Border Police train Israeli teens to detain illegal Palestinian workers

12:00 Jan 2 2012 Modi'in area, Israel

Several dozen teens between ages of 16-18 take part in project meant to boost security in Modi'in area; Ministry of Education does not recognize program.

By Talila Nesher for Haaretz

“I consider it a form of pleasure. It simply provides me with values, and I love the action.”

This is how Reut, a high school senior from the Modi’in area, describes her experience as part of the “No’ar Magav” Border Police Youth.

The initiative is financed by the Public Security Minister of Israel and the Modi’in Regional Council, without any knowledge on the part of Ministry of Education.

Approximately 36 teenagers between the ages of 16-18 take part in the project. In their spare time, they help catch “illegal residents”, or stand at checkpoints and help guard the neighboring settlements. According to the regional council, the teenagers have been able to catch dozens of illegal aliens, mostly Palestinian workers who lack Israeli work permits, in the past couple weeks.

“I like catching the Palestinian workers,” says Reut. “Generally we look for them because they scare children. The point is to catch them and return them back where they belong.”

Eran, another member of the group, describes the activities with joy: “It’s a fun feeling – you are filled with adrenaline and energy during such operations. We also feel pride for protecting our home. For instance, one time we went to a construction site and found a few of them there. We saw them hiding and we caught them, took their identification cards, sat them down in the vehicle, and called our commander to come check them.”

Another member, Liad, emphasizes that the Palestinian workers are “taken in gently, the way we were taught. We take them to the patrol vehicle and take them to the station where they undergo investigation. I don’t personally handcuff them.”

The official purpose of the Border Police Youth is to aid and strengthen security in the Modi’in area. The presence of teenagers with M-16s is meant to scare away thieves and other threats in the region.

“Obviously it’s a good thing that teenagers do this,” says Reut. “I feel that I am doing something for the sake of security, that I’m helping people. Some of my friends told me that they are chased by Arabs that sleep in the construction sites where they work. We make sure they are not there. After they receive their due punishment from the court, they rarely return.”

The youth’s training lasts several days, during which they participate in workshops regarding the activities they will partake in, as well as visit shooting ranges.

“They teach us how operations work, what is allowed and what is not,” explains Liad. “Before we go out for an operation, we gather in one spot for a briefing on how to use weapons, listen to security measures, and then go out to catch illegal workers.”

Corinne Chaim, the group’s coordinator, explains that “these teenagers go out, accompanied by Border Police, in order to work at the checkpoints, to check vehicles for illegal workers. They search buildings. A month ago, at a checkpoint on Highway 443, they aided in stopping and searching a bus for suspicious individuals.”

Another Border Police Youth course is set to open in a month or so, to the tune of close to 30 new members. “We are bringing presentations to different high schools, hosting conferences in different towns, and sometimes at private homes,” says Chaim. Every teenager that is interested in the project must get permission from both parents and a doctor.

According to the head of the Modi’in Regional Council Yossi Elimelech, the project is intended to “occupy the teenagers, strengthen the Border Police, enlarge the percentage of volunteers among the general population and consolidate a feeling of camaraderie among the teens.”

Dr. Nir Michaeli, head of the Education Department at Tel Aviv’s Kibbutzim College, says that “it is sad that these teenagers are taught militaristic principles rather than instilling in them a sense of balance that could serve them during their upcoming military service.”

“Non-formal education needs to emphasize giving back to society, but in a constructive rather than a militaristic way,” says Michaeli.

According to the Ministry of Education, the project is “not recognized”, and will be investigated.
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