In early April 2015 the Abu Haya family were subjected to repeated threats and harassment by Israeli security forces in Hebron. Among other things, soldiers detaining Maher Abu Haya (14) for alleged involvement in a stone-throwing incident near his home. After the boy denied the allegations, soldiers threatened to arrest him if he is seen once more in the vicinity of a stone-throwing incident, regardless of his involvement. For a week, soldiers came time and again to the family’s home and harassed them. The family, volunteers in B’Tselem’s camera project, filmed some of the incidents.
Hebron city center
The severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the vicinity of the settlements in Hebron encourage the arbitrary and regular harassment of the residents. B'Tselem volunteer Raed Abu a-Rmeileh filmed a video showing what happened to an ice cream delivery intended for a grocery store owned by Anwar Maswdeh.
On 10 March ‘15, soldiers entered the home of ‘Imad and Fayzeh Abu Shamsiyeh, B'Tselem volunteers in Hebron. They awoke the children, photographed them, viewed footage filmed by the couple of life in Hebron and of Israeli security forces, and confiscated a hard disk and a memory card with data. Photographing and documentation are permitted in the West Bank, including of soldiers. B'Tselem urges the army to immediately return the confiscated property unharmed, and refrain from harassing its volunteers or hampering the work of photographers.
The military resumed its segregation on the main street of a-Salaimeh neighborhood, in force from Sep. 2012 to Mar. 2013 when it was abandoned following to the airing of footage by B'Tselem. The military again bans Palestinians from the main part of the street, directing them to a narrow side road. This is part of the military’s overall policy of severe restrictions on Palestinian movement in downtown Hebron, implemented ever since the 1994 massacre of Muslim worshippers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs perpetrated by settler Baruch Goldstein.
Late at night on 23 Feb. 2015 Israeli troops entered 10 neighboring apartments in Hebron. They demanded that the children be awakened, asked their names and photographed them. B’Tselem volunteers who live there filmed the incident. The military cannot treat civilians–and certainly not children–as potential criminals. Not only is this policy of entering Palestinian homes by night unjust and terrifying. It illustrates how casually and arbitrarily the lives of Palestinians under occupation are disrupted and their rights violated. B’Tselem calls on the military to discontinue this policy without delay.
Bab a-Zawiya checkpoint monitors passage of Palestinians from Tel Rumeidah to downtown Hebron. Its closure collectively punished hundreds for the actions of a few individuals. The checkpoint, like other restrictions on Palestinian movement in Hebron, serves no security purpose and is part of Israel’s separation policy in Hebron. The military must remove this and other unnecessary checkpoints in central Hebron. As long as the checkpoint remains, the military must enable regular passage and refrain from collective punishment.
On 4 Dec. 2014 two settlers were driving near Wadi a-Nasara checkpoint when a Palestinian youth threw stones at them. They got out of the car and attempted pursuit. Footage by a B’Tselem camera volunteer shows that when the pursuit proved unsuccessful, they vandalized nearby Palestinian property. Police and soldiers who arrived at the scene did not detain the two and allowed them to leave unhindered. This incident is part of the reality of live in Hebron, with the military and the police standing by as settlers take the law into their own hands.
Yesterday, soldiers briefly detained a developmentally disabled Palestinian boy, who is under the age of criminal responsibility, on suspicion that he had thrown stones. The boy, A. a-Rajbi, (full name withheld in interest of privacy) who will be 12 in a month, was detained after Palestinian children threw stones at soldiers on the main road of the Jabel Johar neighborhood in Hebron, close to the settlement of Kiryat Arba. A-Rajbi was handcuffed, blindfolded, and held on the floor of an army jeep for some 15 minutes until his father arrived and convinced the soldiers to release his son, who is mentally disabled and cannot speak.
On 16 Aug. settlers and Palestinians began throwing stones at each other behind the Beit Hadassah settlement in the city of Hebron. The settlers were throwing stones from a spot near a military guard post, yet the soldiers stationed there did nothing to stop them. Nonetheless, the soldiers used crowd control measures against the Palestinians who were throwing stones, and even detained two, one of them a boy. The military is duty-bound to take action to enforce the law on both parties. Refraining from action against violent settlers conveys a message that settlers may attack Palestinians and their property and get military protection to do so.
On Fri. 28 Mar. 2014 soldiers went up to the Sidrs’ roof. They filmed Shadi Sidr, his brother and a friend in the street below and aimed their weapons at them. Sidr demanded the soldiers explain their presence; they demanded he leave. After the filmed exchange, the soldiers unjustifiably detained the three men for hours. Soldiers are allowed virtually unrestricted access to Palestinian homes, thereby violating people’s privacy and property. B’Tselem sent a complaint to the Legal Advisor in Judea and Samaria regarding the unjustified detention.
The short film “Smile, and the World Will Smile Back”, was accepted by North America's largest documentary film festival, Toronto's Hot Docs festival. Filmed by the al-Haddad family of Hebron and made in collaboration with B'Tselem's camera project was recently shown at at the Berlin International Film Festival.
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.
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.