Recently the IDF was widely condemned after left-wing Israeli groups publicized a video clip showing Israeli soldiers allegedly arresting a sobbing Arab child in the city of Hevron. The child was taken into custody after hurling rocks at Israelis who were driving past.
Now IDF legal experts have spoken out to explain why the child was detained – and why the detention was for his own good.
IDF Legal Advisor for Judea and Samaria, Col. Doron Ben Barak, explained that the detention was a legitimate way to “remove danger,” both to the child and to innocent Israel civilians.
“Not infrequently, IDF soldiers and security forces personnel encounter children under the age of 12 who are throwing rocks at civilians, at cars and at security forces, and participating in riots, all this without parental supervision,” he stated.
“Let us recall that these incidents pose a significant risk to passersby and to security forces, and are likely to endanger the child himself, who is without an adult caretaker,” he added.
A youth under age 12 cannot be held responsible for his or her crimes under Israeli law, Ben-Barak noted, and the child in question was not arrested, and will not be arrested or put on trial. “However, that does not mean that IDF soldiers lack the authority to deal with incidents in which a minor child is endangering both the public and himself,” he said.
“Security forces are authorized to take action to remove the risk that the child’s actions pose to himself and others, with one option being removing him from the area and accompanying him to his parents or to the Palestinian Authority officials who, under interim agreements, are responsible for social welfare,” he explained.
The child’s parents or guardians, or PA welfare officials, are then free to take whatever action they see fit, he said.
The IDF made one mistake in the incident in question, he noted, and that was arresting the young boy’s father “without there being a suspicion that justified those steps.” However, the detention of the child was the moral thing to do, he insisted.
“When IDF soldiers see a child doing a dangerous activity such as throwing rocks at passing cars, it would be irresponsible of them to ignore him and leave him alone, when he would continue his dangerous actions,” Ben-Barak declared.