Late Monday afternoon an MPTer, observed a group of 4 teenage boys, standing and quietly chatting by the side of the main road in Huwwara. A passing Israeli Occupation Forces [IOF] jeep pulled up and soldiers demanded their IDs. Three of the boys presented their IDs , one did not. An adult nearby, perhaps a relative, asked that this boy might go home for his ID. The MPTer moved closer to the jeep and inquired as to why the boys were being detained. One soldier responded that they could be dangerous. After being ordered back in the jeep to get their helmets, two soldiers with automatic weapons stood outside the jeep .
The IOF held the three boys’ IDs for some time, so the MPTer asked the soldiers why the IDs were being retained making boys wait. No response was given, but in a few minutes the IDs were returned and the 3 detained boys left. Soon the youth who had gone home for his ID returned on his bike. He handed the soldiers his ID which was returned rather quickly. All the youths' IDs were checked off a list by the jeep driver and all names were phoned in.
The MPTer stepped back and with care took pictures. A Palestinian said to be careful and there was no reason to escalate the situation. Taking pictures can help the soldiers conduct themselves better, but it can make the scene worse for the Palestinians.
There had been a harsh night raid into several homes in the Huwwara village over a week ago in which 7 teenage boys were taken by Israeli soldiers, so the youth had reason to worry when they were detained. Perhaps under pressure and from fear, those detained in the night raid may had given names of other youth, friends of theirs. Being a teenage Palestinian boy is often reason enough for arrest by the Israeli military. These teenagers did not know what the results of their detention by the IOF might be. The IOF has the free hand of a military occupier and can arrest and jail young Palestinian men.
This afternoon's incident lasted about 20 minutes and no one was arrested. It could have lasted hours with all being held in a detention center and later imprisoned with no explanation. So these Huwwara youth struck it lucky this afternoon.
Did MPT presence make a difference? It may have prevented a longer detention period or arrests.
These kinds of night raids and the arresting of teenage boys are increasing all over Palestine. There are some who think the reason for this action is to provoke violent responses from Palestinians so that there would be an excuse for very large attacks by the IOF. The responses of the Palestinians so far have been creative and non-violent. One Palestinian told an MPTer today that he does not understand that when Palestinians respond with good will and kindness to Israelis that they do not return that to them.