The story behind the images of the crying boy

Posted: August 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Haaretz’s Gidon Levy brings the Jaberi family’s account of the events that led to the images showing Khaled Jabari, aged 4, trying to prevent his father from being taken away by the army. Israel accused the Palestinians of “staging” the scene

Khaled jabari trying to prevent his father from getting arrested

Last week I posted here the now famous clip of Khaled Jabari, a Palestinian child, desperately trying to prevent Israeli border police soldiers from arresting his Father, Fadel Jabari, on charge of water theft.

A few days later, Haaretz’s Gidon Levy met with the Jabari family and heard their account of the arrest [Hebrew]. As it turned, the soldiers actually came for Fadel’s father, 65 years old Badran Jabari, who used a local settlement’s water pipe to water his vegetables field.

As I explained in my previous post, water is a major issue in the region of South Hebron, where the Jabari family lives. The Israeli authorities construct pipes mostly for the use of the settlers, and the Palestinian Authority has limited control in the region, so it can’t build its own system.

As it turned, the pipe Badran Jabari used was a joint Israeli-Palestinian one, and according to his account, he actually had an authorization from the Palestinian Authority to connect to the water system. The IDF Civil Administration, however, did not authorize the use of the pipe, which was supposed to serve a local settlement only.

It will be wrong to understand this story in the terms of relations between a local municipality and a farmer – a perception that might lead us to believe that while the Jabari family might have suffered some injustice, ultimately, they simply stole the water. The IDF is the sole authority in the West Bank, and it gives very little attention to the Palestinians’ daily problems. The Jabaris, and many like them, have no other options. Stories like the one which happened at their field take place all the time around Hebron; the only difference this time was the presence of a crying boy and a cameraman at the scene.

This is from Gidon Levy’s report of the arrest (my translation):

Last Sunday the Jabaris went to visit the family’s grandfather, Badran Jaberi. Palestine, Khaled’s mother is a teacher. Fadel, his father, is a peddler of clothes and curtains. The couple has three small children. Khaled [the boy seen in the clip], aged four and two months, is the older. Grandfather Badran, Palestine’s mother, was a professor of sociology and active member in the Pupolar Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He spent 12 years in Israeli prison, nine of them without trial, until he became a farmer. Israel has never allowed him to leave the West Bank.

Badran, aged 65, has 11 acres east of Kiryat Arba – a vegetables garden and a vineyard. The family of his youngest daughter, who lives in the north of Hebron, went there last week to spend a few days of the summer vacation. On the first day of their visit, Khaled joined his grandfather and together they went to work in the field where the zucchini, tomatoes and cucumbers are grown. A dog the child adopted accompanied them. Grandpa is calling Khaled by his nicknames: Jabber and Abbud. The family remained awake till late, eating, drinking and playing together.

Badran talks about what happened in good Hebrew, which he learned at Damascus University in 1965.

The next day, around six in the morning, the grandfather woke up to the sound of military vehicles approaching the house. He says it was a convoy of 20 vehicles: trucks, jeeps and bulldozers, border police forces, Police, Civil Administration and IDF. An entire army has raided his fields.

He went outside to ask what this was all about, but the policemen ordered him to return home immediately. He asked to speak with the officer in charge, but an officer told him the Civil Administration’s infrastructure officer has not arrived yet. “This is my field, what are you doing here? Rome will burn before Nero arrives,” he answered the policemen and soldiers, though it is doubtful if they knew what he was talking about. Badran had already experienced such raids: the affair regarding him tapping into the water network that crosses his fields has been going on for a long time, and included many such raids by the Civil Administration, which upholds the law only when Palestinians are concerned.

The noise made the grandmother come out as well. She was pushed by the soldiers and fell on the ground. They [the soldiers and policemen] began to dismantle the plumbing and to load the pipes on the truck. In doing so, they tore the plastic sheets and hurt the crops. Badran says that whenever he tried to speak with the officer in charge, they pushed him and cursed him: “Go home, old bastard.” To his daughter, Wissam, they referred as “a slut.”

Badran was handcuffed, while the action continued. Meanwhile, the younger son Wadee woke up. Badran says he told his son to get back to the house, but one of the officers ordered: “The SOB has boys, arrest the son.”

Wadee entered the house and run away from the back door, chased by the border police soldiers. “We were afraid for the child,” says Badran. Later, Wadee was caught [picture below] and his father tried to rescue him from the soldiers (Badran says his son was beaten). Then woke the eldest son, Fadel, little Khaled’s father. He went outside barefoot, wearing only his pajamas, and was beaten as well.

Badran says his son was knocked down three or four times. “We tried to talk to the officer, but it did not help. He just said [to the soldiers]: ‘arrest all those disturbing you. The old man too.’” Badran says he tried to calm his sons. He remembered how in a previous raid on his fields, on July 6, soldiers threw stun grenades and fired rubber coated bullets.

“After that, they took my child, Fadel, and Khaled woke up and tried to rescue his father,” Badran continues. “The boy was barefoot, he wept and shouted and fell several times between the legs of soldiers and the policemen. Khaled tried to defend his father and his uncle Wadee. ‘I want my father,’ he cried. When they took Fadel to the Jeep I told them: ‘Arrest me as well. What shall we live from? You took everything.’ I couldn’t take it any more. I sat and wept and told the border police officer: ‘You are harder than the stones here. You have no heart; you have no brain, look at what you are doing. You took everything’”.

A Palestinian photographer working for Reuters captured the events and passed the images on.

Fadel and Wadee were taken to the Kiryat Arba police station. Their father immediately sent a lawyer to the station, but he wasn’t allowed to meet them. The police told the father that they were taken to the Etzion detention facility. At Etzion he was told that Fadel remained there and that Wadee was taken to Ofer facility, near Ramallah. Last Thursday the two brothers were detained for six more days, in which they will be charged with assaulting five soldiers.

The border police spokesperson told Haaretz that “during enforcement action against water thieves in the southern Hebron hills, the police and army force was attacked with stones. Two people involved in the riot were arrested. During the arrest, as can be seen in the photos, the family chose to make a cynical use of a child, which was staged and directed [by them]. Instead of acting responsibly and removing the child from the scene, they chose to engage in cheap Anti-Israeli propaganda, deliberately aimed at presenting us in a negative way in the world.”

wadee Jabari arrested by border police soldiers near Hebron

Regarding the context of the affair, Levy writes:

In 1995 a water pipeline was constructed through the fields of Badran from the town Banni Na’im to the settlement of Tkoa. Badran asked the Israeli water company to connect him the pipeline passing through his field (…) and was referred to the municipality of Banni Na’im. Badran claims he received a permit from the municipality to connect to the water line. After a few days the army came and confiscated the plumbing. Badran turned to the Palestinian Water Authority in Ramallah, where they gave him and three of his neighbors a permit to connect to the water line.

After a month, the Israeli Civil Administration came back, deemed the connection illegal, and confiscated the pipes [for the first time]. Badran says that a Civil Administration officer once told him: “I do not want to see something green on your fields. I want to see everything yellow.”

Fadel and Wadee Jabari are still in Israeli prison, awaiting trial.

15 Comments on “The story behind the images of the crying boy”

  1. 1 Walter_NYC said at 6:04 am on August 19th, 2010:

    How can civilians be accused of STEALING water? It’s time for Israel to pause, and think…
    Israel is a miracle built, through amazing effort, in a desert. But the miracle will turn into a mirage unless this type of injustice is addressed.

  2. 2 Person said at 7:23 am on August 19th, 2010:

    Walter_NYC, a civilian can be arrested for stealing water just as he can be arrested for stealing an axe, or a car.

    If you manage to connect into a NYC water main (don’t try), and take water without paying for it, you will be stealing water and you too will be arrested.

    I’m appalled by how little people know about the history of the many many groups lumped together to call themselves “Palestinians.”

    It’s a mish-mash of arabs who have lived all over the middle east in the last hundred or two hundred years. They ended up scrambling for that particular land since neither Egypt, nor Jordan, nor any other arab country in the area wants them. It’s not as if Israel came and seized land from them – it wasn’t theirs in the first place.

    PS: There are other far more factually accurate books out there than Carter’s compendium of lies. There’s a reason Carter refused to debate Dershowitz on his factual assertions (and no, it’s not because of some stereotype that Dershowitz will trick him into looking stupid because that’s what lawyers supposedly do).

  3. 3 John said at 9:15 am on August 19th, 2010:

    To respond to Person:
    A mish-mash of people from Brooklyn (not even from the middle-east) is what most settlers are… so what they are doing there… taking water – and land- from the people who live there makes no sense at all.

    Water is a human right – not just a settler’s right.

    This is – as the world now sees – A system of Apartheid.

  4. 4 Tony Garcia said at 3:15 pm on August 20th, 2010:

    The Palestinians had lived in Palestine for as long as two thousand years. The Palestinians had no reason to look for a place to live, for example in Egypt or Jordan, until the Jews arrived to drive the Palestinians out of their homes. It wasn’t until they were driven out of their homes that the Palestinians looked for other places to live. The crimes committed against the Palestinians will not be forgotten.

  5. 5 Michael LeFavour said at 9:52 am on August 21st, 2010:


    Do you pay your bill in NYC, or do you just steal the water? I have to pay for mine here in Detroit because I want it purified before I drink it.

    Professor Garcia,

    There is no reference to a so called Arab Palestinian social construct until the 1960s. The only uniquely identifiable cultural group from two thousand years ago is the Jewish people and they will not be forgotten. The only reason why Arabs lost their homes is because they tried to throw the Jews into the sea and lost. Cause and effect that even a simpleton like you might understand if you ponder it long enough.

  6. 6 Lewis said at 12:33 pm on August 21st, 2010:

    The Israeli government meets the dictionary definition of evil:

    “morally wrong or bad; immoral; harmful; injurious”

    They drop chemical weapons and cluster bombs on civilians; they illegally sieze land and put up walls; they impose illegal blockades and attack foreign ships in international waters; and here they arrest people who have permits! They have become like the evil they so often claim to be against.

    My best friend really is Jewish, but I obviously separate my kind feelings for him from politics on the other side of the earth. However, Israel’s actions have been growing a visceral sense of repulsion and disgust in me for their hypocritical, self-righteous people.

    Your ACTIONS are what create anti-Semitism!

  7. 7 Angela said at 10:39 pm on August 21st, 2010:

    How can Israel expect to be taken seriously by educated people or the real problems of Israeli Jews be taken seriously by educated people, if so-called “supporters” of Israel show themselves to be totally blind to their own racism against the Arab population? And indeed, in pre-revolutionary France it was as much a crime for a rich man to sleep under a bridge as for a poor man to sleep under a bridge. However, not many rich men slept under bridges. So it is with…water.

  8. 8 Mihael LeFavour said at 7:19 am on August 22nd, 2010:


    How can Antisemitism be isolated and Israel be helped when so-called politically correct “supporters” of Israeli Jews fail to recognize real racism and objectivity? Your comment is out of place here or I am blind. Can you elaborate? Because I can elaborate on the charge that the Arabs are racist bigots.

    Have you read the foundational document of the PLO? It mentions the Arab race over 30 times. It also states clearly that the PLO did not recognize any authority over or a desire to liberate the so called West Bank (ethnic cleansing term) and Gaza. Why is that? They were controlled by Arab Muslims at the time. Now that they are not, suddenly the Charter was rewritten and the Arabs suddenly discovered their long lost homeland is under occupation. For 19 years while Arab Muslims owned it there was silence, once Jews gained it there is war, outrage, and desperation. Use your head and think. I know you feel the Arabs are the underdogs, but they are not and it is tough to accept the truth when they are so adept at playing for sympathy on the gullible.

  9. 9 Chicago_Guy said at 8:30 am on August 22nd, 2010:

    @Michael –
    You’re not addressing the issue at hand, and instead trying to steer the context into one where you feel that inhumane treatment of other human beings becomes justified by historical circumstance.
    Regardless of what view you take of the past, the fact is that Israelis must live with their neighbors.
    That they hold their end with dignity, respect and humanity, will acquit them as a civilized people.
    That they may take any context to needlessly dehumanize and oppress, thus mirroring the worst of their enemy in attitude and tactic, logically makes them equal in contempt.

  10. 10 Michael LeFavour said at 12:32 pm on August 22nd, 2010:


    Several things.

    How do you propose to understand an issue without context? For example, here is an actual event…a friend came upon two men fighting at the mall, all he saw was two men fighting, both were bloody but one was clearly winning, so he jumped in to stop it by grabbing the bigger guy. It turns out the guy he grabbed was a plainclothes security man and the guy he was fighting with had just robbed a store at knife point. The guy could have got away. Without knowing what had just transpired and how the two men had arrived at the situation, or why they were fighting, my friend made assumptions about the size and level of damage and aggression of one of the two combatants, then acted on a desire to do good.

    Context is everything. The fact that so called east bank Palestinians accepted a Hashemite invader that arrived at the head of an army and stayed in what later became Jordan (for lack of any historical or cultural connection to the land) proves that the Arabs were fine with outsiders. What did those outsiders from the Hedjaz bring besides tyranny and mismanagement? Nothing, but they were Arab Muslims. When those same Arab Muslims crossed the Jordan to throw the Jews into the sea and take more land by force the locals said nothing. By contrast Jews helped all the locals build better infrastructure and provided them a higher standard of living and freedoms never before seen at the hands of the Turks or Arabs, and more, yet they were rejected with violence. Why? Because they were not Muslim Arabs and according to Islam it is an abomination to allow conquered land to revert to Dar al Harb. The entire conflict is about Muslim intolerance and little else. That is the context of every event large and small.

    Secondly, I reject your accusation that the Arabs are being treated inhumanely. I do not share that view and see no evidence to support it. The man was a thief and got caught and punished. He knows that he needs permission from the Israelis to tap into the water pipe, but chose to flaunt or abuse the law.

    If you see a situation imposed on the Arabs that you find less than palatable I suggest you look to understand why they brought it on themselves within the contextual backdrop of the entire conflict and within Israeli security needs. Bear in mind you do not decide what the minimum defense is and you do not have your innocent children’s lives at risk if you fail. Israelis do.

    Third, Israeli Jews have proven they can live with others. The inverse is true of the Arabs. One in five Israelis are not Jewish. You would be better served waging your finger at the Arabs where no Jew is allowed to rest in peace amongst them. Jordan had Jewish communities before it became Jordan, so did Gaza. They are all gone now precisely because they can and do live without Jews as neighbors. My suggestion is for the angry Arabs to move there where they do not have to live next to those hated Jews, where the locals are historically and culturally no different than they are, where Arabic is the language, and where Islam is supreme.

    The fact is Israelis only have to live with the other if they match Western tolerance. If they match Middle Eastern intolerance, which none of the so called human rights activists seem to mind, they do not. Survival trumps the land rights of a handful of hateful bigots. Were that genocidal hate to die out maybe we could talk about coexistence in a meaningful way. Until then it is a charade. Until then Jews are more than prepared to give all the respect and dignity that you demand the give. That is a two way street though. Denying the connection to the land that Jews have and the archeology to prove it is no way to express respect. Nor is the rampant Antisemitism spread by the civic and religious leadership.

    Last, I reject your libel that Israelis take every chance to dehumanize and oppress. Jews are routinely referred to as apes and pigs, as the murderers of prophets, as the enemy of, not just so called Palestinians, but of all Muslims, and as blood drinking murderers who will burn in a fiery hell for rejecting God. Under Islamic law they are not even worth one human in a court of law, a Jew can not testify against a Muslim. Think I am making this up to score a point? It is so insane I wish I were. Here it is in their own words.

    “the Jews of today [are] evil offspring, infidels, distorters, of [God's] words, calf-worshippers, prophet-murderers…the scum of the human race whom Allah cursed and turned into apes and pigs….”

    Saudi Sheikh Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayyis, imam at the Ka’aba mosque in Mecca

    If you could provide a similar example to prove your false charge of dehumanization with any level of intensity and permeation through Jewish society like that I would like to see it. Because it is clear to me you are projecting. And worse, you are enabling. By your words and deeds you have allowed the Arabs to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions. By blaming the Jews the Arabs are absolved of aggression and hate. The question is why do you do it? Logic does not support you stance.

  11. 11 Chicago_Guy said at 9:43 pm on August 22nd, 2010:

    You’ve proven my point. Thanks.

    If by living with others, you mean illegal land grabs (even by Israeli government agreements), then yes. Nightmares of soldiers and government whose sole purpose is your suffering and ultimate dislocation (did you even read the article)?

    Context? How’s that for context for Palestinian discontent?

    Yet Michael, I won’t offer that as an excuse for their abhorrent behaviors.

    You ought to think a bit before you offer it for the Israelis.

    Clearly, by the length of your book report, you’ve got time to spare :)

  12. 12 Josh said at 10:54 am on August 23rd, 2010:

    I challenge Michael to go live with a poor Palestinian family in the West Bank (or Gaza, if that were possible) for a few months and then report back on his new views. People are mostly the same, no matter what group they’re in. Unless you’ve got a mental illness, it becomes really hard to wish violence or poverty on anyone once you know them.

  13. 13 Michael LeFavour said at 4:47 pm on August 23rd, 2010:


    Thanks for proving my point as well. The urge to learn only enough history to suit your cause must be irresistible to your sort. I asked you for an example of abhorrent Israeli behavior, dehumanization in particular. What did I get? Mindless drivel and ludicrous sloganeering. How is that for context? Do you think throwing more unsubstantiated libel passes as an acceptable response? The soldiers and the government in charge of them have no other purpose than to cause suffering and homelessness on your poor racist friends? Please. What is there to say if you have allowed yourself to become such a stooge that you would resort to the sort of libel that deserves a place on the shelf next to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

    In fact, do you even have a point, Chicago? If you do, it is buried under a mountain of false charges and ignorance and I don’t see it.


    I challenge you to live in Sderot for a few months and report back on your new views.

    I know dozens of Arabs that call themselves Palestinians. I have been close friends with a family from Gaza, a frequent dinner guest, and even inquired about marriage to their daughter back when I was single and looking for a wife. We were that close and all I got was one side of the conflict before I became interested enough to learn on my own. What makes you assume I do not know any Arabs anyway? I love Arab music and art and wish they would pursue that instead of rampant Jew hatred.

    Besides that though, what have I said that leads you to believe I wish violence or poverty on them? That is a ridiculous assumption just because I do not support criminal theft.

  14. 14 Chicago_Guy said at 9:26 pm on August 23rd, 2010:

    @Michael –
    Do you read the articles you post on?

    Your points are beyond facile, lacking in any factual basis, and further, totally irrelevant.

    Also, you’re a racist – reducing every Palestinian and Arab to an anti-Semite or anti-Zionist? You’re like the mirror image of an Hamas flunky.

    So, please feel free to post another novella, so that you can convince even more people what a misguided racist you are.

    I’m done letting you embarrass yourself.

  15. 15 Michael LeFavour said at 2:25 pm on August 24th, 2010:


    Of course I read the propaganda here. What part of the incident being staged did you not understand? What part of the Badran patriarch’s ties to a terrorist organization PFLP did you miss? I have found that Noam rarely tells the whole story, so I reserve judgment for verifiable facts instead of hearsay and Gideon Levy’s perverse opinions and ignorant commentary before I let my emotions get the better of my judgment. The man was a thief and has a motivation to exaggerate about what happened. He used a child intentionally to create an illusion and he used the arch stooge levy as a weapon against the hated Jews, who incidentally he feels owe him something for free. Noam saw that this photo makes Israel “appear” bad so he ran to it like a starving dog to a bone. Dead IDF officers murdered by Shiite snipers in the LAF, not newsworthy on a blog about Israel.

    I have no idea how the Arabs will ever stop teaching their children that Jews are monsters after their blood when so many enablers like you, who have made such a desperate flight from reality, make it easy for them to carry on with the hate. I asked you to qualify your slander that Israelis are thieves, tormentors, oppressors, and inhumane. I really wanted to know how making the grotesque claim that Israeli soldiers have no purpose in life other than causing Arab suffering for gratuitous pleasure is not Antisemitism. What did I get? More slander. It must be your forte since that is all you have printed. Ironic, but predictable, you resorted to the very demonization you claim to oppose by calling me a racist. Now that you have served the conversation ender your cupboard is bare.