Video Shows Israeli Police Attacking Palestinian Boy, Rights Group Says

By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz
By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A video released by an Israeli human rights organization shows what the group describes as a 9-year-old Palestinian boy being assaulted by two border police officers in the West Bank city of Hebron.

The footage, released by B'tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, shows the boy walking on pavement outside a building when a uniformed police officer runs up to him and grabs him by an arm, causing him to lose his balance and pulling him along the ground for a few feet.

The police officer, who is holding a rifle in one hand, asks the boy, "Why are you making trouble?" according to B'tselem. Seconds later, a second police officer, also carrying a rifle, walks up to the boy, kicks him, turns around and walks off without speaking. At that, the first policeman releases the boy, who runs out of the frame.

In response to the video, Israeli border police issued a statement saying, "The Border Police denounces the policemen's behaviour, which contrasts the values of the force. It is important to note that this is a rare incident which does not represent the actions of the Border Police in Israel. The Border Police commander instructed on setting up a team to investigate the incident immediately and its conclusions are due in the coming days."

B'tselem says on its website that the video was shot by a volunteer in B'tselem's camera distribution project from inside his home near the Tomb of the Patriarchs. It says he began to shoot the video when he saw the officer hiding behind a wall.

The boy was identified by his father, Amer Burqan, as Abdel-Rahman Burqan. It was a "very sad and disgusting attack," the elder Burqan told CNN. "You don't expect such unethical behavior from an officer who considers himself to be providing security and law and order."

"This is animalistic and vicious behavior," he said about the video, two minutes of which were posted on youtube.com. The posting says the video was shot June 29.

An investigation should be opened into the incident, said Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for B'tselem.

"From the video evidence and from evidence collected from the child, it's obvious the border police officer was basically waiting for him and grabbed him and another border police officer came and kicked the child," she said. "The child denies attacking or harassing the border police officer. Regardless, this is irrelevant as far as B'tsalem is concerned, because this kind of behavior is absolutely prohibited regardless of the circumstance."

She continued, "This kind of violence by border police officers, by official members of the Israeli security forces is outrageous and not allowed. B'tsalem is going to complain with the department of police investigations in the Ministry of Justice, which is a relevant government investigative body of allegations against the border police."

Michaeli said the boy had been treated similarly before. "A month ago he was attacked by border police officers on his way back from school," she said.

The incident occurred a few days after a team of human rights lawyers published a report funded by the British government that accuses Israel of violating international law in its treatment of Palestinian child detainees.

It was written after a week-long visit last September by the delegation to Israel and the West Bank.

The report accuses Israel of treating Palestinian and Israeli children differently -- Israelis must be at least 14 before they can be sent to jail; Palestinians must be 12. Israeli children generally have a legal right to have their parents present during questioning; Palestinians do not, it says. An Israeli child can be held no more than two days without being granted access to a lawyer; a Palestinian child can be held 90 days, it says.

"It may be that much of the reluctance to treat Palestinian children in conformity with international norms stems from a belief, which was advanced to us by a military prosecutor, that every Palestinian child is a 'potential terrorist,' the report says. "Such a stance seems to us to be the starting point of a spiral of injustice, and one which only Israel, as the Occupying Power in the West Bank, can reverse."

The Israel Defense Forces did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Mark Regev, the spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told "The Age" newspaper of Melbourne, Australia, that Israel was studying the report's proposals. "The report acknowledges that Israel has made improvements and they have praised us for that," Regev said.

"You have countless acts of violence, including deadly violence, perpetrated by minors -- Israel is acting because of a vacuum created by a lack of action from the Palestinian leadership and by the exploitation of minors by the extremist groups."


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