On Saturday B’Tselem volunteer Shadi Sidr filmed a settler trying to take down a Palestinian from Sidr’s own roof. Soldiers then arrived, demanding Sidr satisfy the settler’s whim of removing the flag. B’Tselem avers that soldiers must ensure the safety of Palestinians. Soldiers must not abandon a Palestinian to fend for himself. Soldiers are obliged to safeguard Palestinians, the protected population of the West Bank. It goes without saying that soldiers must not aid and abet trespassing settlers or their whims.
Hebron city center
B'Tselem has written to Legal Advisor for Judea and Samaria Col. Doron Ben-Barak notifying him of two recent incidents in which soldiers unlawfully detained children, some under the age of criminal responsibility, on suspicion of throwing stones. Although both incidents were relatively short, the children involved remained very frightened. Video footage of the incidents gives a glimpse into the harsh daily routine of many Palestinian minors and their parents, which will undoubtedly have long-term implications for the children.
Over the past decade downtown Hebron has become a ghost town. Israel has enacted a strict segregationist policy there, enforced by imposing stringent restrictions on Palestinian pedestrians and vehicles, closing shops and businesses, and not safeguarding Palestinians from settler violence. As a result, entire neighborhoods have been deserted. We took a group of American Young Judeans on a tour of downtown Hebron. This was the first time most of them had been to downtown Hebron. Sharon Azran, a photographer and a B’Tselem staff member, joined the tour. Below are some of her photos:
“Smile, and the World Will Smile Back”, a documentary film by the al-Haddad family of Hebron made in collaboration with Ehab Tarabieh and Yoav Gross – volunteer photographers in B'Tselem's camera project and filmmakers, respectively – is to be screened as part of the short film competition at the Berlinale International Film Festival. The film documents one winter’s night at the al-Haddad home in Hebron. A group of soldiers arrives for a routine night search there, for reasons unknown to the family. Diaa and Shatha al-Hadaad, brother and sister, pick up the home video camera and record the events as they unfold throughout the night. The soldiers force Diaa to stand facing a wall, saying they won’t leave unless he stops smiling.
On 22 July 2013, the Israeli military's Legal Advisor in Judea and Samaria responded to B'Tselem's letter regarding the grave incident in which soldiers detained a five-year-old boy in Hebron for two hours, after he threw a stone. In his letter, the legal advisor addressed the general issue of soldiers having to deal with a complex reality in which children under the age of criminal responsibility throw stones. Regarding the detention of Wadi' Maswadeh, the advisor justified the soldiers' conduct. B'Tselem sent a reply, emphasizing that the soldiers had acted in a fundamentally unacceptable way throughout the incident, and that acknowledging the complexity of the reality in which they operate cannot justify blatantly unlawful violation of children's rights and harm to their welfare.
On Sunday, 21 July 2013, B’Tselem camera volunteer Raed Abu Ermeileh filmed video footage of a police officer slapping a detainee, who appeared to be a minor. He slapped the detainee several times on the nape of the neck, while leading him out of a Hebron police station. The detainee was put inside a vehicle parked outside the station, three police officers got in, and the vehicle drove off. Its many attempts notwithstanding, B’Tselem has been unable to identify the detainee.
B'Tselem has written urgently to the Legal Adviser in Judea and Samaria, demanding his response to a grave incident in which soldiers detained a five-year-old boy in Hebron for two hours, after he threw a stone. The soldiers threatened the child and his parents, handcuffed and blindfolded the father, and handed the boy over to the Palestinian Police. Detaining a child below the age of criminal responsibility, especially one so young, has no legal justification.
On the morning of 20 March 2013, the Israeli military detained nearly 30 Palestinian minors on their way to school in Hebron, many of whom were under the age of criminal responsibility (12). Later that day, B’Tselem wrote to the Legal Advisor in Judea and Samaria, the Legal Advisor of the Israel Police and to the spokesperson for the Judea and Samaria Division regarding this issue. The officials confirmed that, further to a stone-throwing incident earlier that morning, the military apprehended 27 minors, including at least 14 under the age of 12. Later, the military released 20 of the minors to the custody of the Palestinian Authority. The other seven minors were questioned by the police. B’Tselem stressed the following: minors should not be questioned without their parents’ knowledge and the presence of an adult representative on their behalf; the police is duty-bound to inform parents immediately upon the detention of their children; it is unlawful to detain or transport minors under the age of 12.
Since 1994, when settler Baruch Goldstein massacred Moslem worshipers in the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the Israeli military has employed a "policy of separation" in Hebron. This is implemented primarily through severe restrictions on Palestinian movement in downtown Hebron, where most Israeli settlement outposts are located. Lately the military has further entrenched this policy by building a fence dividing a central street in half and only allowing Jews to use the paved side of the street while Palestinians must use a rough, unpaved passage.
Yesterday, Israeli military court judge, Maj. Daniel Kfir unconditionally released ‘Abd al-’Aziz Fakhouri, a young Palestinian man who was arrested almost a month ago in Hebron by soldiers out of uniform. The judge made the ruling after watching two videos. The first video was broadcast in the Israeli media, and the second was recently uncovered by B'Tselem. The judged ruled that the videos prove that the arrest was groundless, in contrast to an official IDF spokesperson announcement.
The Department for the Investigation of Police, in the Ministry of Justice (DIP) has informed B'Tselem that it decided to initiate disciplinary proceedings for "unlawful use of force" against a border police officer who was filmed kicking a nine year old Palestinian boy. The DIP decided not to file a criminal indictment against the officer. B'Tselem has written to the DIP to obtain the full investigation file to determine whether further steps are warranted.
On the afternoon of 16 January 2012 B'Tselem video volunteer, Diaa al-Hadad, was detained for a few minutes and released in Hebron. That same night, a unit of soldiers commanded by a first lieutenant came to the family's house and conducted a search. During the search, they made Diaa stand against a wall for quite some time.Diaa and his father, 'Abd al-Karim Hadad, documented the incident with their cameras. B'Tselem does not know the reason for the search, but what is known is that the soldiers did not take anything from the house, and no one in the family was arrested.
On Wednesday, 25 July 2012, a B’Tselem video volunteer filmed an Israeli officer head-butting 17-year-old Thair Ghanam in the head after an argument between the Palestinian youth and a soldier at a checkpoint. B’Tselem reported the incident and provided video documentation to the IDF Spokesperson’s office, and released the clip to the media. The next day, the Military Advocate General (MAG) announced that it had ordered the Military Police Investigative Division (MPIU) to open an inquiry into the incident.
Yesterday evening, 25.7.2012, a volunteer in B'Tselem's camera distribution project documented from his window a soldier detaining a number of Palestinian youths at the military checkpoint near the Beit Hadassah settlement in Hebron. One of the youths argued with the soldier. Later the video shows an officer holding the youth and taking him by force up the street, then head-butting him, breaking his nose. B'Tselem reported the incident to the IDF spokesperson's office and the Military Police Investigative Division (MPID).
On 29 June 2012, a B’Tselem volunteer documented an assault on a 9-year-old boy, ’Abd a-Rahman Burqan, by Border Police officers in Hebron. B’Tselem also took testimony about an attack on ‘Abd a-Rahman on 3 June 2012, which was not documented on video. In the first incident, a Border Police officer allegedly chased ‘Abd a-Rahman and, after catching him, stepped on his hand and kicked him, then released him. B’Tselem contacted the Department for the Investigation of Police (DIP) on 1 July 2012 about that incident. A few hours later, B’Tselem received video documentation of the second incident. After the media publicized the video, the Department for the Investigation of Police notified B’Tselem that it would begin investigating both incidents.
A B'Tselem video volunteer documented an Israeli Border Police officer kicking a Palestinian child while another officer held the boy. The incident took place on the 29th of June 2012 near the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in Hebron's H2 area. The video shows a Border Police officer ambushing a child from around the corner. As the child walks past, the officer grabs and drags him on the ground for a few seconds. A second Border Police officer then appears and kicks the boy.
On 29 March 2012 dozens of settlers took over a building’s third floor in the Old City of Hebron. On 2 April 2012 the army issued an evacuation order instructing the settlers to leave by the following morning. On 4 April 2012 the security services evacuated the new settlement and sealed the entrances. Since then, the army has placed a guard on the building. The settlement points in Hebron were created in violation of international law and seriously interfere with the human rights of the Palestinian residents. Hence, Israel is legally and morally obliged to evacuate the Hebron settlers and return them to its own territory.
B’Tselem has received testimony raising suspicion that Muhammad Maharmeh, 22, of Hebron, was abused at length by IDF soldiers. On 11 March 2012, soldiers went to the Maharmeh home in the Old City of Hebron and assaulted Muhammad and his father Ishaq, 50. According to their testimony, the soldiers took the two to an army base, where Muhammad was abused for several hours while his father, held separately, could hear him screaming. B’Tselem has called on the Military Police Investigation Unit to open an investigation into this incident.
To mark International Women’s Day, B'Tselem is issuing a collection of videos filmed by women who volunteer in its camera project. The images provide the viewer with a unique look into these women's daily lives. The women in the project live in a reality in which human rights violations are a daily occurrence. It is a reality most of us prefer not to see, yet the documentation is crucial and also transformative. The women photographers say that the cameras have changed their lives. They provide a tool for personal, social, and popular expression and they make these women effective human rights advocates in a traditional society in which the men usually take center stage.
On Friday, February 24, 2012, a demonstration against the closure of Shuhada Street to Palestinian pedestrians and vehicles was held in Hebron. Shortly before it ended, and completely unrelated to it, a funeral procession passed though the street on its way to the cemetery and encountered border police and army forces. The family tried to talk to the border police officers who were at the scene so that they would allow the procession to reach the cemetery, but to no avail. A few minutes later, a security force vehicle sprayed a foul smelling liquid (“skunk”) on the demonstrators, who had remained on the street, and on the deceased’s body and the mourners.