Qusai al-Ja’ar, 10, lives with his family in the neighborhood of a-Zaher in Beit Ummar, a Palestinian village located north of Hebron. On Friday, 18 October 2019, in the early evening, Qusai was helping his father bring down some leftover concrete from the roof of the family’s one-story home. His cousin, Rami ‘Alami, 17, was helping them.
While the three were transporting the waste using Qusai’s bicycle, two masked children ran past them. A few minutes later, at around 6:00 P.M., a military jeep suddenly stopped in front of the family home. Four soldiers got out and two of them walked towards Qusai. One grabbed him by the shirt and dragged him towards the jeep, without saying a word. Qusai’s father, Ibrahim, 31, jumped down from the roof immediately and tried to convince the soldiers to let his son go. One of the soldiers fired a single shot in the air. Qusai’s mother, Khitam, 29, and other relatives tried to intervene, but the soldiers shoved them and did not let them get close to Qusai. The soldiers threw stun grenades and tear gas canisters, and one fired another shot in the air.
The soldiers then handcuffed and blindfolded Qusai inside the jeep, and drove him to a military post in the settlement of Carmei Tzur, about 150 meters from his home. The soldiers had the boy sit on a chair in the yard. His father arrived a few minutes later, and the soldiers let him in. Ibrahim al-Ja’ar stood next to his son while a soldier asked him about his friends and the two masked children who had run along the road earlier. The soldier asked the father about the two children, as well. At 9:30 P.M., after more than three hours, the soldiers let Qusai go and he returned home with his father.
B'Tselem has documented previous incidents in which Israeli armed forces unlawfully detained Palestinian children below the age of criminal liability. Detaining a ten-year-old, handcuffed and blindfolded, for any amount of time, is inconceivable, whether he threw stones or not. The treatment of ten-year-old Qusai from Beit Ummar is yet another instance of the daily routine of control and oppression that Israel imposes on all Palestinians in the West Bank, as part of its occupation regime.
In a testimony he gave to B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash on 21 October 2019, Ibrahim al-Ja’ar described what happened to his son:
I was working on the roof of the house when I saw two masked kids running along the road nearby. I also saw a military jeep driving fast. I assumed it was chasing after them. I kept working, and a few minutes later, the jeep came back and stopped in front of my house. Four soldiers came out. I saw Rami and Qusai, who’d gotten off his bike, standing in front of the house. Two soldiers grabbed Qusai quickly and pushed him into the jeep. As soon as I saw that, I jumped off the roof, and then one of the soldiers fired in the air.
Rami tried to get close to the back of the jeep, and then one of the soldiers kicked him hard in the stomach and yelled at him. I pulled Rami away and tried to calm him down. I tried telling the two soldiers that Qusai had been working with me and helping me, and asked them to let him go. The soldier told me, in Hebrew, to shut up and move away. My wife and a few neighbors hurried over. My wife started crying and asking the soldiers to let Qusai go. They ignored her and threw stun grenades and teargas canisters. My wife and I tried to get to the jeep a few times until one of the soldiers fired in the air. The soldiers then got into the jeep and drove towards the nearby settlement of Carmei Tzur.
I drove after them with my two brothers, Mahmoud, 34, and Maher, 52. When we got there, at about 6:30, they let only me in to where Qusai was being held. They left my brothers outside. When I went in, I saw Qusai sitting on a chair with a blindfold over his forehead and his hands cuffed. He was scared and crying.
I stood next to Qusai, and another soldier, not one of the ones who had arrested him, interrogated him. I tried to intervene, but the soldier told me to be quiet. He asked Qusai about kids who throw stones. Then he asked me about the two kids who had run past our house before the soldiers took Qusai. I told him I didn’t recognize them. They were both masked.
At around 9:30 P.M., the soldiers let Qusai go, and we went home with my two brothers who had been waiting outside the whole time. Qusai was scared and confused. I tried to calm him down. He had dinner and went to sleep. In the last few days, he’s been waking up scared in the middle of the night, and looking around. We reassure him, and then he goes back to sleep.
In a testimony he gave to B'Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash on 21 October 2019, Qusai al-Ja’ar described what he went through after the soldiers put him in the jeep:
The soldiers got in quickly, and the jeep drove towa the settlement of Carmei Tzur. I was scared and cried the whole way. I told them I hadn’t done anything. One of the soldiers put a cover over my eyes and metal handcuffs on my hands. A few minutes later, they took me out of the jeep and made me sit on a chair next to a guard tower. A soldier came over to me, too the cover off my eyes and started asking me if I’d thrown any stones. I said I hadn’t and that I’d been helping my father.
After about half an hour, my father came and stood next to me. The soldier took the handcuffs off my hands after I told him they were too tight. He asked what my friends’ names where and told me to give him the names of guys who throw stones. I said I didn’t know anyone.
At about 9:30, the soldiers let me go. I went home with my father. I was very tired and went to bed early. I was scared and cried the whole time the soldiers detained me. I only managed to stop crying when my father came.