Israeli Military Holds Bus Full of Children for Over an Hour in Beit Ommar

23 April 2009

beit-ommar-04_22_09-gOn the 22nd of April at approximately 8pm, Israeli soldiers stopped a bus of 40 boys between the ages of 8 and 11 near the entrance to Beit Ommar. The boys had been on a school trip to Jericho and were returning home to their village when they were stopped by Israeli forces. Soldiers took the ID of the bus driver and ordered all of the boys to leave the bus and stand in a line facing a wall. beit-ommar-04_22_09-2Concerned Palestinian parents, other residents, and two international solidarity activists with PSP, soon arrived at the scene to try to negotiate with the soldiers to let the children leave. Soldiers told this group that the children were being held until a youth who had allegedly thrown a stone at the soldiers from the bus was turned in. The entire group was held and adults were told that the children, who had been up since 6am, would be held “all night” if need be.
After about an hour, the children were allowed back onto the bus but the bus driver was still prevented from leaving and family members were prohibited from taking their children home. Finally at approximately 9:30pm, one and a half hours later, the bus was allowed to enter the village. Additionally, one resident of Beit Ommar was also pulled over by soldiers in his car. His car keys were confiscated by the soldiers without explanation. After an international solidarity activist complained to the soldiers, his car keys were returned. Israeli forces periodically confiscate the car keys of Beit Ommar residents, often never returning them.
This incident, while extreme due to the age of the boys held, is only one example of the routine harassment Palestinian residents have been subjected to in recent months, particularly near the entrance to the village where Israeli soldiers have been beating, intimidating, and otherwise humiliating Palestinian residents on their way home.