Hebron settlers hold mass Sabbath dinner; Israeli military takes over nearby Palestinian homes to secure the celebration

Published: 
18 Dec 2016

At 2:00 A.M. on Thursday, 24 November 2016, soldiers came to the home of the Abu Munshar family in Jabal a-Rahma, a neighborhood overlooking the Old City of Hebron. The soldiers woke the family and informed them they had a warrant permitting them to take over the house. The family demanded to see it and the officer in charge showed them the warrant, which in fact permitted the soldiers to deploy on the roof only. After the family argued the point, the officer said that he would agree to take over the roof only, on condition that the family leave the door of the house open to enable the soldiers to use the bathroom. The soldiers remained on the roof until morning, when they left. That evening they returned to the roof and stayed until late at night. Throughout their time on the roof, the soldiers used the family’s bathroom and kitchen.


Video: Warud Da’na, 17

At about 8:00 P.M. the next day, Friday, 25 November, soldiers also showed up at the home of the Da’na family in Wadi a-Nasarah, Hebron, a neighborhood adjacent to the security fence of the Kiryat Arba settlement. They presented a warrant allowing them to take over the entire house, not only the roof. The soldiers entered and took over parts of the house, including the bedroom of 17-year-old Warud Da’na. They stayed until 8:00 A.M. During that time they slept in Warud’s bed and on the floor of her room, ate in the kitchen, and used the bathroom and even the family’s towels. Fearing for their children’s safety, the parents sent some of the children to relatives. Warud Da’na told B’Tselem:

It was hard to watch the soldiers walking over the carpets in my room with their shoes and sitting on my bed after moving the dolls. I asked my father to tell them to leave, but he said he couldn’t… I asked him if I could go sleep at my grandfather’s with my younger brother, who was scared of the soldiers. They were masked and held weapons. We stayed with my grandfather all night but I couldn’t sleep because I was worried about my family. The next day, the soldiers left at eight o’clock in the morning and I went back home. It was very obvious that the soldiers had slept in my bed. The thought of them sleeping in my bed and in my room really bothers me.

According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit response as quoted in an article about the incident published by Israeli news website ynetnews on 8 December 2016, the homes were commandeered as part of efforts to secure the area near the Tomb of the Patriarchs during the weekend of the reading of the reading of the Chayei Sarah [Life of Sarah] Torah portion. The IDF Spokesperson noted that the claims that soldiers had used the property of the homes they had commandeered would be looked into. Settler-affiliated websites reported that the festivities were attended by some 30,000 people, including Israeli MKs and ministers, and was celebrated under the slogan “Sovereignty over the Land of Israel Now”.

Settlers in Hebron’s Old City during the Chayei Sarah Sabbath. Photo by ‘Abd al-‘Alim a-Salaimeh, Hebron, 26 Nov. 2016
Settlers in Hebron’s Old City during the Chayei Sarah Sabbath. Photo by ‘Abd al-‘Alim a-Salaimeh, Hebron, 26 Nov. 2016

The military’s conduct in the incidents described above illustrates its view of Palestinian homes as no-man’s land that can be entered and used as Israeli security forces see fit at any time, with no regard to the rights and routine of the people living in those homes. Having soldiers enter one’s home is a violent, degrading experience. It intimidates the residents, infringes upon their privacy, and impedes their ability to lead a normal daily life. The blatant violation of these families’ rights was not a response to any wrongdoing on their part - they simply had the misfortune of living near areas taken over by settlers with the state’s support. This unacceptable conduct is but another illustration of what daily life is like in central Hebron, where occupation authorities subjugate the lives of Palestinians to the whims of settlers.

Testimonies

Soldiers on the steps of the home of the Abu Munshar family, Hebron. Photo by Anwar Abu Munshar, 24 Nov. 2016
Soldiers on the steps of the home of the Abu Munshar family, Hebron. Photo by Anwar Abu Munshar, 24 Nov. 2016

In a testimony given to B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash on 28 November 2016, Anwar Abu Munshar described how the soldiers took over the roof of his family’s home, where he lives with his wife and seven children:

My house is near the Old City and overlooks it. It is made up of two adjoining buildings that have four apartments: our own and the ones in which my nephews live. On Thursday, 24 November 2016, I woke up at about two o’clock in the morning from the sound of knocking on the front door. I opened it and saw soldiers standing there. They told me they had a military order allowing them to take over the house and use it for their needs. I asked to see it and the officer showed me the warrant. It was written in Hebrew and Arabic. Attached to it was a map on which our house was marked in red. I read the warrant and noticed it stated that only the roof of the house could be used, not the house itself. I went up to the officer and asked him to check the details of the order again. He took a photo of it on his mobile phone and sent it to his superiors. A few minutes later, he was informed by phone that what the order said was correct. The officer told me that they would go up to the roof on condition that the door of our apartment stay open so they could use the bathroom. I told him I’d close the door but not lock it, and that if they needed something they could knock and enter.

Eight soldiers went up to the roof. Every now and then there was a knock on the door and one of the soldiers came in to use the bathroom. That happened more than ten times. They stayed until 9:30 in the morning. My wife, my children and I couldn’t sleep all night. Before they left, the officer told me that the order allowed them to stay until 2:00 A.M. the next day, so they might be back.

That night, at 8:30 P.M., the soldiers returned. They went up to the roof and stayed there until 1:30 at night. None of us slept a wink until they left. They used the bathroom several times and, on one of the nights, made themselves coffee in the kitchen. They didn’t use anything else in the house. Having them in our home scared the children.

When members of the Da’na family spoke with B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bri on 27 November. they described how the soldiers took over their house on the night of the 25th. The family’s home lies by the fence enclosing the settlement of Kiryat Arba, and this was not the first time soldiers have entered it at night, disrupting the family’s life. Samih Da’na, 48, a married father of four, related:

A soldier on roof of the home of the Abu Munshar family, Hebron. Photo by Anwar Abu Munshar, 24 Nov. 2016
A soldier on roof of the home of the Abu Munshar family, Hebron. Photo by Anwar Abu Munshar, 24 Nov. 2016

Samih Da’na, 48, a married father of four, related:

My wife and I live in the house with our four children. The eldest is 18 and the youngest is only a year-and-a-half old. On 25 November 2016, at around eight o’clock in the evening, I heard the sound of heavy footsteps coming up the stairs to the house, and then a knock at the door. I opened the door and saw some ten soldiers wearing masks. One of them, I think he was an officer, told me he had a military order allowing the soldiers to sleep in our house from eight in the evening to eight the next morning. At first, I refused and tried to keep the soldiers from coming in. I told them my wife and kids were at home and that they couldn’t sleep in a house with soldiers in it. I stressed that there’s no room in the house and that the children are afraid of soldiers. I explained to the officer that my brother Ghasan’s apartment is empty, so they could sleep there or on the roof. The officer refused and said that they would choose a room in the house and use it. They chose my daughter Warud’s bedroom. She’s 17. He said they’d sleep in her room and use the kitchen and bathroom. Warud was afraid of the soldiers, so she and my 11-year-old son went to sleep at their grandfather’s.

The soldiers went into Warud’s room. Some of them lay down on the floor and two lay on her bed. They went in and out of the house as they pleased. They used the bathroom and ate on the kitchen floor for about an hour, so my wife couldn’t go in to prepare a bottle for the baby. They brushed their teeth in our bathroom and I saw them use our towels and soap. They asked for a heater so we gave them one. They used it until morning.

The soldiers moved around the house all night. My wife and I, along with our two children who did stay home, couldn’t sleep. They left at eight in the morning, after eating breakfast in our kitchen. They weren’t aggressive during their stay, and they took their trash with them.

 A soldier at the entrance to the home of the Abu Munshar family, Hebron. Photo by Anwar Abu Munshar, 24 Nov. 2016
A soldier at the entrance to the home of the Abu Munshar family, Hebron. Photo by Anwar Abu Munshar, 24 Nov. 2016

Warud Da’na, 17, related:

The soldiers came in and spread out all over the house. I saw them go into my room. My father explained to us that they would be sleeping in our house, and specifically in my room. It was a very uncomfortable feeling. I’m afraid of soldiers and it bothered me that they were sleeping in our house. I’m also used to sleeping in my bed and it’s hard for me to sleep anywhere else. It was hard to watch the soldiers walking over the carpets in my room with their shoes and sitting on my bed after moving the dolls. I asked my father to tell them to leave, but he said he couldn’t.

I asked him if I could go sleep at my grandfather’s with my younger brother, who was scared of the soldiers. They were masked and had guns. We stayed with my grandfather all night but I couldn’t sleep because I was worried about my family. The next day, the soldiers left at eight o’clock in the morning and I went back home. It was very obvious that the soldiers had slept in my bed. The thought of them sleeping in my bed and in my room really bothers me.