A video published this week shows Israeli security forces blocking the main entrance to two neighborhoods in Hebron: Gheith and A-Salaimeh. As a result, children were forced to climb a fence to get to their mothers.
As Orly Noy puts it, this is what collective punishment looks like, and it’s what Israeli forces frequently do to Palestinians.
Israeli forces do not allow Palestinians to travel by car on one of the main roads that runs through A-Salaimeh, A-Salaimeh Street. Therefore, officials stand at both entrances of the road at military checkpoints.
Since 2012, which is when a barrier was built to split the road in two, Palestinians have only been allowed to walk on the narrow, dirty, and unfinished side of the road while Jewish pedestrians and vehicles are allowed to use the paved road.
Early this month, the Israeli army enlarged this fence. But the only gate built into it is supposed to remain open between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. so Palestinian residents can pass through. However, for the past year, the anti-occupation organization B'Tselem said, this hasn’t been the case.
A May 13 video shows students suffering precisely because the gate, which should be open, is not. And, as their mothers standing on the other side plead with the officers to open it, officers threaten the children.
In the video, a child asks one of the Israeli officials to open the gate, to which he responds, “I will open your face.” Another officer threatens one of the Palestinian mothers, saying, “If you continue, I will drag you outside and arrest you. Try me.”
As more and more children gather around the gate, they finally begin to climb over it. Thankfully, officers didn’t do anything aggressive to stop them.
But why do they keep the gate shut in the first place?
One officer said, “It’s not my problem.” But the next thing he said may provide an answer.
“[Y]ou throw stones, this is your punishment,” he said. It seems officials were told to punish all children for the behavior of a few.
When will the international community truly pressure Israel on this approach to punishment? And when will the United States admit that it gives Israel a free pass when it comes to the country’s treatment of Palestinians?
With President Donald Trump in power, it’s fair to estimate that Palestinians will continue to be ignored for the duration of his presidency.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters/Mussa Qawasma