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Faraj Tamimi (a-Zaru) after his release. Photo by Manal al-Ja’bari, B’Tselem
From the field

Soldiers attack Palestinians complaining of settler violence and arrest one for allegedly assaulting them

On Saturday, 25 September 2021, at around 6:30 P.M., four women and two girls – 9 and 12 years old – from the Tamimi (a-Zaru) family went to spend time on land that belongs to their family, which lies near their homes in the Jabal Jales neighborhood of Hebron. The outpost of Giv'at Gal was established about 50 meters from the plot, next to the settlement of Kiryat Arba. Shortly after they sat down, two teens arrived and began swearing at them. The women and girls ran home, with the teens giving chase and throwing stones at them, one of which hit Riham Tamimi (34) in the leg.

After the women got home, Riham's brothers Faraj (36) and Hamed (42) went to the military post at the entrance to the outpost to complain about the assault. When they got there, they saw two soldiers along with the two teens. The soldiers and teens argued with the brothers and swore at them. Meanwhile, about 30 more soldiers arrived and an officer ordered the brothers to go home.

When the two brothers reached the entrance to the path leading to their house, they noticed five soldiers following them. The argument resumed and the soldiers attacked Hamed. Faraj tried to fend them off and pushed two of the soldiers, at which point they pounced on him, beat him and kicked him all over his body. One of the soldiers threatened him at gunpoint and another tied his hands. Faraj was then taken to a nearby military base. While he was waiting there, one of the soldiers who had beaten him attacked him again with a metal object and threatened to kill him.

Several hours later, Faraj was taken to the police station at Beitar Illit. The two soldiers who had assaulted his brother and him rode with him in the jeep. Upon arrival, one of the soldiers was interrogated while Faraj stayed with the other soldier, who demanded that he not mention the assault in the interrogation. The second soldier was then interrogated, after which Faraj was interrogated. The interrogator accused him of assaulting soldiers and throwing stones, allegations he vehemently denied. After about an hour, the interrogator said he had a court hearing scheduled in six months and had to pay NIS 1,000 (~325 USD) in bail. Faraj returned home at 2:00 A.M.

With that, another routine day under the occupation came to an end. A family spending leisure time on their land had to flee violent teens, and appealing to soldiers for help led to severe violence, false arrest, interrogation carried out against all regulations and payment of hundreds of dollars.

In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari, Riham a-Tamimi (a-Zaru) (34), a mother of two, described what happened that day:

I’m a teacher at the Yusra a-Natsheh Boys’ School in Hebron, and I volunteer with B’Tselem’s camera project. I live with my mother Nura (65), my father Shaker (74) and my daughter Razan (9). My brothers and uncles live next door with their families. Our house is on the road leading to the outpost of Giv’at Gal, which was established 50 meters away.

On Saturday, 25 September 2021, at around 6:30 P.M., I went with my mother, my daughter Razan, and my cousins Rawnad (20), Hanin (18) and Shahd (12) to sit on our land, which is between our house and the outpost. Suddenly, two settlers, both about 15 years old, showed up and started swearing at us. They were holding pepper-spray canisters. We decided to go home.

The two settlers followed us to the entrance to the path that leads to our homes. On the way, they threw stones at us and we ran home. One of the stones hit me in the right leg. It hurt a lot. I started crying and shouting at the settlers. My brother Faraj (36) came and when the two settlers saw him, they immediately ran towards the outpost. Faraj saw that I was crying and was injured in the leg. He called my brother Hamed and they both went to the military post at the entrance to the outpost to tell the soldiers what happened. I stayed in the yard to see what was going on with them. I also tried to film it on my phone.

There were two soldiers at the post. The two settlers teens who had attacked us were standing next to them. I heard them arguing. There was shouting between my brothers and the two soldiers and the teens. Then another settler joined in. She looked about 40 years old. I saw more soldiers come to the post.

After about 20 minutes, I saw Hamed and Faraj come back. As soon as they got to the entrance to our path, five soldiers showed up and started arguing with them. I saw two of the soldiers attack Hamed and beat him. Faraj tried to defend him and pushed the two soldiers, but then the soldiers started beating him, too, and pointing their weapons at him.

My mother and I were shaking with fear. We were afraid the soldiers would shoot my brothers. Meanwhile, my uncles Rashed and Radi arrived. They tried to free Faraj from the soldiers. Two of the soldiers tied Faraj’s hands behind his back and led him towards the military base.

In his testimony, Faraj Tamimi (a-Zaru) (36), a father of six, described being beaten and arrested by the soldiers:

Faraj Tamimi (a-Zaru) presents the cuts on his body after his release. Photo courtesy of the witness
Faraj Tamimi (a-Zaru) presents the cuts on his body after his release. Photo courtesy of the witness

On Saturday evening, I got home after a day’s work in construction. As soon as I got to the path leading to our house, I saw two settlers, about 15 years old, chasing women from my family including my sister Riham (34) and my mother Nura (65). The settlers were throwing stones and swearing at them. I saw that one stone had hit Riham in the leg. The two settlers ran away when they saw me.

I called my brother Hamed (42) and we went together to the military post at the entrance to the outpost of Giv’at Gal, which is about 50 meters away from our home, to talk to the soldiers.

When we got to the post, there were two soldiers there along with the two settlers who had thrown the stones. I told the soldiers what they’d done. To my surprise, one of the soldiers swore at me and told us to get lost. We got into a loud argument with the soldiers and the settlers. Then another settler arrived, possibly the teens’ mother, and she joined in the argument. Meanwhile, I saw one of the soldiers talking on a two-way radio, and then about 30 more soldiers showed up. I spoke with an officer and told him what happened, but he also swore at Hamed and me and ordered us to leave.

When we reached the path leading to our house, we were surprised by about five soldiers who must have followed us. They yelled at us and swore at us, and we yelled back at them. While we were arguing, they jumped Hamed and started punching him. I got between Hamed and the soldiers in order to protect him. I tried to fend off the soldiers, shouted at them and pushed them. They immediately accused me of assaulting them and started hitting me, too. They beat me and kicked me all over my body and face, and my left eyebrow started bleeding.

Meanwhile, my uncles Rashed (65) and Radi (52) came out of the house and tried to calm the soldiers down and stop them attacking me. One soldier pressed his weapon to my chest and another twisted my arm behind my back. They tied my hands together with zip ties and led me to a spot near a military camp in the settlement of Kiryat Arba, where they sat me down on the ground and then swore at me and threatened to kill me.

While I was sitting there, one of the soldiers who had attacked Hamed and me hit me with a sharp metal object, which was like brass knuckles, in the right side of my chest and in my stomach. It hurt a lot and I started shouting. The soldiers pulled him off me. I was screaming in pain, and then two soldiers pulled me to my feet and put me in a military jeep. I sat there for about 10 minutes, and then one of the soldiers got into the jeep and threatened to kill me if I didn’t calm down. He took me out of the jeep and sat me down on the ground again. I sat there for about an hour

Then the soldiers led me into the camp and left me in the yard for about two and a half hours. Five soldiers watched over me and all that time, kept cursing and mocking me. Then a man in military uniform came and asked if I had any illnesses, and I said I didn’t. I told him I was in pain from the soldiers’ beating, especially the beating with the sharp metal object. He examined me, cleaned the wounds on my head, stomach and chest, and put some iodine on them.

Later, the two soldiers who had attacked Hamed and me came over and threatened to kill me, but a soldier who was there wouldn’t let them near me. I was put in a jeep and taken to the police station outside the settlement of Beitar Illit. The two soldiers who had attacked us rode with me in the jeep. Before we entered the police station, a police officer came over to us. He swore at me and shouted at me, “Keep your head down, eyes to the ground!” Then he told the two soldiers to leave me in the yard

One of the soldiers went into a room with the interrogator and I stayed outside with the other soldier, the one who had attacked me with the sharp object. He told me not to tell the interrogator he’d attacked me, but I refused. He insisted that I not mention it, but I said that the camp’s cameras had documented the attack and that I would file a complaint against him .

After about half an hour, the first soldier came out of the interrogation room and the second soldier went in. After he came out half an hour later, I was taken in for questioning. There was an interpreter there. An interrogator who introduced himself as Rafi spoke to me and accused me of assaulting soldiers and throwing stones. He threatened to arrest me and lock me up. I denied the allegations and told him that the soldiers and settlers were the ones who had attacked my family and me for no reason.

The interrogation lasted about an hour, and then the interrogator informed me that I had a court hearing scheduled for 5 April 2022. He told me I had to pay NIS 3,000 (~972 USD) in bail. My uncle Rashed came and talked to him. He managed to get the sum down to NIS 1,000 (~325 USD), which he paid on the spot. We left the station and got home around 2:00 A.M. I was exhausted and aching. I’m still in pain all over my body.