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From the field

Soldiers arresting Beit Rima resident violently attack him and his family, leave his brother unconscious in street

At around 2:30 A.M on Sunday, 18 January 2015, the military arrived at the Ya’qub family home in the village of Beit Rima, northwest of Ramallah. Entering the house, soldiers arrested ‘Ali Talji Ya’qub, 21, beating him and three of his relatives. The soldiers dragged ‘Ali’s brother, Ya’qub Talji Ya’qub, 31, out into the street and left him lying there, unconscious.

Ya’qub Talji Ya’qub. Photo: Iyad Hadad, B’Tselem, 26 January 2015

The building where the extended Ya’qub family resides has three residential stories, with a separate apartment on each floor, as well as a basement. In the testimonies they gave to B’Tselem field researcher Iyad Hadad, members of the family said that on the night of the incident forty or so people – including some visiting relatives – were sleeping in the house. Most were sleeping in the ground floor apartment. Talji Ya’qub, the father of the family, lives with his second wife, Sabah Salem, 45, and their young children in the second-floor apartment.  Two of Talji’s older sons – ‘Ali, 21, and Basel, 17 – were spending the night with them in the apartment, as the guests were sleeping on the ground floor.

At around 2:30 A.M., the family was awakened by a large group of soldiers entering the ground floor apartment of the building. Upon entering the house, a few soldiers headed directly to Ya’qub’s room, located at the far end of the apartment.

Rajaa Huda Ya’qub, 49, Ya’qub’s mother, who lives in that apartment, said that she woke up when she heard the door open. When she went out to the living room, she saw soldiers walking toward Ya’qub’s room who had been released from a lengthy prison-term three months earlier:

I saw five or six soldiers walking straight into my son Ya’qub’s room, as if they knew the rooms in the house and the people living in it. In the meantime, many soldiers started pouring into the house. I followed the soldiers to Ya’qub’s room and I saw them attack him and beat him. I started shouting at them: ‘For shame – What are you doing? My son just got out of prison a few months ago. Why are you beating him?’ The soldiers didn’t respond. They kept beating him and closed the door to the room so I wouldn’t see what they were doing. Two or three minutes later, I saw them violently dragging Ya’qub out by the neck and hands, all the while beating and kicking him.

Ya’qub described what happened to him:

I woke up, surprised to see soldiers standing over me. They got to my room which is at the far end of the apartment. Their faces were covered and they had guns with lasers. They started beating me, and turned the light on in the room. One of the soldiers asked me ‘What’s your name? Are you Ya’qub?’ Another soldier who was standing next to him answered: ‘That’s Ya’qub. That’s Ya’qub’. At that moment, the soldier who had asked me my name hit me in the chest with the butt of his gun. The same soldier then started climbing on top of me and choking me.

According to the testimonies, after the soldiers dragged Ya’qub outside, another group of soldiers went up to the second-floor apartment. They took the father Talji and his sons ‘Ali and Basel from there down to the ground floor.

The father, Talji Ya’qub, recounted the events:

They took us down to the ground floor violently, pushing and shoving, without telling us why. When we got there, they tried to arrest my son ‘Ali, who was barefoot and in pyjamas. I asked that they let him get dressed, and without waiting for an answer, I pulled ‘Ali away from their hands and pushed him into his room so he could get dressed. A few minutes later, I heard my daughter Muna crying that the soldiers were attacking ‘Ali. I went to his room quickly and saw a soldier strangling him, with great violence, and other soldiers beating him. I couldn’t bear the awful sight, so I tried to get the soldier off of ‘Ali, but the soldiers fought me and started beating me. They took me out into the living room and pinned me down to the floor.

While this was going on, soldiers were holding Ya’qub in front of the house. Ya’qub told B’Tselem that the soldiers continued beating him while they waited outside. Then soldiers brought his brother ‘Ali out as well.

I saw them bringing my brother ‘Ali. They knocked him down on the ground, about ten meters away from me. His hands were tied behind his back. The soldiers beat him and stepped on him, and then they started leading us away from the front of the house. We had gone just a few meters when I felt a strong blow from a hard object to the back of my head. I got dizzy and lost consciousness.

The soldiers took ‘Ali into custody and left Ya’qub unconscious on the ground. After the soldiers left, relatives and neighbors who had heard of the military’s raid on the house started coming over. A relative arrived at the scene at around 3:15 A.M., after the incident ended, and found Ya’qub lying unconscious about thirty meters away from the house. Relatives brought him home and called a doctor who lives in the village. The doctor ordered Ya’qub be taken to a hospital in Ramallah due to neurogenic shock and respiratory distress. Ya’qub was taken to hospital, still unconscious, where he underwent several tests. He was discharged several hours later. His brother ‘Ali was arrested and subsequently indicted. On 14 April 2015 ‘Ali was still being held in custody for the duration of the proceedings.

B’Tselem has written to the Military Advocate for Operational Matters demanding an investigation of the incident.