Israeli soldiers were conducting a raid on the home of the Jaber family in the Silwan neighborhood in order to search for an individual suspected of throwing rocks at them from the roof, the family told Ma’an.
When the soldiers ascended to the roof to detain the alleged culprit, however, they found a two-year-old named Mimati Asaad Jaber who was playing with his mother. While they were playing, apparently, a rock had fallen into the street below.
The boy’s grandfather, who was in the house during the raid, said that the boy was only playing and that he did not know there were soldiers in the street below the building when he tossed the stone.
Upon seeing the two-year-old with his mother, however, the Israeli soldiers shifted their attention to a nine-year-old member of the family nearby.
Members of the Jaber family told Ma’an that once Israeli soldiers found out the nine-year-old boy’s name — Izz al-Din al-Qassam, also the name of a famous Palestinian national hero and used by Hamas as the name for its military brigades — they began questioning him.
The Israeli soldiers attempted to detain the nine-year-old boy based on the fact that he had “colored rocks” in his pockets, presumably to throw at soldiers, but when they searched the child they found that the “rocks” were in fact candy.
A new draft law being considered by Israeli lawmakers would lead to charges of up to 20 years, even if it could not be proven that rock-throwers intended to cause damage.
A 2011 report by Israeli rights group B’tselem, meanwhile, noted that around 100 percent of all Palestinian children accused of rock-throwing are convicted, largely because minors are kept in prison for the duration of any trial so the pressure to plea bargain is high.
Military Court Watch estimated that at the beginning of October more than 180 Palestinian children and youths were being held in Israeli prisons, down from 250 in June.
According to a 2013 report by the UN’s Children’s Fund, Israel is the only country in the world where children are systematically tried in military courts and subjected to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”
Over the past decade, Israeli forces have arrested, interrogated, and prosecuted around 7,000 children between 12 and 17, mostly boys, at a rate of “an average of two children each day,” UNICEF said.