Israeli Police Claim Video of Crying Palestinian Boy Was StagedBy ROBERT MACKEY
Israel’s border police force insisted in a statement on Thursday that video of a 5-year-old Palestinian boy reacting with dismay to the arrest of his father this week in the West Bank, which has been broadcast internationally, was staged.
The video, embedded below, was shot near Hebron on Monday as the boy, Khaled Jaber, watched Israeli officers detain his father for illegally tapping into water pipes meant to serve Israeli settlers and soldiers to irrigate his family’s crops.
While the Jaber family told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that the boy’s grief was spontaneous, the border police said, “the family chose to make cynical use of a 5-year-old boy” who had been “well instructed and directed.”
The official statement added:
Instead of the family acting responsibly toward a child and removing him from the situation, they chose to make cheap anti-Israel propaganda, whose sole purpose is to present us in a negative light around the world. As is seen in the pictures, and in order to remove any doubt, the authorities on site acted lawfully against the unacceptable phenomenon of water theft.
Some Israelis and their supporters have suggested for years that video that might attract sympathy for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation is routinely staged and dismissed such scenes as “Pallywood” productions.
The police said the arrests were made “for disturbing the peace and attacking police” officers during “enforcement activities against water thieves in the southern Hebron Hills.”
After visiting the same area of the West Bank this week, the Israeli journalist and blogger Noam Sheizaf wrote:
It was a very hot day — the last weeks have been the hottest we knew this year — and a local Palestinian farmer told us of his water problem. Israel has constructed water pipes in the area, but they only serve the army and the settlers. The Palestinians are forced to drive to the closest town and buy their water in tanks over there. They end up paying 10 times the price I pay in Tel Aviv. And the farmers in South Mount Hebron are the poorest of the Palestinian population. They live in tents, some even in caves. They used to have water holes in which they stored rain waters, but access to their fields and to many of the holes in them is denied by the army and the settlers.
With no other option, some farmers were forced to use unauthorized connections to the Israeli water system, running just a few meters from their tents. The Israeli media is calling this “stealing water.”
Mr. Sheizaf also pointed to a recent article on the Israeli site Ynet News, headlined “Palestinians Stealing Water in West Bank,” about efforts to protect Israeli water pipes running through occupied Palestinian territory. Last month, Yigal Klein, a leader of one settlement, told Ynet:
The Palestinians are connecting to the pipes with trucks or via an illegal system of pipes, and we don’t have water in the morning. Children want to wash their faces before they go to school, and the faucets are empty. Even a cup of coffee becomes a rare commodity.