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Soldier violently arrests B'Tselem worker, Nasser a-Nawaj’ah, on his family’s land in southern Hebron Hills

Update: On 13 May 2013 the MAG Corps informed B'Tselem that the after concluding the investigation, a decision was made to close the case. investigation file had been closed. The ground...
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Soldier violently arrests B'Tselem worker, Nasser a-Nawaj’ah, on his family’s land in southern Hebron Hills

Update: On 13 May 2013 the MAG Corps informed B'Tselem that the after concluding the investigation, a decision was made to close the case. investigation file had been closed. The grounds for closing the case were not given. B'Tselem applied to the MPIU, requesting a copy of the investigative file in order to examine how it was handled.

On the morning of 18 November 2010, 'Aliaa a-Nawaj'ah, 12, and her brother Hamzah, 14, Palestinians from Susiya in the southern Hebron Hills, were grazing sheep on their family's land, near which the Susiya settlement was built.  According to 'Aliaa's testimony, around 7:30 A.M., an army jeep pulled up and two soldiers got out. They cuffed the two children with plastic handcuffs and led them to the jeep. Later, the soldiers told the children's relatives that the two had thrown stones at them. They released 'Aliaa after about ten minutes, and Hamzah soon after.

While the children were being detained, many members of their family came to the spot. Among them were Nasser a-Nawaj'ah, a B'Tselem field researcher, and Ahmad a-Nawaj'ah, who volunteers in B'Tselem's camera distribution project. The two soldiers saw Nasser filming the events, went over to him and pushed him, telling him that he was forbidden to be there. As noted, the land belongs to the Nawaj'ah family. The soldiers did not show any order closing the area. Nasser clarified that the army allows the family to be in their own land and continued filming.

One of the soldiers then bent Nasser's arm and knocked him to the ground. The rest of the event was filmed by Ahmad, and also by Jamal a-Nawaj'ah, who picked up Nasser's camera. The soldier pressed his knee against Nasser's back for several moments, ignoring Nasser's cries that he was hurting him, and his emphasis that he works for B'Tselem. The soldier then handcuffed Nasser.

'Aliaa and Hamzah a-Nawaj'ah with their sheep. Photo: Nasser a-Nawaj'ah, B'Tselem, 22 Dec. 2010
'Aliaa and Hamzah a-Nawaj'ah with their sheep. Photo: Nasser a-Nawaj'ah, B'Tselem, 22 Dec. 2010

Nasser was taken to a nearby army base, where he was examined by an army doctor. He was then taken to the police station in Kiryat Arba, where he was questioned on suspicion of attempting to avoid arrest and for disobeying soldiers' orders. He was then released on personal bond of NIS 2,000, suffering from chest pain. B'Tselem wrote to the Judge Advocate General's Office, demanding a Military Police investigation into the behavior of the soldiers. The Civil Administration notified a-Nawaj'ah that, due to procedures being taken against him following the complaint filed by the soldiers, he is forbidden entrance into Israel until further notice.

This is not the first time that security forces have treated B'Tselem field researchers and camera project participants violently and have disturbed them in their work. These acts by the security forces breach army orders, which stipulate that there is no lawful impediment to filming, including during operational activity, except when the filming is intended to obtain confidential information or impedes the soldiers in carrying out their functions.