Video: Border policeman in Hebron cocks weapon and threatens child

Published: 
22 Dec 2011
Updated: 
3 Jan 2013

Update:On 15 January 2013 the MPIU informed B'Tselem that after concluding the investigation, a decision was made to close the case for absence of guilt.

On 26 November 2011, Amin al-Bakri, a resident of Hebron and a volunteer in B'Tselem's camera distribution project, filmed a border policeman cock his weapon and aim it at al-Bakri’s son thirteen year-old son, Muhannad.

Al-Bakri and his family live near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, a densely populated Palestinian area with many checkpoints, most of them staffed by the Border Police. Security forces regularly patrol near the Palestinian homes, creating great tension. Palestinians report long delays at checkpoints and settler attacks against them, sometimes while the security forces stand idly by.



Testimonies from Amin and Muhannad al-Bakri indicate that, late on the afternoon of Saturday, 26 November 2011, Muhannad and his brothers Suhaib, 11, and Yusef, 9, were playing with friends in a yard opposite their house, which is near the Cave of the Patriarchs. Muhannad related that two border policemen who were posted about twenty meters from his house came over to them:

One of the policemen told us his name was Johnny. He pointed to his friend and said his name was Jackson, and then he ordered us to repeat, in a loud voice, their names. My two brothers and the others who were with them repeated the names a few times, but I didn't want to. The policeman asked me why I wasn’t doing like the others. I replied, “Because!”

Shortly after that, Muhannad stated, the policeman demanded that he say the names, loudly. When he refused, the policeman got upset and tried to beat him. When his younger brother Suhaib tried to intervene, the policeman pushed Suhaib and knocked him to the ground. The policeman then grabbed Suhaib and began to beat him, while Muhannad tried to free his brother.

At some point, the children’s father, Amin al-Bakri, heard the commotion and went onto the balcony of his house. He took the video camera B'Tselem had given him as part of its camera project and began to film the incident. According to his testimony, when he saw the border policeman cock his weapon and aim it at his son, he rushed down to the yard. At that point, one of the policemen tried to prevent al-Bakri from filming.

Amin said that, after the incident, the border policemen detained his son Suhaib, took him to the nearby police station, and that he went back to his house to get his ID card and arrived at the station a short time later. “I found Suhaib sitting outside, frightened, crying, and shaking from the cold. I noticed that he had peed in his pants. I sat down next to him and tried to calm him.”

An officer from the Civil Administration took the father and son to the Bab-a-Zawiya checkpoint, where he handed them over to the Palestinian police. According to al-Bakri, the Palestinian policemen demanded that he sign an undertaking to keep his sons from areas where Border Police officers are. He was compelled to sign it, he said, even though the Border Police sit in his yard, and it is impossible to avoid contact with them. Children in the area, he added, are exposed to frequent insults by border policemen who staff the checkpoints at the Cave of the Patriarchs.

On behalf of al-Bakri, B'Tselem wrote to the Department for the Investigation of Police, demanding that it investigate the incident, specifically the suspicions that Border Police officers abused their authority, treated the minors violently, used their weapon unlawfully, and prevented a person from filming, in violation of the regulations. To date (25 December 2011), B'Tselem has not received a reply from DIP.