Erekat accuses Netanyahu of 'pretending to care' for Palestinian children for propaganda purposes

Palestinian dad accused of child abuse fires back at Netanyahu

Father says clip of him shouting at soldiers ‘to shoot’ his 3-year-old was taken out of context, follows years of abuse by IDF

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

A Palestinian father accused by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “inhumane” child abuse fired back on Thursday, accusing the Israeli leader of taking his words out of context and detailing years of alleged maltreatment against him and his family by the Israeli soldiers.

On Wednesday, in a video uploaded to his Facebook, Netanyahu said he was shaken “to his core” by a clip showing a Palestinian father pushing his 3-year-old his son Mohammed toward Israeli soldiers while shouting “shoot him.”

The incident occurred during a protest last week in the West Bank village of Ni’lin, west of Ramallah.

“Today I appeal to every father and mother around the world. I ask you to join me in calling for an end to this abuse of children.” Netanyahu said, adding, “The Palestinian leadership must stop encouraging children to kill. They must stop encouraging Palestinian parents to call for the death of their own children. It’s horrendous!”

To counter Netanyahu’s video, on Thursday, the Palestine Liberation Organization published a video testimony from the allegedly abusive father.

In the video, 45-year-old Ayoub Sroor said the incident was “a moment of helplessness with the protection of cameras and a media presence.”

“When I saw the army’s guns pointed at the little children, I told them: Here’s the boy if you want to kill little children,” Sroor said.

“[Netanyahu’s] video only showed a bit of what I said. They should have shown what happened before I told them to ‘shoot him,’ and what happened afterward,” Sroor said, alleging the Israeli prime minister had taken his words out of context.

In the video, Sroor detailed alleged abuse at the hands of the Israeli army, including the seizure of 37 acres of his land with the building of the West Bank security barrier and a 2008 assault that he said caused him memory loss for six months. In the clip, Muhammad Sroor is also made to tell how his two brothers were once shot by Israeli forces.

A second video clip provided by the PLO allegedly shows what looks to be physical abuse of Sroor along with another young man who were blindfolded and handcuffed during a 2012 protest in Ni’lin.

Netanyahu ‘pretends’ to care for Palestinian children

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat on Thursday accused Netanyahu of “pretending to care” for Palestinian children for propaganda purposes.

“Through seconds in a video, Netanyahu justifies the racist narrative that Palestinians are to blame, rather than Israel’s military machine and armed settlers that exercise violence and oppression against the land and people of Palestine,” Erekat charged.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat at a press conference following an emergency meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014 (AP/Amr Nabil)
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat at a press conference following an emergency meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, August 11, 2014 (AP/Amr Nabil)

“Blaming the Palestinians, and pretending to care about our children, is not only cheap but disingenuous coming from the same government that continues to use every opportunity to violate the rights of Palestinian children, including their fundamental right to a dignified life,” Erekat added.

Erekat wrote that the Palestinians have a “clear and firm” position not to involve children in demonstrations.

Despite this official stance, children often appear at weekly demonstrations against Israeli policies in the West Bank.

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