Knesset's Committee on Rights of the Child held an emergency session Tuesday, following a complaint by the residents of the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Levona, north of Ramallah, alleging that Border Guards stopped a children's bus heading to the settlement in retaliation for their stopping Civil Administration officers from serving settlement freeze orders, two weeks ago.
According to the children – first to seven graders – the Border Guards ordered them to get off the bus and walk back to settlement – a mile away – in pouring rain.
Upon arriving at the community gate, the children said they encountered clashes between the settlers and other Border Guards, during which they were assaulted.
"One Border Guard officer grabbed me and threw me (aside) and I fell on my back. I was lucky my backpack stopped the fall," one of the children, aged 12, told the committee.
Another child told the committee the Border Guards used stun grenades against them. One of the mothers present at the session told the committee that "the children were subjected to unfathomable violence. They've been terribly traumatized."
Other parents echoed claims to the trauma caused to the children, saying they have yet to receive any professional help.
Binyamin Council Head Avi Roeh said the incident represents a gross violation of human rights: "This is an unspeakable act. What are these children supposed to think about the army? How are they supposed to enlist with this incident in mind?"
Committee Chairman Danny Danon (Likud) criticized the fact that despite his request, the defense establishment did not see fit to send a delegate to the meeting.
Danon said he holds Defense Minister Ehud Barak responsible: "Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that he has chosen to boycott a Knesset committee.
The Defense Ministry said it was given only a two-day notice on the meeting and the short notice was the reason it was unable to send a representative.