A newly-published video shows an Israeli soldier striking a Palestinian child in the head with his gun, during a settler procession in Hebron, the occupied West Bank.
The video, published by Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem and recorded by one of its volunteers, shows Israeli occupation forces confronting Palestinian residents in Hebron’s Old City, on 11 November, as Israeli settlers marched nearby.
“The procession runs through the heart of Hebron’s Old City and to allow it, the Israeli military restricts Palestinian movement in the area and disrupts daily life,” B’Tselem explained.
“On this day too, soldiers and Border Police officers shut down stores and streets along the route of the procession”.
Ahmad Hudeib, 16, a resident of ‘Aqbat Tafuh, a village that lies west of Hebron, works in one of the stores that were shut down, and that morning, he sat with his friends who work in nearby stores and watched the marching settlers.
“The settlers reached the turn onto Beer a-Sabe’ Street, and some of them tried to take down Palestinian flags that were hanging on the doors of some stores,” the teen told B’Tselem.
“We started whistling and yelling. We didn’t do anything else. The soldiers started coming towards us. One of them got really angry and tried to kick us out of there. He pushed me and I pushed him back. Then he hit me on the head with the butt of his rifle. I started bleeding.”
According to B’Tselem, “this incident is not unusual”.
“Enforcement of the occupation involves routine use of violence by Israeli security forces against Palestinians. This reality is accepted and enabled by top Israeli members of government and military officers, despite the occasional would-be denouncement of such acts.”
The NGO added: “The violence described above is not limited to the beating of a Palestinian minor. It is also manifested in extreme restrictions that the military imposes on Palestinian movement in Hebron, disrupting the daily lives of Palestinian residents to accommodate the settlers.”
For years, Israel has preferred the settlers’ interests over the rights of Palestinian residents in Hebron.
“Its authorities openly pursue a policy based on the ‘separation principle’, enforcing physical and legal segregation between the settlers and the Palestinian residents in the city.”
An Israeli army spokesperson, in a statement to Haaretz, claimed that “the video documents only partially a confrontation between a Palestinian who participated in the demonstration and one of the soldiers”, adding that “the incident will be investigated by the commanders of the soldier”.