Israeli soldiers detained a 7-year-old Palestinian boy reportedly using him as a human shield, an Israeli human rights organization claimed Thursday. The incident occurred during the weekly protest in Palestine’s Kafr Qadum town in the West Bank region.
The boy, identified as Muamen Murad Mahmoud Shteiwi, is a resident of the town and told the B'Tselem human rights group the soldiers knocked him over and grabbed him, detaining him for 10 minutes while they opened fire at the protesters last week.
“… I was so surprised and scared, I couldn’t run. One of the masked soldiers knocked me over and grabbed me, and then more masked soldiers gathered around me,” Shteiwi said. “I was afraid. I cried and screamed because of how they looked. The soldiers detained me for about ten minutes. They shot at the protestors with me next to them.”
Since July 2011, the weekly demonstrations at Kafr Qadum were a regular event with protesters opposing the military roadblock due to the expansion of a settlement nearby. The roadblock forced the town’s residents to take a bypass nearby that extended their 15-minute trip to Nablus city by about 40 minutes.
Shteiwi was part of a group of children who separated from the protesters and were unaware of the presence of soldiers.
“One of the kids threw a stone towards a dirt mound that had a tin sheet on it. As soon as the stone hit the tin, men with masks came out from under it,” he said later. Shteiwi assumed they were protesters at first but later realized they were Israeli soldiers.
Israel has been accused in the past of torturing Palestinian children and using them as human shields. The United Nations, in 2013, accused Israeli troops of mistreating children in the Gaza and West Bank regions.
“Hundreds of Palestinian children have been killed and thousands injured over the reporting period as a result of the state party military operations, especially in Gaza where the state party proceeded to (conduct) air and naval strikes on densely populated areas with a significant presence of children, thus disregarding the principles of proportionality and distinction,” the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said in a report.
The watchdog also expressed its concern over the “continuous use of Palestinian children as human shields and informants,” adding that 14 such cases had been reported between January 2010 and March 2013.