Wadi Maswadeh, 5, is detained by Israeli troops.
Wadi Maswadeh, 5, is held by Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Hebron, in footage released by human rights group B'Tselem

Israel has denied accusations its troops acted illegally after video footage emerged showing seven Israeli soldiers detaining a five-year-old boy for throwing stones in the West Bank city of Hebron.

The footage, released by Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, showed the armed Israeli Defence Force troops surrounding the child, who is seen screaming and resisting as he is held and put into a military jeep.

The boy, Wadi Maswadeh, was alleged to have thrown a stone at a passing car driven by Israeli settlers on the road to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a disputed holy site that has been the scene of repeated violence in the past.

He was then driven to his father's house, where his father Karam Maswadeh was handcuffed and blindfolded before the two were taken to an Israeli military base, where they were briefly held before being handed over to Palestinian police.

The Israeli Defence Force said its soldiers had acted lawfully because no formal arrest ever took place.

"The child was not arrested and no charges were filed," a military statement said.

It said more than 150 Israelis had been injured in 2,000 rock-throwing incidents across the occupied West Bank this year.

B'Tselem called the incident, which occurred on 9 June, a "grave breach" of Israel's commitments under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and said it had lodged a formal complaint with the government.

The age of criminal responsibility is set at 12 in Israeli law.

Interviewed later by a local TV network, Wadi admitted throwing a stone, saying he had been aiming at a dog.

B'Tselem director Jessica Montell.said: "This was not a mistake made by an individual soldier, but rather conduct that, to our alarm, was considered reasonable by all the military personnel involved, including senior officers."

The Israeli Defence Force said the boy had presented a threat to passers-by.

"Soldiers intervened on the spot and accompanied the minor to his parents. From there he was passed on to the care of the Palestinian Security Forces, all the while accompanied by his parents. The child was not arrested and no charges were filed," it said.

This article was updated November 30, -0001 00:00 AM
VIDEO