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A 16-year-old Palestinian boy, pictured in a photo that has been roundly condemned as symbolising the Israeli army’s use of excessive force, has been accused of throwing stones at a group of armed Israeli soldiers.
An image of Fawzi al-Junaidi, blindfolded and surrounded by more than 20 Israeli occupation forces, was denounced widely as it was shared on social media earlier this week.
The scene pictures al-Junaidi looking disoriented, wearing a grey shirt and ripped jeans as dozens of soldiers crowd around him carrying guns and wearing protective gear, including helmets and knee pads.
The teenager, who denies throwing stones, was arrested on Thursday amid ongoing protests across the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip over a US decision on December 6 to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In six days, at least 16 other Palestinians have been arrested for protesting. At least four have been killed in violence since the US declaration, and more than 700 injured.
‘He was beaten with a rifle’
Al-Junaidi also denies accusations of “participating in protests”.
Witnesses have claimed they saw al-Junaidi throwing stones.
“He said he was fearful and was running away when tear gas canisters were being thrown,” his lawyer, Farah Bayadsi, told Al Jazeera. “Fawzi said he was beaten with a rifle and he showed up with bruises all over his neck, chest and back.”
She told Al Jazeera that the child would face formal charges in front of an Israeli military court on Wednesday, following an initial hearing on Monday.
“The police had called for an extension on Fawzi’s arrest during the initial hearing,” said Bayadsi, who works under the Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCIP).
“The prosecutor demanded a seven-day extension to the arrest so that they can prepare a list of indictments, but we refused. The list of formal charges will be announced [Wednesday] at the second hearing,” she said.
According to Bayadsi, the judge was stunned at the use of excessive force that al-Junaidi was subjected to – something that became apparent in the manner he was transferred to prison.