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Mar 24, 10:17 AM EDT

Israeli rights group video: Troops question Palestinian boy


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JERUSALEM (AP) -- An Israeli rights group has released an amateur video of Israeli soldiers surrounding and questioning a terrified 8-year-old Palestinian boy in the tense West Bank city of Hebron.

The group B'Tselem, which posted the video, said the soldiers led Sufian Abu Hitah around the neighborhood to identify other boys whom they suspected of having thrown stones and a firebomb at a nearby Jewish settlement.

At one point, he is seen being led through a Hebron street surrounded by seven soldiers. Eventually, several Palestinian women approach, a shouting match ensues and they walk away with the boy.

On the video, the boy is heard telling the soldiers in Arabic, "Which boy? I don't know who he is." Later, one soldier leads him up an outside staircase of a building and they walk around the roof.

The military denied Friday that the boy was asked to identify suspects in Sunday's incident.

It said a firebomb was thrown at the settlement and that Israeli forces caught a suspect. It said that "due to the fact the suspect was a minor he was taken to his parents' home."

The military did not respond to further questions, including whether it was referring to Sufian.

The boy's mother, Amani, told B'Tselem that she asked a soldier to return her son, but he refused.

"I was really scared and worried about Sufian," she said. "I started crying and ran after the soldiers as they moved from house to house, to try and get them to let him go."

Hebron, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank, has been a flashpoint for decades, including in the recent wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

The city is divided, with about 850 Israeli settlers living in heavily-guarded enclaves in an Israeli-controlled center while the rest of the area is under Palestinian self-rule, making it the only Palestinian population center in the West Bank with a major Israeli army presence. Friction is amplified by what Palestinians and Israeli rights activists say is systematic harassment by settlers.

The biblical city is home to a holy site known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque.

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