Muhammad Rabiaa Elayyan, a resident of East Jerusalem village of Issawiya was taken by his father Rabiaa to the police station Tuesday after being handed a warrant.
“This morning I said to my child Muhammad ‘I will take you to a swimming trip’. I could not explain what happened. We were surprised when the soldiers were stationed in front of the police station on Salah Eddin Street,” the father said.
A video by Wadi Hilweh Information Center- a Silwan-based watchdog showing the minor crying while dozens of Issawiya residents gathered in front of the police station in protest.
The father was interrogated briefly without his son before being released. Local media reported that the warrant was issued for Muhammed but it was for both father and son.
“They sent a warrant to summon both the father and the son,” Elayyan told Middle East Eye. “Today, when we went to [the police station], they denied that there was a warrant for the son and that only the father had been summoned. They saw the media attention and that it would become a scandal for them, so they retracted.”
The police told him during interrogation to “confine the boy to the house” adding that the police “made a mistake. They’ve just sent a message of terrorizing young children, of making them scared.”
Wadi Hilweh Information Center's video on Muhammed's interrogation
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) condemned the act by Israeli police while criticizing the international community for their silence.
The PLO Civil Society and Human Rights Department issued a press release saying that Israel was only able to summon a child for interrogation because of “U.S. support and the international community’s silence on the practices of this outlaw entity-in reference to Israel.”
The PLO said that Israel did this to “terrorize the Palestinian people and convey the message that none, even the United Nations, the UN Security Council, and all other UN organizations, can protect Palestinians from the brutality of the Israeli occupation.”
Israel behaves like it is immune from international laws and “legalizes terrorism and criminality worldwide and normalizes the violation of international conventions,” the Palestinian umbrella organization warned.
Under Israeli law, Palestinian children as young as 12 can be accused and charged of criminal offenses. However, the Defense for Children International - Palestine (DCIP) said Palestinian children younger than 12 have been detained and interrogated by Israeli forces. These do not generally go through the formal process, hence there is no comprehensive data of the frequency of these occurrences.
Residents of Issawiya believe that Muhammed’s summoning was a tactic to terrorize the villagers which have been under brutal crackdown since mid-June especially after the murder of 20-year-old Mohammed Samir Obeid by firing live ammunition at his chest.
The residents are also constantly harassed by Israeli forces and subjected to frequent raids, and demolitions.
Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem said the four-year-old’s summon is “an inseparable part of Israel’s policy in East Jerusalem pursued with the objective of securing a demographic majority for Jews in the city. This goal is pursued in part by devoting resources and efforts to making life in the city unbearable for Palestinians, so that they will leave, ostensibly of their own will”.