A little Palestinian boy is earning the sympathies of many after a video of him being tortured by Israeli soldiers appeared online.
In the video filmed on March 19, 8-year-old Sufian Abu Hitah is seen crying and begging for help from Israel Defense Forces soldiers while they profusely question him before dragging him through the streets of Hebron, Palestine.
The boy had snuck out of his grandparents’ house barefoot to look for a missing toy, when he was caught by around 15 IDF soldiers. The men then asked him the names of children who had thrown stones and a Molotov cocktail at a nearby Kiryat Arba Israeli settlement.
The child was absolutely clueless and kept insisting that he didn’t know of any such children. But the soldiers, who refused to believe him, continued asking him questions and demanding the information. The torture continued for an hour, as the frightened child cried, shivered and pleaded, until a group of women including Sufian’s mother happened to intervene and rescue him.
“I went up to one of the soldiers and asked him to give me back my son. He refused… I tried to explain that we don’t live in the neighborhood and were just visiting my parents. I told the soldier that Sufian doesn’t know the names of the neighborhood kids. He ignored me,” said the child’s mother in an interview with B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights.
“Sufian was shaking with fear. I saw him talk to the soldiers and tell them that he doesn’t know anything, but it didn’t help. The soldiers dragged him along and made him enter Muhammad a-Nahnush’s house with them. When they came out, about five minutes later, Sufian was crying. They didn’t arrest anyone in that house. I don’t know whether they beat Sufian while they were in there, or what happened inside,” she added.
Unfortunately, instances of Israeli soldiers torturing and detaining Palestinian children are not a rare occurrence. Each year, around 500-700 Palestinian children are arrested, detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. Most of them are charged with throwing stones, and three out of four undergo physical violence during arrest, transfer or interrogation.
“Palestinian children are treated in ways that would terrify and traumatize an adult,” said Sari Bashi, the Israel/Palestine Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch. “Screams, threats and beatings are no way for the police to treat a child or to get accurate information from them.”