The image above shows Israeli police taking a Palestinian minor into custody after he allegedly stabbed an Israeli security guard in Pisgat Zeev, an Israeli settlement annexed to Jerusalem.
While the photo to many would appear as yet another instance of justice being served to a boy who may have committed a crime against an officer, it also represents the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on children who are being abused by both sides.
The boy in the image is just one of the hundreds of Palestinian children — aged between 12 to 14 years — who have been arrested and/or wounded by IDF soldiers over the last month for alleged stabbings of Israeli soldiers and civilians.
Like other arrested attackers, he will be put on trial and most probably sent to prison — when he could have stayed at school and avoided the terrible fate that now awaits him.
But that’s how life is for children in the embattled region now.
When it comes to the conflict between Palestine and Israel, neither side is innocent. While one is using young people to fight a war that isn’t theirs to fight, the other is recklessly using machine guns as protection against stones.
The stabbings, of course, cannot be justified. But what could possibly lead a skinny 11-year-old to skip school and instead plunge a knife into a soldier of one of the most battle-trained armies in the world?
There’s a deeper underlying problem here that is ruining a whole new generation.
Violence, it appears, is taking a toll on the mental health of children who are frequently exposed to hostilities and aggression.
A case in point are the two Palestinian cousins who reportedly wounded an Israeli guard after watching video clips from the interrogation of Ahmad Manasra, a Palestinian 13-year-old accused of attacking Israeli citizens in occupied East Jerusalem.
"Research by many scholars has shown that depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and general psychological difficulties are common among [Palestinian] children," Federica D'Alessandra, a policy fellow at Harvard University's Carr Centre for Human Rights, told Al Jazeera in an interview, after stating the conflict is leaving “deep psychological scars,” especially on Palestinian youths.
The body of eight-month-old Palestinian baby who died after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli troops – Reuters
At least 201 Palestinian children were injured by Israeli soldiers or settlers in the West Bank and Gaza between Oct. 6 and 12, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. More killings and arrests are expected as violence continues to grow in the region.
However, is putting minors on trial for crimes they don’t even know why they committed the right solution?
This is something for the big policy-makers to think about.