I remember going to bed at about 11 pm in our house on Andrew Crescent in peaceful St. Albert, Alberta and drifting into my nightly dreams. My dream that night was that the United States was disputing the location of the border between Alberta and Montana and wanted to push it to the north for some reason.
At about midnight, the dream included a loud blast outside my front door – someone had tossed a sound bomb at the house. Looking out the window, I saw about 30 military vehicles and close to 200 soldiers on the street. People on the crescent were venturing outside to see what was going on – the soldiers yelled at us to shut up and get back inside. Looking out my window I spotted Braden, my neighbor’s 14 year old son, being led from his house to a truck out front. Braden was crying, blindfolded and had his hands cuffed behind his back with a zip tie – his wrists are already bleeding as they were bound too tight. I looked down the street the other direction and saw Brody, another neighbor’s 15 year old kid, similarly being led out of his house – his parents were following behind pleading with the soldiers. All the soldiers had their faces either painted or covered with balaclavas. The soldiers provided the parents with no explanation of the charges, did not allow the parents to accompany their children and did not provide any details as to where their children were being taken. In an open doorway across the street, I saw two very young children crying – they did not understand what was going as their siblings were forcibly being taken away, why their parents were in obvious fear and why their house was being trashed by soldiers.
This scene continued around the crescent until about 6:00 am when the military finally left with a total of 11 arrested children.
I awaken and find myself in my bed in Bethlehem in the West Bank of Palestine. It was not a dream – it was real. Instead of Andrew Crescent in St Albert, the event occurred on December 3, 2014 in the Alomor section in the Village of Tuqu’. The American soldiers (thankfully not interested in our southern prairie real estate) are in fact an Israeli contingent of about 200 police, border police and soldiers. The 11 youth are real as are the accepted international laws that should prevent an abuse such as this. While Israel treats its own children in the juvenile court system, for the past 47 years they have treated Palestinian children under military law. This is a “fluid” system of laws that can be created, modified and generally manipulated to suit the needs and desires of the military simply by issuing a “Military Order”.
“The arrest and transfer process is often accompanied by verbal abuse and humiliation, threats as well as physical violence. Hours later the children find themselves in an interrogation room, sleep deprived and scared.”
“Most children undergo coercive interrogation, mixing verbal abuse, threats, and physical violence, generally resulting in a confession. The most common offence children confess to is throwing stones……in most cases, the children are either shown, or made to sign, documentation written in Hebrew, a language they do not understand.” (Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted, Children held in military detention – Defence for Children International
The Israeli government and the majority of the international media typically use the term “terrorism” for the select stories of violence against Israel that are fed to the world. Unfortunately, a story of the arrest of 11 Palestinian children is not considered “news” by either Israel or the international media so most in the world will never learn of this horrible practice.
What and who then defines terrorism? Is the event I just shared not an act of terrorism? At worst, some these children/youth may have thrown stones at some soldiers or the local settlers – both who are illegally occupying Palestinian land and who simply should not be anywhere near the Village of Tuqu’. The local civilian settlers can openly carry assault weapons (and use them with all but full immunity from the justice system) and soldiers can and do use sound bombs, tear gas and live ammunition as they feel fit against Palestinian children. Is this not terrorism?
After our interview with some of the witnesses in Tuqu’, our departing taxi was stopped at a “flying” checkpoint nearby. As one young soldier demanded that our driver translate to English an Arabic message that was on a printed leaflet, the other soldier had an assault rifle levelled at me. The written message generally advised that this checkpoint and inconvenience was to “protect the community against terrorists”…….
As I stared up the barrel of the soldier’s Tavor assault rifle, my understanding of who was responsible for the terror remained firm.