The Israeli military has employed the use of a new tactic to abuse Palestinians living in the West Bank. Real-time footage reveals soldiers entering into homes in the middle of the night for the sole purpose of ‘taking photographs of youth above the age of ten’. The soldiers defend their positions, claiming that the photographs will help them identify future threats. This intrusive strategy, however, highlights the oppressive nature of the occupation as it has existed for the last six decades.
The footage, captured by Palestinians using cameras distributed to them as part of B’Tselem’s camera distribution project, was first aired on Channel 10 News and rebroadcast through B’Tselem’s website. The Israel-based human rights group quickly denounced the systematic abuse of the families involved, particularly the children. Since the raids, as well as any subsequent arrests, occur only under the cover of darkness, the children are forced to wake to the sight of Israeli soldiers harassing them and their respective families.
The Israeli military contends that these new practices are necessary to ensure the safety of Israeli operations in the future. According to military sources, the photographs taken by the soldiers are later used to identify children throwing stones at Israeli soldiers and military vehicles. If there’s a match, the child is carted off to jail where he’ll either be given a six-month sentence or forced to remain in jail without prosecution. The child on the right at 2:11 in the video was eventually arrested by the soldiers and, according to B’Tselem, remains detained in an Israeli jail without being sentenced or even charged. He is only 14 years old.
This new strategy holds no other purpose than to harass Palestinians as much as possible. Realistically, the pictures can be taken any time during the early daylight hours, for example. It is this form of collective, nondiscretionary, and unnecessary abuse that proves to instigate tension and hostility between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians. This is not to discount the personal effect the trauma has on the children.
The Israeli military isn’t known for being the most humane military force in the region. Even though the harassment fits the pattern of Israel’s military engagements, it stands in clear violation of the ethics of life, liberty, self-determination, and individual resistance to foreign occupation. The public might hail the army for swapping their guns with cameras but this is nothing short of naïve admiration for a backwards and hypocritical attempt at humanism.
Since January 2011, there have been at least four reported cases where abuses like this have happened but these numbers are expected to increase now that the strategy – albeit unjust and unnecessary – has been put into action.