Last Friday in the West Bank village of Qaddum, Israeli security forces detained four Palestinian children, aged four through nine. According to the children and other witnesses, the boys were standing by and watching as local young men burned tires at the village's weekly anti-occupation protest. SocialTV, an independent Israeli initiative that places its reports on YouTube, interviewed the children, below.
The arrest of children is not a new phenomenon in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In July the Israeli media obtained footage that shows soldiers arresting a 5 year-old boy in Hebron. The Israeli human rights organization B'tselem has also published video showing soldiers waking children up at 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning to take their photographs and note their names. According to B'tselem, this is far from an isolated incident.
Human rights NGOs have been expressing concern about the increasing frequency of Israeli security forces arresting Palestinian children for several years, with UNICEF publishing a report on the matter last year. In a follow up, Haaretz reported that the Israeli army had met with UNICEF officials and assured them that they were introducing changes to their policies regarding the arrest of children. But those changes, for example a halt to the practice of waking children in the middle of the night to take their photos, have not been implemented.