One Israeli human rights group said the incident illustrates “how arbitrarily the routine of the lives of Palestinians living under occupation is disrupted, and how easily soldiers violate their rights.”

By Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams

Human rights groups this week reacted with outrage to video footage showing Israeli troops forcing Palestinian children from their slumber and photographing them outside their family home—an act that Israel’s military admits was “not proper.”

The footage, first published Wednesday by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, captures an incident that occurred on September 3 in the unlawfully occupied West Bank city of Hebron. The recording shows Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers ordering adult Palestinians to wake the frightened children, 13 of whom are gathered into a group and then told to “say cheese” before being photographed outside the home.

A woman in the home asks the troops, “Do you like when the soldiers come and take pictures [of] your kids?”

One of the Israeli soldiers explains that the children are being photographed “because they’re throwing stones here,” a reference to the futile yet symbolic act of Palestinian youth hurling rocks at heavily armored IDF vehicles.

B’Tselem said that the video shows “how arbitrarily the routine of the lives of Palestinians living under occupation is disrupted, and how easily soldiers violate their rights.”

“It seems that for the army, all Palestinians, including boys and girls of elementary school age, are potential criminals—they are allowed to wake them up at any time at night, enter their house and conduct a lineup,” the group added.

An Israeli soldier holds a phone camera against an Israel/Palestine flag background

The London-based, pro-Israel Jewish group Yachad U.K. called the incident “morally repugnant.”

Dylan Williams, senior vice president of the U.S.-based pro-Israel lobby group J Street, said the troops committed “a violation of international law.”

“If any of the arms or equipment used by Israeli forces during this were U.S.-sourced, it’s also a violation of U.S. law,” he added.

According to the IDF, the home was invaded following a stone-throwing incident at the nearby illegal Israeli settler colony of Kiryat Arba.

“During the incident, minors were photographed by the officer to identify the stone-throwers,” an IDF official said, according to The Times of Israel.

“This officer’s conduct was not proper,” the army official added. “The officer has received a reprimand on his conduct, and procedures will be sharpened among the forces to prevent the recurrence of similar cases.”

In what the IDF called “intelligence mapping,” troops entered the homes of Palestinians who are not suspected of any wrongdoing at night in order to gain knowledge of the buildings’ residents and layouts. In June, the IDF announced it would significantly curtail the controversial practice.

Earlier this month, Common Dreams reported that the IDF veterans’ group Breaking the Silence revealed a sweeping IDF West Bank surveillance operation in which troops are using facial recognition technology integrated with ubiquitous security cameras and smartphones to compile a database of as many Palestinians as possible.

To build the database, IDF soldiers held competitions to see who could take the most photos of Palestinians, including children. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz noted that it is illegal for IDF troops to photograph minors.