Israel debates 'child violence' after Palestinians hurt

Bystanders help a Palestinian boy who was hit by a car in Silwan (8 October 2010)

An Israeli parliamentary committee has been debating the issue of the involvement of children in violent activities after two young Palestinian boys were run over and injured by an Israeli right-wing activist.

David Be'eri says he hit the boys because they were throwing stones at him.

Palestinians and human rights groups have criticised his actions.

The incident happened in the East Jerusalem district of Silwan.

The district sees frequent protests by local Palestinians against Jewish families and organisations who have moved into the area.

Mr Be'eri, one of the leading settlers, knocked down and injured the two boys as they threw stones at his car.

Video footage and photographs of the incident appear to show Mr Be'eri's car swerving to the wrong side of the road and accelerating towards the boys - throwing one of them, 11-year-old Amran Mansur, into the air.

Mr Be'eri is the chairman of the right-wing Elad organisation which promotes Jewish settlement in Arab East Jerusalem, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967.

He said his car was surrounded by a crowd of youths with rocks and he only hit them while trying to flee the area in fear of his life.

Mr Be'eri was released on police bail after being questioned.

His supporters in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, said the incident highlighted what they said was the Palestinian tactic of using children to terrorise local communities.

'Hit and run'

The father of one of the boys said his son didn't have time to get out of the way as the car sped towards him and another boy, both of whom needed hospital treatment for their injuries.

Muhammad Mansur said that when he saw the pictures of the boy hitting the car's windscreen, he was amazed his son survived.

The Palestinian Authority condemned what it called a "hit and run crime" and called on Israel to ensure that settlers should not be above the law.

Two weeks ago, a young Palestinian man was killed in Silwan by an Israeli security guard, who was later released.

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