Stealing toys from kids: a pastime favoured of playground bullies that’s unlikely to get you much love from the YouTube viewing public.
But it’s also apparently now a tactic of the IDF, according to a video released by Israeli NGO B’Tselem today.
The clip, filmed in the West Bank city of Hebron, shows a soldier seizing a tricycle from a young girl as she plays in the street, then apparently walking off and disposing it in a bush after the child runs away.
The girl, eight year old Anwar Burqan, says she was playing with her 11-year-old sister and seven and four year old brothers on al-Ibrahimi Street, which is partially closed to Palestinians in Hebron. As the video begins, she is being chased by an Israeli soldier who then stands over her and tells her to go home. As the little girl runs away crying, the soldier takes her bicycle and is later filmed throwing it into the bushes.
The area where the incident took place is at the heart of Hebron, a city that’s been riven by Israel’s settlement project. Today, the centre of the majority Arab city is controlled by Israeli authorities and filled with settlement homes, and streets that are off-limits to Palestinians. The al-Ibrahimi street, where Anwar and her siblings were playing, has a chain link fence running through the middle, splitting the road into two sides – one for Jews and one for Arabs.
Israel says that the separation is to guarantee the safety of settlers. Palestinians argue that according the international law, they shouldn’t be there anyway – and say the status quo is destroying the city. It means many Hebronites find it difficult to reach their homes easily, or have to pass through checkpoints. They contend with armed – and potentially deadly – soldiers on a daily basis and many have seen all or parts of their homes confiscated.
Anwar told B’Tselem that her and her siblings play out in the street because their yard was cut off by the fence built on al-Ibrahimi street. But after today, it’s likely that the public areas of Hebron will seem a much scarier place to these kids.
The Israel Defence Forces could not be reached for comment on the incident.
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