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Israeli police round up Palestinian youths, disregard their own laws, says rights report

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Ammar Awad/Reuters

(Read caption) A Palestinian youth uses a slingshot during clashes with Israeli security forces in the mostly Arab neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem December 10.

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Israeli police are systematically interrogating Palestinian children as young as eight in an attempt to quell stone-throwing in East Jerusalem’s most volatile neighborhood, according to a new report by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.

The report corroborates an Oct. 29 Monitor story describing Israeli arrests of minors in Silwan, but also gives a firmer outline of the scope and nature of such arrests. At least 81 minors have been arrested or detained on suspicion of stone-throwing in the past year, nearly half of them since a fatal September scuffle between Palestinian residents and a security guard for Jewish families in the area, B’Tselem said.

Some families were made to sign papers that said they'd be liable to pay Israel $1,300 if their children were proven to have thrown stones. B'Tselem calls that an "especially high fine" and says the tactic was used during the first Palestinian intifada in the late 1980s as a deterrent.

Volatile neighborhood

B'Tselem reported that 1,267 criminal files were opened against Palestinian minors in East Jerusalem from Nov. 1, 2009, to Oct. 26, 2010, but that does not include Israeli detentions that did not lead to the opening of a criminal file – a statistic Israeli police said they could not give the organization.

But the report focused mainly on the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, which sits in the shadow of the Temple Mount and is emblematic of an intensifying Israeli-Arab struggle for sovereignty in Jerusalem.

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