'I'm not a threat.' Salah Hawaja
Photo: Iad Hadad, B'Tselem
Photo: Meir Azulay
Colonel Omri Burberg
Photo: Meir Azulay

Naalin: 12-year-old arrested over violent riot

IDF forces apprehend West Bank boy suspected of involvement in violent demonstrations against security barrier. Father: Soldiers carried him away like sheep, used him as human shield. IDF: It's no secret that even a stone can kill

Large IDF forces arrived Wednesday night at the West Bank village of Naalin in order to arrest 12-year-old Muhammad Hawaja, who is suspected of involvement in violent riots held in protest of Israel's construction of the security barrier.


His father, Salah Hawaja, told Ynet that the forces, “came in from the mountains, surrounded the house and removed Muhammad from his bed.


"My wife and I can’t forget the image of IDF soldiers grabbing hold of Muhammad's pajama collar and leading him away as if he were a sheep crying and screaming," said the father, a paramedic.


According to him, the troops used Muhammad as a sort of human shield as they left the village, located near Modi'in.


"Upon leaving the house the forces were confronted by village youths, who hurled stones," Hawaja said. "Muhammad was used as a shield."


The IDF responded to its arrest of Hawaja by stating: "We will continue to enforce the law and chase down anyone who seeks to bring harm in any way to IDF soldiers and Border Guard officers."


The army further explained the boy's arrest: "The fact that two minors were arrested in Naalin and admitted during questioning that they had participated in violent riots is proof that we are a required presence there."


The statement said that the army would continue to act against all rioters, regardless of age. "Aside from the economic harm exacted by these protests and riots, which take place in Naalin and do financial harm to the security fence, we have more than enough soldiers and officers that have been injured by stones, and it's no secret that even a stone can kill," it said.


'Act of revenge'

But the father, who was recently been arrested during two separate anti-security fence rallies, says the detainment of his son was conducted as "an act of revenge".


"If they (soldiers) came because of me, then I'll say it again – I was merely fulfilling my duty as a paramedic and do not pose a threat of any kind.


"My 12-year-old son should certainly not have to be a victim of the IDF's attempts to get back at me," he said.


Salah said he has yet to be notified where his son is being held.


About a month ago the father was beaten by Colonel Omri Burberg, who was relieved of his command following the incident in which a soldier fired a rubber-coated bullet at a bound Palestinian in Naalin. The indecent was caught on tape.


Residents of Naalin and the Anti-Fence Committee fear that Muhammad's arrest was part of a new strategy aimed at applying psychological pressure on them.


The IDF Spokesperson's Office said in response that Muhammad was arrested after evidence that was gathered linked him to violent disturbances, including attacks on security forces with cinder blocks and stones.


On Wednesday evening a resident of the village was injured from live fire. The man, in his 20s, sustained injuries to his leg.


פרסום ראשון: 09.11.08, 15:31
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