On March 4, CPTers were at Salaymeh 160 checkpoint monitoring the children leaving schools for home. One soldier, claiming to be “special forces”, was seen running, chasing young children unprovoked, aged 6/7yrs old through the streets.
Additionally, the soldier continually harrased other Palestinian community members. At one point, he aggresively brandished his firearm in a threatening manner at a Palestinian man who was carrying about 5 bags of onions. The Palestinian man was crossing the gate normally utilized for vehicles, bicyles, or any other items that can’t fit through the other small entry point. He was told by another soldier that he could place his bags down across the vehicle gate before going through the the other small entry point. At that point, the “special forces” soldiers ran down and brandished his weapon. Ultimately, the man was denied entry through the checkpoint without a reason.
Furthermore, the checkpoint was repeatedly closed or delayed without reason. Thus, children were waiting at the entrance of the checkpoint to return home from school, the elderly to go about their daily buisness, and other adults as well.
This aggressive and bullying behavior continued until the next day when soldiers fired tear gas into the premises of the schools.
While CPTers were documenting these events, three heavily armed soldiers approached, threatening to break the camera and arrest them if they didn’t show them their cameras and personal phones .
Moreover, the same bullying behavior happened on the day before on March 3rd when 7 soldiers began to walk towards the schools and suddenly started running towards the kids unprovoked.
In the past two weeks, CPT has witnessed 19 children being denied entry, 5 children having their bags searched, 1 tear gas canister fired near a school, checkpoints being closed for at least a total of 1 hour and 20 minutes, and although CPTers did not witness it, two children being arrested and held for one hour.
The behaviour of the Israeli occupying forces (IOF) described here raises questions that are important for helping us to grasp the nature of the oppression being inflicted on the Palestinians and the ideology behind it.
1. Why would the soldiers chase children without visible provocation?
2. Why would they then express a wish to break the camera after being seen?
The IOF justify such behaviour in the name of Israels’ immoral, secular- and religious-zionist colonialist ideology. An ideology that does not value the lives of Palestinians and that continues to destroy the property, and to steal their lands, as a legalised, and official, Israel-State national value. Their reaction, to break the camera, and to hide their behaviour, reveals much. They actually know this behaviour, and the occupation, is regarded as immoral, that is, unjust and a form of collective punishment and violation of human rights, that is illegal under international law?