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Israeli soldiers violently remove Palestinian teens from Hebron street to enable settler march, and later assault one again

On 29 May 2017, between 2:00 and 3:00 P.M., the Israeli military allowed hundreds of settlers to march in procession along the Palestinian neighborhood of Jaber in Hebron to celebrate “Jerusalem Day”, commemorating what Israel considers to be the city’s reunification in the 1967 war. Soldiers ordered all Palestinian shopkeepers in the area to close their shops. At that time, Muhammad Jaber (14) and his brother Baraa (17) were near a grocery store next to their home on the main street of the neighborhood. When the procession drew near, soldiers came over to the store owner and ordered her to close the shop. Then the soldiers went over to the two brothers and demanded they go into their house. In video footage captured by a B’Tselem volunteer, two soldiers are seen going over to the two Palestinian teens. After a short exchange, one is seen pushing Muhammad and then making Baraa, who was sitting on the stoop of the grocery store, get up and pushing him, too. The soldiers forcefully removed the brothers from the street, one of them pushing them violently over and over.

In a testimony he gave to B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash on 1 June 2017, Muhammad related:

Muhammad Jaber (14). Photo by Musa Abu Hashhash, B’Tselem, 9 June 2017Suddenly, soldiers who were accompanying the march came over and ordered my brother and me to get lost and go inside our house. We both objected and said: “Why should we go? We’re sitting outside our house”. The soldiers pushed us along a side street, some distance from the main street where the settlers were marching. After the procession moved on, I went back with Baraa.

About twenty minutes after they were made to leave, the two brothers came back to the street. Baraa sat down once again next to the grocery store and Muhammad went into their house. About half an hour later, Muhammad went to a bicycle repair shop several hundred meters away to buy a tire for his bicycle. On the way he met a friend of his, Basel Jaber (14), who started walking with him. The two then ran into the soldiers who had earlier assaulted Muhammad and his brother.

In a testimony he gave to B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash on 8 June 2017, Basel Jaber described what happened then:

Basel Jaber (14). Photo by Musa Abu Hashhash, B’Tselem, 9 June 2017I had only gone a short way with Muhammad when two soldiers who were standing in front of a deserted house in the neighborhood detained him. I moved back and watched. I heard the two soldiers call him “Abu Ali” [i.e., “You think you’re such a hotshot?”]. They started kicking his legs. I saw one of them twist his arm behind him. I moved even further away. In the meantime, three other soldiers showed up. Muhammad was crying and trying to get out of the grip of the soldier who was twisting his arm. One soldier called me to come over. I ran away to the road and hid for about half an hour. I asked kids who came along from the spot where the soldiers were holding Muhammad whether the soldiers were still there, and they said the soldiers had left.

Muhammad got home about an hour after he left, once the soldiers let him go.

There is no justification for the thuggish behavior of the soldiers, who violently removed the two minors from their street to enable the settler march to proceed undisturbed and then detained and assaulted 14-year-old Muhammad Jaber again. This conduct illustrates soldiers’ regular abuse of their power and authority in the Occupied Territories, in the sure knowledge that they will be backed by their superiors. As usual, no one will be held accountable for the assault on Muhammad and Baraa Jaber. This is life under occupation.