Who is this child threatening?
Israeli soldiers dragged a Palestinian child from his home; beating him up in front of his mother. When the father came out to defend his child, the soldiers shot him dead. Then the child was arrested later that night
To this day, the eyes of the parents and the children I met when I was writing an article about the cruel practice of arresting Palestinian children do not let go of me (“Haaretz”, 13.3.2019). Both when I’m awake and when I’m dreaming, with me in my thoughts are all those who courageously and generously agreed to go back to the traumatic nights of detention, and describe to me what they had been through, so that I could write about them.
The thought of foreign soldiers entering our home in the middle of the night as we sleep, announcing that they are arresting our eldest son, blindfolding him, handcuffing him, dragging him from one place to another — and all this while joking about him in a language he does not understand and without explaining to him in his language where they are taking him and why — this thought is hard to bear. And then they will tie him to a post for the whole night, without water, food, or a blanket to protect him from the cold.
When I read about Palestinian father Samir Aslan, who was killed when he fiercely defended his son Ramzi during an arrest in the middle of the night (“Haaretz”, 12.1), I thought to myself: I would have done the same. I would have died a thousand deaths before allowing cruel soldiers to take my son to a place of suffering and torment, while blindfolded. After all, the soldiers were not content with arresting the boy — they also beat him in the yard of his house.
Jack Khoury reports that the soldiers broke into the family’s house and announced that they came to arrest the son. The mother was without her head covering, and she asked the soldiers to wait a few minutes until she covered her hair — but they did not comply with her request and took the son immediately. In desperation, she asked them not to beat him, but they took him out of the house and beat him all over his body. Ramzi’s father, Samir, came out to them shouting and demanding that they let his son go — and then they shot the father with a round of bullets. The woman begged for first aid to be called — but even then the soldiers did not heed her plea and a short while later the father died of his wounds.
Every year Israel arrests about 800–1,000 children aged 13–17. At any given moment, approximately 300 Palestinian children are held in Israeli prisons. Most of them languish there due to alleged stone-throwing, but it is quite doubtful whether all of them actually threw stones. A few organizations are trying to fight this practice, including B’tselem, UNICEF and even the Council of Europe.
There is also a small organization called “Parents Against Child Detention”, founded by Israeli-Jewish parents. These parents want us to find the parental feeling hidden in each of us, and inspire us to take action against such acts. This week they invited the public to a screening of a documentary about this practice. The title of the film: “Two Children a Day”, by filmmaker David Waxman. Of course, the screening of the film did not go smoothly, and the Minister of Culture, Miki Zohar, announced that he and the Minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich, would work together to retroactively deny budgets for the film (Haaretzt, 10.1).
I am sure that even the greatest Arab hater, and also those who have a burning belief in their heart about our right to the whole land of Israel, do not believe that Jewish supremacy should be reflected in severe trauma inflicted on a child. And by the way, Ramzy, the son of the Aslan family, whose father was killed to protect him from beatings and arrest — was eventually arrested that night. Did the soldiers really think that a beaten and bruised child, who had just lost his father before his eyes — in the most horrible scene imaginable — could still threaten someone in such a situation, to the extent that they had to arrest him?