West Bank (In Palestine Today)-Israeli forces stormed a Palestinian home in a night raid in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, pulled 13 young children out of bed and photographed them without their consent while they were trembling and half-asleep, Israeli rights group B’Tselem revealed on Wednesday.
A shocking video released by B’Tselem showed sleepy Palestinian children in their pyjamas, some rubbing their eyes and others crying, standing in the Da’na family home, while heavily armed Israeli soldiers shouted orders at their parents to direct the children to the balcony to photograph them.
In the video, filmed by a B’Tselem volunteer on 3 September, one of the Israeli soldiers is heard asking the children to smile and “Say cheese” before taking their picture – while an adult from the Da’na family tells the children not to “Say cheese”, objects to the Israeli soldier and tells him that “you woke them up and terrified them”.
The 13 children have been identified as ranging in age from kindergarten to elementary school. Israeli soldiers can be heard in the video saying that they were taking photographs of the minors following an incident of stone-throwing at the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba on the outskirts of Hebron.
The Da’na family lives in the H1 area of Hebron, which is under full control of the Israeli military and settlers. Hebron is the only place in the West Bank where Israeli settlers live in the heart of a Palestinian city. Palestinian residents of Hebron are subjected to heavy restrictions on movement, the constant presence of Israeli armed forces, and longstanding efforts to forcibly displace Palestinian residents out of the Old City.
In a statement, B’Tselem said the video showed “how the routine of Palestinian subjects living under the occupation is disturbed arbitrarily and how easily soldiers violate their rights.
“It seems that for the military, all Palestinians, including school-age children, are potential offenders. At any time, it is permissible to wake them up at night, enter their homes and subject them to a lineup,” B’Tselem added.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz noted that it is illegal for Israeli soldiers to photograph minors.
Israeli forces carry out night-time raids on a near-daily basis in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Some of these raids are part of a policy of “intelligence mapping”, whereby Israeli forces storm Palestinian houses to inspect them and record the names and faces of the residents.
These raids are video recorded, and Palestinians are photographed as part of Israeli mass surveillance over Palestinians.
Last week, the Washington Post revealed Israel’s Blue Wolf, a facial recognition technology that alerts soldiers at checkpoints to detain suspects. Israeli soldiers used the Blue Wolf to take photographs of Palestinians passing through checkpoints and upload them onto Israel’s database – described by a former soldier as the army’s “Facebook for Palestinians”.
Earlier this week, a former member of the Israeli Army’s elite signals intelligence unit 8200 told Middle East Eye that Israel could listen to every telephone conversation taking place in the West Bank and Gaza.