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IDF soldiers to West Bank children: 'We are the army, be careful if we see you'

IDF soldiers posted leaflets in the West Bank village of Qadum warning children to refrain from attending demonstrations. The leaflet, photographed yesterday at the weekly protest in the village by activist Lior Ben-Eliyahu (the children’s eyes have been hidden by +972), show photographs of four children from the village, probably taken by soldiers at previous demonstrations. The message reads: “We are the army. Be careful if we see you, we’re going to catch you or come to your house.”

"We'll come to your house". Leaflets in Qadum (Lior Ben Eliahu)

“We’ll come to your house.” Leaflets in Qadum (Lior Ben Eliahu)

This is most likely a private initiative by soldiers serving in the village. Just recently Ma’ariv published an extensive story (Hebrew) about soldiers who feel their hands are tied by army regulations when it comes to the dispersal of demonstrations in Qadum. The story was followed up by a campaign, led in part by Ma’ariv and Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party, to loosen regulations, allowing a lighter finger on the trigger. According to Haaretz’s Chaim Levinson, the campaign is part of settlers’ efforts to get rid of Brig. General Nitzan Alon, mainly for political reasons.

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    1. This reminds me of an incident that took place a couple of years ago with a friend’s little girl who was seven at the time. She dropped a chocolate bar wrapper in the checkpoint and a soldier tried to joke with her, telling her he could take her to jail for that. That night she wouldn’t go to bed. She knows that the army makes arrests in the night and she hid in her wardrobe in case they came. It took us nearly an hour to get her out, and even then she wouldn’t be in her own bed. She insisted on getting in with someone else. I sat with her on my lap and read her some stories until she felt able to sleep, and all the time I was wanting to run down to the checkpoint and ask that well-meaning twenty-year-old idiot if he had a clue what he was part of. A shame I didn’t have this leaflet to hand – I would have been able to show him.

      Reply to Comment
      • Congratulations, Vicky. The powerful mind of Trespasser has begun to ignore you.

        Reply to Comment
        • I know him in real life and we have an agreement that we don’t talk about army child abuse online, so he won’t reply to me here. He suggested this himself after realising that his comments were upsetting me, which is what passes for tact and consideration with him. In his own somewhat unique way, he does try.

          He knows quite a few stories from my work. He listens (in his own words, “I can’t pretend that this stuff does not exist”) but how he relates to those stories is complicated. People who have experienced a lot of violence themselves do not always grow up to be the nicest or happiest of adults. Some of them just take it for granted that violence is the norm and they don’t expect anything better, either for themselves or for others. He would probably disagree with me, but I think this is a big part of the problem for Trespasser.

          Reply to Comment
        • Marcos

          Greg, I don’t think your comment about another commentator was appropriate. Please keep to the topic and keep your personal issues to yourself. This board is fr adults.

          Reply to Comment
        • Vicky, Marcos, I take both of your points.

          Reply to Comment
    2. The Trespasser

      Haggai, what measures is IDF allowed to undertake to prevent Palestinian Arab kids from throwing stones and protesting otherwise?

      Reply to Comment
      • Haifawi

        Ideally the same powers they have to prevent settler violence.

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          How many Israelis did die due to settler violence?

          Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Notice that the criminal doesn’t care about the Palestinians who die from settler violence.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            No, since Palestinian do not care about Jews who die from Arab violence.

            By the way, you would not care too much if Palestinians would be able to massacre couple millions of Israelis, on the contrary, you’d probably throw a party and hand people free beers to celebrate.

            Reply to Comment
          • Haifawi

            But that’s just it! There’s no difference between populations living in the West Bank. It’s all under the same military law. Violence is violence is violence. The IDF has a duty to maintain security for everyone, NOT to protect settlers. To do otherwise is Apartheid in the very real, non-hysterical sense of the word.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >There’s no difference between populations living in the West Bank.

            But there is.
            Population group A is inherently hostile towards population group B (including IDF) and reject them all and any rights, including a right to have homeland in Palestine.

            >It’s all under the same military law.

            I’m not quite entirely sure of that.

            >Violence is violence is violence.

            Nonsense. Did you forget that Arabs have an age-old tradition to throw stones at Jews and it is unlawful to deny them this right?

            >The IDF has a duty to maintain security for everyone, NOT to protect settlers.

            IDF is not police, so that your claim is doubtful either.

            >To do otherwise is Apartheid in the very real, non-hysterical sense of the word.

            Nah. It would be Apartheid if Palestinians were Israelis, but they are not.

            I seriously doubt that people who willingly chose to remain outlaws for over 60 years can be subjected to Apartheid. They never done anything to have own state – not since the 1st Palestinian Arab congress – and all attempts to make them have own state has failed – in 1947, 2000, 2002 and 2008.

            The situation is rather unique – there is no other ethnicity/nationality which would reject statehood for over three times, so all attempts to compare it to SA Apartheid are only intended to distract attention from the major cause of the conflict.

            Reply to Comment
          • Haifawi

            Population group A and Population group B are hostile to EACH OTHER. And the IDF is caught in the middle (seriously, remember when the settlers stoned the army base?).
            They ARE subject to the same military law, Israel just chooses to apply civilian law only to the Jews. In the West Bank, the IDF IS the Police. This is their DUTY. To MAINTAIN security.
            No other country puts civilian settlements in Occupied Territory. This is the problem. If the territory was under normal belligerent occupation, there wouldn’t be Apartheid because it would be the IDF enforcing martial law against a hostile population.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >Population group A and Population group B are hostile to EACH OTHER.

            Not quite. You should count Arab civilians killed by Jewish civilians because the were Arabs and Jewish civilians killed by Arab civilians because they were Jews.

            >And the IDF is caught in the middle (seriously, remember when the settlers stoned the army base?).

            Yeah, I remember. However it is worth noticing that this accident was solitary and no-one got hurt.

            >They ARE subject to the same military law, Israel just chooses to apply civilian law only to the Jews.

            Given that the territory in question is governed accordingly to the rules of belligerent occupation, I’m not quite sure that transferred friendly population should be ruled by the same set of rules as occupied hostile population.

            >In the West Bank, the IDF IS the Police.

            IDF is not police. Magav is police.

            >This is their DUTY. To MAINTAIN security.

            No. Their duty is to defend Israel.

            >No other country puts civilian settlements in Occupied Territory.

            Is that so? Not quite.
            Turkey in North Cyprus, China it Tibet, Russia in S. Ossetia. Need more?

            >This is the problem. If the territory was under normal belligerent occupation

            But the territory can not be under “normal” occupation because “normal” occupation requires two states, occupied and occupier.

            >there wouldn’t be Apartheid because it would be the IDF enforcing martial law against a hostile population.

            That’s what IDF is doing – enforcing martial law against hostile population and prevents attacks against Israeli civilians.

            Reply to Comment
          • Haifawi

            The IDF and Magav are subject to the same legal framework. The Magav is different in that it has police powers inside Israel as well.
            And all those other territories are “disputed” territories where the controlling power has annexed the territory, and all residents are under the same framework. Tibetans are Chinese citizens, both Greek and Turk Northern Cypriots are citizens of the TRNC, and South Ossetia is a sovereign area with its own sovereign population. Try again.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >The IDF and Magav are subject to the same legal framework.

            Which is?

            >The Magav is different in that it has police powers inside Israel as well.

            The Magav is different in that it is police. Period.

            >And all those other territories are “disputed” territories where the controlling power has annexed the territory, and all residents are under the same framework.

            Totally irrelevant to “No other country puts civilian settlements in Occupied Territory.”

            N. Cyprus, Tibet and S. Ossetia are all occupied territories.

            >Tibetans are Chinese citizens

            Who are denied their Tibetan identity.

            >both Greek and Turk Northern Cypriots are citizens of the TRNC

            Which is not recognized by any state.

            >and South Ossetia is a sovereign area with its own sovereign population.

            Nonsense.

            >Try again.

            Oh, I’m doing just fine so far. You?

            Reply to Comment
          • Haifawi

            Inside the oPT, the Magav and the IDF have the same law enforcement powers, and the same duty to ensure the security of protected populations (since Israel adheres to the ‘humanitarian’ provisions of the 4th Geneva Convention).
            There IS no “civilian police” in the oPT (at least according to the convention that Israel ‘voluntarily’ follows. It is ALL under MARTIAL LAW.
            Arab citizens of Israel are also discriminated against (and their identity is ignored) but I would never call that Apartheid. It’s not about identity. It’s about nationality. Since Israel doesn’t allow absentee voting, yet there are polling places in settlements, Israel has de facto annexed the West Bank. There’s even a Misrad HaPnim in Ariel (it should really be Misrad HaHutz)! If the territory is annexed, then the population of that territory are residents of the annexing country.
            Enough with eating the cake while holding it in your hand!

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >Inside the oPT, the Magav and the IDF have the same law enforcement powers, and the same duty to ensure the security of protected populations (since Israel adheres to the ‘humanitarian’ provisions of the 4th Geneva Convention).

            The difference between populations A and B is that A is actively conducting belligerent activity against population B, therefore it is not practicable to protect it.

            “Humanitarian” provisions of 4GC give no right for an “occupied” population to rebel and be protected at the same time.

            >There IS no “civilian police” in the oPT (at least according to the convention that Israel ‘voluntarily’ follows.

            *facepalm*
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_Civil_Police_Force

            >It is ALL under MARTIAL LAW

            Nope.

            >Arab citizens of Israel are also discriminated against (and their identity is ignored)

            Arab citizens of Israel have many different identities – Arab, Bedouin, Druze etc. Which one is ignored?

            >but I would never call that Apartheid.

            Oh, you are too kind.

            >It’s not about identity. It’s about nationality.

            Yes. And Palestinian Arabs 4 (four!!!) times had refused to become a nation. In 1947, 2000, 2002 and 2008. And I’m not even speaking of 1st Palestinian Arab congress where it was resolved that “Palestine part of Arab Syria”. So much for “nationality” huh.

            >Since Israel doesn’t allow absentee voting, yet there are polling places in settlements, Israel has de facto annexed the West Bank.

            There was a de-facto annexation going on – until Oslo accords. Since than Palestinian Arabs 3 (three!!!) times refused to declare an independent state in proposed borders.

            >There’s even a Misrad HaPnim in Ariel (it should really be Misrad HaHutz)!

            >Misrad HaHutz could only be in an established state. Given that since 1947 whole world is begging Palestinian Arabs to create one, while they are adamantly refusing, there is no good reason for one to be there.

            >If the territory is annexed, then the population of that territory are residents of the annexing country.

            If. But the territory is not annexed, given that there is some kind of “Palestinian Authority” etc.

            >Enough with eating the cake while holding it in your hand!

            What should I do with it? Stuck it up my arse?

            Reply to Comment
    3. Philos

      Haggai, I hope Ma’ariv succeed. It’s about time that the West come face-to-face with the widespread popularity of itchy trigger fingers in the West Bank among the Israeli public

      Reply to Comment
    4. Vadim

      How hard it is to refrain from throwing stones?!

      I’ve been at several demonstrations and never felt an uncontrollable urge to pick up a boulder and hurl it at a policeman or a soldier.

      (And in case you wish to ask – yes, I believe Haredi Jews, Settlers, Arabs and everyone else who throw stones at soldier should be handled the same way)

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Don’t you know that Arab children have an age-old tradition of stoning Jews and it is unlawful to deprive them from what their fathers and grandfathers were doing?

        Reply to Comment
        • kate

          but yet, I’ll bet you’ll say the settlers are keeping up a tradition that dates back 3,000 years to this guy named David

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Arabs’ claim to this land is based on 1500 years old legend claiming that Muhammad had ever visited Jerusalem – which is not truth of course, there is not even one mosque, including those which were built during the 1st qibleh, with qibleh towards Jerusalem.

            Jews’ claim to this land is based on 3000 years old legend that the creator has given this land to Jews, which is apparently not truth as well.

            Is there any reason why newer legend should have precedence oven older one?

            Reply to Comment
      • “I’ve been at several demonstrations and never felt an uncontrollable urge to pick up a boulder and hurl it at a policeman or a soldier.”

        It’s legal for you to be at demonstrations. Under the military law to which Palestinians are subjected, all demos are automatically illegal. There is no right to political protest, and this is just one aspect of the life Palestinians lead. You have freedoms that they don’t, and if you were in their place, you might be tempted to throw stones too. And they are definitely stones, not boulders, unless the progeny of the Incredible Hulk are roaming about the South Hebron hills without my knowledge.

        Secondly, the leaflets aim to intimidate children to keep away from demos entirely (and the IDF’s definition of what constitutes a demonstration is very flexible, to the point where kids have been arrested for ‘participating in a protest’ simply for gathering in their own street). The incidence of trauma-related mental health problems is already very high among these children. In 2000 a major study found that 42.3% kids in the Bethlehem area alone met diagnostic criteria for psychological and emotional problems, a figure that has subsequently increased significantly. Palestinian children with trauma-related mental health problems now outnumber those without. Over 90% of children detained by the army experience symptoms of PTSD in the aftermath of their detention, and their friends see how they are when they come back. It makes everyone uneasy and there is a climate of fear. These kids have already spent far too much of their young lives being afraid, and it beggars belief that anyone could think that scaring them some more is the answer to anything. If you’re going to defend the production of leaflets warning children who in all likelihood already suffer from psychological distress that armed soldiers ‘will catch them and come to their houses’, please bear all this in mind. You might want to remember it the next time you read about kids throwing stones at the army too.

        Reply to Comment
        • Vadim

          Vicky, I do not always agree with you but your comments are always interesting and enlightening.

          I agree with you entirely except for one small thing – the responsibility of the other side.

          I do not like the leaflets, I do not like the situation in which we are with our neighbors and I understand how traumatizing a life can be for those children. BUT – that does not strip their parents of their responsibility. That does not strip the 20 year old Arabs from their responsibility nor does it strip their leadership of its responsibility.

          Take responsibility for your actions. People are not tempted to throw stones – they *decide* to throw a stone, otherwise they’re just mindless beasts.

          Stop throwing stones.

          Regarding boulders – I think your are right. I’m not a native English speaker and I thought a boulder is simply a big stone, turns out it’s a REALLY BIG stone and I take my word back.

          Reply to Comment
          • Again, there isn’t any mention of stone-throwing in the leaflet. I think it’s really important to emphasise that children’s lives under occupation are horribly constrained no matter what they do or don’t do. Refraining from stone-throwing simply isn’t enough to be safe.

            But even supposing that all the children photographed for these leaflets like so many wanted criminals really had thrown stones, the army’s behaviour towards them still couldn’t be excused. Young people in custody are granted certain rights in recognition of the fact that they are young, and that their decision-making processes are not the same as for an adult. The IDF does not respect this where Palestinian children are concerned. For Israeli Jewish children under civil law, it’s a completely different story. Take for example the case of the thirteen-year-old who was arrested over suspected participation in last summer’s lynch mob at Zion Square. He was questioned in the presence of a lawyer. His parents were notified of where he was being taken. He was released immediately after questioning, even though the investigation was not complete. Palestinian kids don’t get any of that, even those arrested on suspicion of a far more minor offence than participation in a lynching. Often they aren’t accused of anything at all – the army will simply take kids from a neighbourhood as a means of collective punishment, to scare everyone into good behaviour. The usual hours of arrest are in the small hours of the morning (between midnight and five) when the children are asleep. And let’s not even go into what happens to them in jail.

            Adults first and foremost have a responsibility towards children, and putting the onus on these youngsters not to throw stones essentially means letting grown men with guns off the hook for how they are treating these kids. Even if you’re a total pacifist, I do not think it is reasonable to expect children to refrain from violence towards the army in this situation. Given what they’re part of and everything they’ve done, why should the soldiers deserve any different? (As a pacifist I would answer that it’s a sad world where people only get what they deserve, but defenders of this child abuse obviously do not share that perspective and can hardly say the same.) Why should the children have to behave like saints before they can be treated as children? And you talk about 20-year-old Arab men taking responsibility for their actions – what about 20-year-old Jewish men in khaki? The ones who get defensive and talk about the orders that they are required to obey? The ones who look back on what they did to children with shame and confusion and point to peer pressure as the reason why they didn’t challenge anything? The two guys who once said to me at a Hebron checkpoint, ‘As soon as I put on this uniform, I have to forget my views’ and ‘My opinion doesn’t matter’? Where is the personal responsibility there? It’s a bit much to expect Palestinian kids to take responsibility for cultivating a non-violent ethic so long as those two are standing at that checkpoint and saying things like that. And when their service is over they will be replaced by another two and another two. This is the problem here, not the fact that some twelve-year-old in Beit Ommar has a rock in his hand.

            Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            Everyone should take responsibility for their actions, including soldiers and our leaders.

            Your explanation lacks context. IDF soldiers didn’t start arresting kids for fun. It started as a means to fight something undesired. You may argue that the measures are extreme but they are there for a reason – a reason that was entirely in the power of the Arab population to stop.

            “I do not think it is reasonable to expect children to refrain from violence towards the army in this situation” –

            1. If the army is as brutal as people here claim it is, then it makes perfect sense to be afraid of it and refrain from throwing stones at it.
            2. If the children are not reasonable enough, then it is the role of the parents to put some sense into them
            3. Where else in the world, do children allow themselves to throw stones at soldiers of an enemy state? Can you imagine Chechen or Georgian kids throwing stones at Russian soldiers? Tibetan kids throwing stones at Chinese soldiers? Kurdish kids stoning Turkish soldiers? Irish kids stoning British soldiers (not now obviously)? Syrian soldiers? How about soldiers from the UK or the US?

            So, why do Arab kids throw stones at IDF soldiers and Israeli policemen:
            1. The are mindless beasts, driven only by instinct and uncontrollable rage.
            2. They understand what they are doing and are not really afraid fear the soldiers
            3. They are scared of the soldiers but are still encouraged by their elders and leaders

            I think it’s a combination of 2 and 3. Do you imply it is really the first option?

            Reply to Comment
          • Actually, I can imagine ‘yes’ to a few of those situations – I know many people from Northern Ireland who threw stones at the army as kids, and I owe a lot of insight into the Bethlehem children’s situation to one of those men, who was good enough to sit with me for several hours and talk about his childhood. I have heard of Georgian kids behaving similarly, and in Tibet a few years ago, there were major protests (referred to by the Chinese authorities as ‘riots’ – they use the same dictionary as the IDF) in which more than a few teenagers picked up stones and bottles. There are smaller-scale protests occurring in Tibet regularly, which rarely make the news.

            All these kids are frightened. But being afraid does not mean that they won’t throw stones. This is the army’s repeated mistake. They think that by instilling enough fear, the stone-throwing is going to stop. It won’t.

            I know enough parents who panic about their kids and who don’t want them to get into any trouble, but what can they do? Short of locking them up indoors and never letting them out of their sight, there isn’t much they can do. It’s not that they want their children to be dragged off in the middle of night, and it’s not that the children need any particular encouragement from their elders to do what they do. If you had ever spent time with these kids you might understand them better, but unfortunately the people who talk about them don’t know them. They aren’t mindless (although when in a group, teenagers in particular can become dare-devilish and prone to showing off to each other). Nor are they beasts. They are angry though and they have every right to be. I’m more worried when they aren’t angry and are just quiet and sad and totally shut in on themselves, because there is nothing harder than supporting a child who has so lost sight of their own value that they don’t care how they’re treated any more.

            And again, these leaflets aren’t about stone-throwing, they are about simply being present in a demo. Whatever the IDF classes as a demo. You say that soldiers didn’t start arresting kids ‘for fun’ (although actually some do – bored soldiers are a menace), but they did start arresting them for things that are perfectly acceptable elsewhere in the world. There’s no such thing as a moral occupation and a just military law, so it makes little sense to talk of individual soldiers taking responsibility in this context – how can they? They can try to be non-abusive on an individual level, but the whole system is abusive, so there will always be severe limitations on what they can do for good.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Mikesailor

      I have an idea. Let’s post the pictures of the ‘settlers’ and IDF soldiers in the territories, and warn both that they face charges for war crimes if they ever leave Israel. And that such charges will not expire due to any ‘statute of limitations’. After all, the use of soldiers against children and the so-called Israeli justice systems are both as bad as anything Stalin or Mao ever invented.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >After all, the use of soldiers against children and the so-called Israeli justice systems are both as bad as anything Stalin or Mao ever invented.

        Gosh, why won’t you go and read some historical books? Not that it would greatly improve anything, but nonetheless.

        Children who throw stones to hurt and maim are criminals, and should be dealt with as such.

        Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        Interestingly, IDF criminals and settlers are now routinely hiding their faces like criminals, for exactly that reason, to evade identification.

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          By your logic:
          1 – All Arab stone-throwers who hide their faces are criminals.
          2 – All law enforcement agents who hide their faces are criminals as well.

          Did you ever heard the story about a chicken, who had its head cut off but remained alive for quite a long while?
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_the_Headless_Chicken

          Reply to Comment
    6. Soldiers do not have private initiative in matters like this, as they are threatening to use their capacity under State action. If the IDF fails to clamp down on this distribution, it is as though the IDF ordered it. I suspect the IDF will not prosecute.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Khaled Khalid

      No matter what the Hasbara assigned Trolls Tresspasser, K-9 or XYZ say Yes Israel’s cynicism is on the level of Dr Goebbles Propaganda Machine and as ruthless as the Gestapo.

      I have a theory though about Israel – Even if the Palestinians were all killed off systematically and Israel got away with it, Israelis would still need someone to hate and be afraid of. Israelis need to hate and be hated by someone (even an underdog like the Palestinians) as that is how they define themselves. It confirms their sense of historic persecution and need for self-pity and self imposed mental and cultural Ghettoization but also Israeli/Zionistic Narcissism.
      One more plus is, a fearful population is far easier to control and manipulate.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >I have a theory though about Israel – Even if the Palestinians were all killed off systematically and Israel got away with it…

        Arab mentality in a nutshell.

        You simply can not imagine that Palestinian Arabs would accept Jewish right for a homeland in Palestine.

        Reply to Comment
        • Eric

          “You simply can not imagine that Palestinian Arabs would accept Jewish right for a homeland in Palestine.”

          Counter-Question: When will Israelis accept a Palestinian state ?

          Reply to Comment
    8. טל סמו

      חגי- מאיפה אתה יודע שהפוסטרים האלו הודבקו על ידי חיילי צה”ל? עשית חקירה מעמיקה? אספת עדויות של תושבים שראו או צילמו חיילים מדביקים אותם? כי אם לא הכותרת של היא פשוט שקרית ומלאת שנאה ומהווה עילה לתביעת דיבה. לתושמת ליבך העיתונאית

      Reply to Comment
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