The IDF said on Friday that a five-year-old Palestinian Authority Arab boy detained by troops for throwing stones had endangered public safety but had not been formally arrested.
The boy, Wadi' Maswada, was detained for an hour or two by IDF soldiers on Tuesday after he threw rocks near the Cave of Machpelah in Hevron.
The leftist B’tselem group later disseminated a video in which the soldiers are shown taking the boy to his parents' home. The soldiers reportedly waited there until the arrival of the boy's father, Karim Maswada, some 30 minutes later.
The boy and his father were then taken to the IDF's command center nearby and handed over to Palestinian Authority police.
Throughout the event, the boy is accompanied by an Arab youth who holds his hand, and who appears to be his relative.
The IDF clarified in a statement sent to AFP on Friday that the child was never arrested or charged.
"On Tuesday afternoon a minor was caught in the act of hurling rocks towards a public street in Hevron and, by doing so, endangering passers-by in the area," it said.
The boy himself admitted to AFP that he threw a stone and hit a car by mistake.
"I saw a dog there, there was a small car there. I threw the stone at the dog but hit the car. Those soldiers were there. Then they came and put me in the jeep," he said.
B'tselem claimed the soldiers took the child to his home and told his mother they intended to hand him over to PA police. When the child's father arrived home he was advised that he would himself be arrested if he did not bring the child, the group said.
The IDF statement quoted by AFP said, "Soldiers intervened on the spot and accompanied the minor to his parents.
"From there he was passed on to the care of the Palestinian security forces, all the while accompanied by his parents. The child was not arrested and no charges were filed."
"It is critical to bear in mind that even rocks thrown by children can pose a lethal threat to people," noted the IDF.
The statement did not accuse Wadia of causing injury or property damage.
Maariv columnist Ben Dror Yemini wrote about the incident, which predictably received much attention in Israeli and foreign media: “On the day in which an Israeli soldier detained a Palestinian boy, another 100 people were killed in Syria, most of them innocents. That is the daily average. It is possible that some 'fighter' from one of the jihadist groups beheaded three women. In Nigeria, Somalia or Mali, dozens of children were slaughtered, or died of hunger.
"But there is a great difference between all of those horrors and the child who was detained in Hevron,” Yemini noted. “130,000 children died of starvation in Somalia because the jihadists decided not to transfer food to them. The story hardly reached the world's press, and even when it did, the coverage was marginal.”
"As far as human rights or children's rights are concerned,” he explained, “the problem is that the story about the child detained in Hevron will receive much more coverage than the starving to death of 130,000 children.” The overabundance of cameras recording every single misstep by the IDF therefore causes a moral aberration, he added.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)