West Bank demonstrators, like the
Palestinian intifada before them,
find crying children to be an effective weapon.
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t was a scene that I
won't soon forget," said
the young soldier.
"People lying on the
ground, little children
wailing, and us facing
them, standing there
with our weapons, wait-
ing for the order to re-
move them by force."
The past week of mass
attempts to set up "new
settlements" on barren
hilltops in West Bank
(which are really non-li-
has cast up such a welter
of issues that it's often
hard for the Israeli pub-
lic to rank its priorities.
The latest wave of
protests is the settlers' at-
tempt to bring the nego-
tiations on the Interim
Agreement in the West
Bank to a halt — or at
least slow them down.
But as so often happens A young settler watches soldiers march up the hill
when the settlers lock to disband the demonstration.
horns with the authori-
was probably what angered gov-
ties, issues of substance have a ernment officials most of all.
way of getting lost in the debate "Dragging children, who have no
over questions of style.
grasp of political issues, onto hill-
The latest manifestation of tops to pit them against soldiers
this, as the demonstrators were is an outrage," snapped Foreign
being removed from their hilltop Minister Shimon Peres. "Parents
strongholds, is the flap over in- have no right to bring children to
volving children, including in- such events."
fants, in political demonstrations.
Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, chair-
High school students are a man of the independent Nation-
common sight at the settlers' al Council for the Child, is equally
marches and rallies; in fact, they emphatic on this issue. "Our po-
often make up the body of pro- sition is that it's absolutely un-
testers. But now, day after day, acceptable to bring children to a
Israelis have been treated to demonstration of any kind," he
scenes of a different kind: small stated. "Unfortunately, not only
children, bawling in terror, as has it become fashionable to in-
they and their parents are led, volve children in protests but
carried, or dragged away by public relations advisers encour-
equally distraught soldiers.
age people to do so because it
In one immortal shot, a `photographs well.' But we regard
woman seated on the ground it as a cynical exploitation of chil-
clasped an infant to her breast as dren for adult goals."
two female soldiers tried to cajole
Demonstrators see the matter
her into standing up and being very differently, however.
led away. During one of last
"Of course we were concerned
week's demonstrations, a num- that things might get rough out
ber of children required infusions there," said Eve Harrow, one of
for dehydration after spending the leaders of the protest by set-
hours in the blazing sun. At an- tlers from Efrat. "But if we don't
other, youngsters formed a line stop the way things are going, in
to pass stones (which were used a few months our kids will be fac-
to form a barricade against the ing Palestinian policemen — and
advancing troops) while their el- everyone knows how they'll be
ders burned tires nearby.
treated then. Better the trauma
The associations with the of being carried away by a soldier
Palestinian intifada could not now than facing a catastrophe
have been more obvious, which later."
INA FRIEDMAN ISRAEL CORRESPONDENT