JERUSALEM: The iconic image of a blindfolded 16-year-old Fawzi al Junaidi being manhandled by Israeli soldiers has become a symbol of ongoing protests against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
On Thursday, Junaidi, 16, was detained during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron (Al-Khalil) and dragged away blindfolded by dozens of Israeli soldiers. The image has become one of the iconic images against the Trump’s decision.
Speaking to a Anadolu news agency, Junaidi’s uncle Rashad al Junaidi said his nephew had been accidentally detained while grocery shopping for his family. “He was badly beaten and detained by Israeli soldiers,” he said.
Junaidi said that his nephew was the sole breadwinner for his seven-member family. “He had to drop out of school and find work to meet his family’s needs,” he said and urged the Palestinian authorities and human rights groups to help secure the young man’s release.
On Monday, the uncle said his nephew’s detention period had been extended for three days by a court at Israel’s Ofer Military Prison. He said that his nephew was now slated to appear in court again on Thursday (today).
Tension has mounted across the Palestinian territories since Trump officially recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last Wednesday, drawing condemnations from across the Arab and Muslim world. Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem – now occupied by Israel – might eventually serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.
Wesam al-Hashlamon, a photographer who captured al Junaidi’s arrest on camera, said that scores of Israeli soldiers had managed to ambush stone-throwing Palestinian youth in central Hebron. “As the boy passed by, he was detained and badly beaten by soldiers,” he said. “They threw him to the ground, put their boots on his body and blindfolded him before taking him into custody.”
Khalid Kazmar, director of the Palestinian branch of the Movement for the Protection of the World’s Children, decried Israel’s policy of detaining Palestinian minors. “Hundreds of children have been detained by the Israeli army this year, mostly in Jerusalem,” he said. “Most of them were released shortly afterward.”
According to the Palestinian Prisoners Society, a local NGO, some 300 children are currently languishing in Israeli prisons. Kazmar said that as many as 700 Palestinian children had been tried in Israeli military courts this year alone. “Israel is the only country in the world where children are tried in military courts,” he asserted.
“Those Palestinian children are subject to detention and torture is a crime against humanity under international law,” Kazmar added.