accuse Bruberg of violence or of revenge for the complaints about such violence.
This is the second time in recent history that such allegations have been laid against Israeli soldiers under Lt. Col. Omri’s command. One month ago Jamal Amira, father of Salam Amira, the teenager who shot the infamous video in which Omri ordered the aforementioned shooting of Ashraf Abu Rama, was arrested as “Salam’s father” by self-proclaimed “friends of Omri”, and subjected to abuse strikingly similar to that Abd Saleh describes in his testimony.
A similar case was noted by the UK Guardian's Seth Freedman back in July. In that case, another Muhammad, this time 14 years old, described his ordeal in prison for the same charge as I previously mentioned: throwing stones. Freeman notes that, "Since September 2000 Israel has arrested and detained almost 6000 children, with 700 under-18s arrested in 2007 alone."

These are the facts on the ground, not rumor. What is debated is whether or not the children were actually throwing stones, and if they were, if this is a crime a 12-year-old should be arrested for.

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