Israeli units target Palestinian boys

Four Palestinian boys demonstrating against the separation barrier being built by Israel in occupied West Bank have been beaten and detained by undercover Israeli police, witnesses said.

    Israeli undercover units routinely accompany soldiers on raids

    On Thursday Ahmad Shaikh, 14, Muntasir al-Jamal, 12, Mustafa Khalid, 13, and 14-year-old Amjad Shaikh were agitating against the destruction and confiscation of land in the village of Bait Surik, northwest of Jerusalem, along with some 200 others, when Israeli military police disguised as Palestinians beat and detained them.

    A spokesperson for the Israeli civil administration was unable to comment on the allegation.

    Residents of the village have been
    staging non-violent protests against the destruction of farm land to make way for Israel's separation barrier since 26 February.

    The West Bank wall has been ruled illegal by the Hague-based International Court of Justice.

    Witness account

    Witnesses interviewed by said the arrests were completely unprovoked.

    "On my way home [after the demonstration], I saw two individuals amid us who were not familiar to me.  I asked if I could talk to them, but they backed away and I began to warn people about them. I suspected they were undercover police," Muhammad Mansur, 36, a village resident, said.

    Israeli army actions have caused
    injuries to many Palestinian boys

    "They began throwing stones at the protesters to incite them. They then took out their guns and began beating a youth with it, and shooting into the air."

    The army detained five boys, releasing one shortly thereafter, and injured six of the protesters. The boys are reported to have received severe beatings.

    Leila M, an Israeli activist, said she has contacted the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel about the case.

    The detained boys are being held in Kfar Etzion juvenile jail and have a trial scheduled for Sunday at the Ofer military court, according to security sources.

    This is the fourth consecutive day that Israeli Special Forces - disguised as Palestinians - have infiltrated the demonstrations in Bait Surik, according to the International Solidarity Movement, which brings foreign activists to the Occupied Territories.

    Tape not aired

    The wall has cut off many West
    Bank farmers from their land

    On 28 February, Israeli undercover agents arrested six Palestinian teenagers along with the mayor of Bait Surik, Muhammad Qandil, who had attempted to speak with Israeli soldiers about the destruction of their lands.

    Israeli police say Qandil assaulted a border policeman, a charge he vehemently denies through his lawyer Bilal Mahfuz.  

    "He was told he was being taken to meet with contractors working on the separation wall.  Instead he was arrested on charges of assaulting a soldier and violating a military order to build the wall," Mahfuz said.

    The judge agreed to release Qandil to house arrest on 12,000 new Israeli shekels ($2800) cash bail - which the villagers pitched in to provide - until his hearing, but the prosecution appealed the decision based on "secret evidence" and Qandil is still sitting in prison, according to his lawyer.

    Leila M was at the scene of the 28 February demonstration and filmed it.

    The Israeli activist said she gave the tape to several Israeli channels, but none of them aired it.

    She gave her account of the incident to "The Israeli border police were waiting there for something to happen. Next they started throwing stones at the crowd, while the undercover police started arresting some of the Palestinian boys.

    "One of the undercover policemen held a teenager and hit him with a gun, then aimed his gun less than 20cm from another Palestinian boy. The intimidatory firing and physical assault on the protesters continued until the Israelis had bundled the boys into their jeeps."

    Friendly ties

    The villagers of Bait Surik have traditionally had a very amicable relationship with their Israeli neighbours in Mevasseret Zion, a town built on the ruins of a Palestinian village.

    Together, they filed an appeal to the Israeli High Court of Justice demanding a change in the route of the West Bank separation barrier, arguing that a fence rising between them would increase animosity and thereby lessen the sense of safety.

    Protesters have kept the moral
    heat on the occupation forces

    On 30 June the Israeli supreme court ruled against 30km of the wall's path that is to be built in seven villages in northwest Jerusalem, including Bait Surik, demanding that the army propose new maps that will be based on "the proper balance between security and humanitarian considerations".

    The revised route, however, still confiscates some 15% of what remains of Bait Surik's land.

    "The High Court may have ruled that the route of the fence will be changed, but people still aren't happy that their village is becoming a prison," Israeli activist and ISM spokesperson Neta Golan said.
    "Most of them work inside the [armistice] line. Their livelihood depends on farming in these areas."

    The wall will also separate the villagers from the settlement of Haradar, built on 1500 dunums of land grabbed from the village in 1980.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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