Three children aged 6, 11, and 12, residents of the settlement of Talmon in the West Bank, were detained by an IDF officer who suspected they stole a fistful of olives from a Palestinian grove.
The father told Ynet Thursday that the officer had scared the children badly by jokingly asking them to put their hands up. "They didn't think it was funny at all," he said.
The incident occurred two weeks ago when six brothers and sisters, aged 3-12, went out walking near their home in Talmon. They entered Palestinian territory located 50 meters from the settlement and picked some olives from the trees there.
At this point the owner of the grove contacted the Coordination and Liaison Administration to report the theft, as the children made their way back home. A few minutes later, a major from the Golani Brigade drove up to the house, accompanied by two soldiers, all of them serving in the reserves.
The major proceeded to confiscate the bag of olives and reprimanded the children for trespassing on private turf. He then notified the police. The children, in the meantime, alerted their father to the scene.
"The grove is an area where the children meet for activities, so it is a familiar setting for them," the father said, adding that they had not intended to steal a thing and acted innocently.
He said the officer had yelled at them and announced on the military radio that the "criminals" had been caught.
When the father arrived a verbal brawl broke out. "I asked the officer if he had nothing better to do than deal with little kids," he said. "The army is supposed to protect them… but instead they treated six-year-olds as if they were endangering someone."
After the soldiers left, the family thought they could leave the ordeal behind them. However, on Friday the children were called down to the police station to give testimony.
"This is absurd," the father said. "The children are traumatized and for two weeks the police won't stop busying itself with this." He added that he had refused to take them to the station.
The police responded by stating that "after examining the circumstances it was decided not to investigate the minors involved and make do with a warning to the father to make sure the incident does not repeat itself".
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