Israeli army arrests five Palestinian children in West Bank
Israeli soldiers arrested five Palestinian children between the ages of eight and 12 on Wednesday in the West Bank village of Al-Rakiz, activists have said.
The youths were detained as they were picking akoub, an edible plant used in Palestinian cooking close to an illegal Israeli settlement, according to the Palestinian WAFA news agency.
Settlers initially chased the children away before security forces arrived and held them at a local police station in the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, the agency reported.
Israeli human rights group B'Tselem published a video of the incident on Twitter showing the soldiers apprehending the boys. One of them is seen breaking into tears as he is detained.
As the soldiers detained the children, an adult is heard shouting: "Are you embarrassed to arrest children? This is criminal work."
The Israeli army said it received reports that the boys had trespassed into a backyard and were attempting to steal parrots.
B'Tselem activists who were at the scene say the children were foraging for plants and were only carrying the pails of akoub when they were apprehended.
Israeli police denied that the children were under arrest and were being kept at the station amid efforts to contact their parents, according to The Jerusalem Post.
A father of one of the children said he was made to wait for hours outside the police station as his child remained inside.
Meanwhile, Israeli settlers stormed ancient Islamic sites in the town of Kifl Haris, north of the West Bank city of Salfit, in raids that began on Wednesday night and continued until dawn, local media have reported.
Sources said that Israeli forces closed entrances and exits to the town to Palestinians as settlers charged into the area and desecrated the Prophet Thu Al-Kifl, Prophet Thu An-Noon and Prophet Yosha shrines, WAFA news agency reported.
It came hours after Israeli forces arrested Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the current preacher of Al-Aqsa Mosque, while an extremist rabbi stormed the holy site.