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Illustration: Soldiers with attack dogs in village of Beit Umar. Still from video by Muhammad ‘Awwad, B’Tselem, 23 December 2014
From the field

Israeli soldiers set dogs on elderly Palestinians and teenagers in their homes in Jenin R.C.

On Monday, 7 May 2018, at 4:00 A.M., a group of around ten soldiers with two attack dogs arrived in Jenin Refugee Camp. The soldiers forcibly entered two homes, woke up all the residents, turned the homes topsy-turvy, and detained two people.

The soldiers first went to the home of the Ya’qub family in the al-Hadaf neighborhood; it is home to Zahra Ya’qub, 85, her son Salah, 44, his wife Sabah, 40, and their three children, the youngest a girl aged 17. The soldiers knocked at the door, and when Salah answered they muscled in, and assaulted the couple with dogs that knocked down Sabah. Only then did the soldiers restrain the dogs.

One soldier kicked Sabah while she was lying on the ground and shoved her into the bedroom. Salah pulled her into the bedroom and then helped his mother in. Two soldiers stood by the door and prevented the members of the family from leaving. In the meantime, the soldiers went into the other rooms in the house, conducted searches, and arrested one of the sons, ‘Abd a-Rahman, 20, who has intellectual disabilities. The soldiers led ‘Abd a-Rahman into the bedroom, handcuffed with plastic cable ties. They allowed him to say goodbye to his parents before blindfolding him and taking him away.

Next, at about 4:30 A.M., the soldiers went to the home of the Salit family in the Tal’at a-Khubz neighborhood. Ten people live in the two-story home: Hashem (73); his son Samir (46) with his wife and seven of their children, three of whom are minors aged 7 to 13. The soldiers broke down the front door and entered the ground floor, where Hashem Salit lives with two of his grandsons, Hashem and Muhammad. The soldiers, accompanied by one dog, assaulted the grandfather. The dog knocked the 73-year-old man onto his back and scratched his arms. The soldiers left him lying there injured. They moved on, with the dog, to the room where the two grandsons were sleeping. Here they set the dog on Muhammad (13). The dog knocked the boy to the floor and bit his finger through the muzzle. The soldiers handcuffed Muhammad, threw him to the floor, and covered him with sheets to keep him from seeing what was going on. Then they let the dog approach him and sniff him. Next, they arrested his brother, Hashem, 21, and left the room. The soldiers searched the home; only about 15 later was Samir able to come and release Muhammad. 

Night raids by the Israeli military on the homes of Palestinians in the West Bank have long since become a regular part of the routine imposed by the occupation regime. In these raids, everyone in the home, including small children, is made to get out of bed. In this instance, the soldiers even had dogs with them, and they used them to assault some of the people in the home and terrorize the others. The soldiers exhibited marked indifference and did not offer aid to those injured. This conduct is not a local initiative by individual soldiers or commanders in the field. It is part of the Israeli military’s policy in the West Bank. Therefore, it is abundantly clear that no one will be held to account in any way for what happened in Jenin R.C. last month.

In testimonies taken by B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi on 9 May 2018, family members described the raids on their homes:

Raid on the home of the Ya’qub family

Sabah Ya’qub at her home in Jenin refugee camp. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B'Tselem, 9 May 2018

Sabah Ya’qub, 40, a married mother of three, is a homemaker. She related:

At about 4:00 A.M. on Monday, 7 May 2018, my husband and I were sleeping in our bedroom. We woke up when we heard dogs and people outside our home. We realized they were soldiers when we heard them trying to break down the door. My husband got up to open the door before the soldiers tore it down. I was standing at the bedroom’s doorway, which leads into the living room and the foyer. My husband’s mother, who is 85, was sleeping in the living room. As soon as my husband opened the door, a group of soldiers stormed in with two dogs. One of the dogs went for my husband and the other went for me.

I was really scared. I fell down and couldn’t move. The soldiers managed to restrain the dogs. In the meantime, one of the soldiers kicked my leg as I lay on the floor and dragged me along the floor toward the bedroom. My husband came and pulled me into the bedroom. My mother-in-law also came into our bedroom. Two soldiers stood at the doorway prevented us from leaving. The three of us were trapped in there.

I think I lost consciousness for a few minutes. I came round after my husband sprayed perfume and water on me. Last year I had a stroke and I’m paralyzed in my right leg and hand. The doctors told me to avoid stressful situations.

The soldiers arrested my son, ‘Abd a-Rahman. He’s 20 years old. I saw they were taking him outside. His hands were handcuffed behind his back. I managed to kiss him before they took him away from our home. I don’t know what’s happening with him.

Salah Ya’qub, 44, a married and father of three, works for the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry. He recounted:

Salah Ya’qub. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B'Tselem, 9 May 2018

At about 4:00 A.M. on the morning of Monday, 7 May 2018, my wife and I woke up when we heard soldiers outside our front door, which is next to our bedroom. We got up immediately.

I went out of the bedroom to the foyer. It sounded as though the soldiers were trying to tear the door from its place. My mother, 85, was in the living room, where she sleeps. I opened the door and immediately two dogs sprang inside. One of the dogs came at me. I tried to fend it off and pinned it between my legs. The other dog jumped my wife, knocking her down. She had a stroke last year, and since then she’s been very sensitive. She isn’t supposed to be in stressful situations.

Then the soldiers got the dogs under control. One of the soldiers kicked my wife as she lay on the floor, to get her into the bedroom. I pulled her into the room and my mother came inside too. As soon as were in the room, two soldiers went over to the doorway and stood there to make sure we wouldn’t come out. We were in there for a few minutes, while the rest of soldiers went into the other rooms. They arrested my son ‘Abd a-Rahman, 20. He has intellectual disabilities because of a head injury he suffered as a child. They handcuffed him with plastic cable ties and brought him into the room. We managed to give him a hug him and then they took him away. They blindfolded him and went off. 

Raid on the home of the Salit family:

Hashem Salit, 73, is retired. The widowed father of seven recalled:

Hashem Salit. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B'Tselem, 9 May 2018

I live in the Tal’at al-Khubz neighborhood in Jenin R.C. with my son Samir’s family. We have a two-story house. I live on the first floor with two of my grandsons: Hashem, 21, and Muhammad, 13. My son lives on the second floor with his wife and their five young children.

When the soldiers arrived I was preparing for morning prayers. It was 4:30 in the morning and the muezzin was calling to prayers. Suddenly I heard something at the door, as if someone was trying to open it. I went out of the room I sleep in with my two grandsons and went into the living room. The noise got louder – it sounded like someone was trying to break down the door. I realized they were soldiers. I was scared to go near, because the door is made of metal and it’s old and heavy. I stood in the middle of the living room, and then they broke down the door, destroying it. At the same moment a dog jumped me and knocked me down, I fell on my back. The dog was muzzled, but it scratched both my arms with its claws and I started to bleed.

Then about ten soldiers came inside. The soldiers pulled the dog away from me and led it to the bedroom. I was lying there on the floor but they paid no attention to me. I couldn’t see what was happening inside the room. A few minutes later they came out with my grandson Hashem and led him to the second floor. About 15 minutes later they came back down with my son Samir. He helped me get up. Then they left the house with Samir and with Hashem, who was handcuffed. Samir came back and called for an ambulance to take me to hospital. I got some first aid and was discharged. I still have scratches on both my arms from the dog.

The soldiers didn’t behave like people do. It was inhuman.

Muhammad Salit, 13, was in the room with his brother Hashem Salit when he was arrested. He recalled the incident:

Muhammad Salit. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B'Tselem, 9 May 2018

I’m in the eighth grade. On Monday, 7 May 2018, early in the morning, I was sleeping at home with my grandfather Hashem and my brother Hashem on the ground floor. The rest of the family were on the second floor.

At about 4:30 A.M. we all woke up when we heard noises at the door. My grandfather got out of bed and went into the living room to call out that he was opening the door. But he stopped two or three meters from the door. I think he was afraid that they’d force open the door and he’d get hit by it.

My brother and I stood and waited in our room. The bedroom door was open. It leads into the living room and we could see the front door. The soldiers broke into the house. First a big dog came in and then the soldiers followed. The dog jumped on my grandfather, knocking him down onto his back and scratching him. Only after that, the soldiers pulled the dog away from grandfather and took it into the bedroom we were in. As soon as the dog came into the room, it went for me. I tried to push it away and my hand touched its mouth. It had a muzzle on with holes in it, and I guess my finger got inside one of the holes and the dog bit me. Two soldiers grabbed me and threw me onto the floor. They handcuffed my hands behind my back and let the dog sniff my body. Then they covered me with sheets from the bed so that I wouldn’t be able to see anything. I heard them grabbing my brother and taking him out of the room. I stayed there like that on the floor for about 15 minutes, until my father came and untied me. He called for an ambulance and we went to hospital. 

Samir Salit, 46, a married and father of eight is a poultry merchant. He recalled:

Samir Salit. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B'Tselem, 9 May 2018

That night I heard noises outside our home. At first I thought it was the wind, but when the noise got louder I realized that soldiers were pounding at the front door. I got out of bed and checked that everyone was okay in their rooms on the second floor. In the meantime the soldiers broke down the front door story and I realized that they’d come inside.

I waited in my apartment for a few minutes, and then four soldiers came up with my son Hashem. They asked for his identity card and cell phone. I gave them his cell phone, but his identity card was in my car, which was parked outside the front entrance. So I asked them if I could go get it. They accompanied me, and as we came down to the first floor, I saw my father just lying on the floor, his arms bleeding. I helped him to sit up and asked the soldiers why they had hurt him. They didn’t answer.

We went out to the car, and after I gave the soldiers my son’s ID, they told me to go back inside and not to come out. The soldiers took my son, his hands handcuffed behind his back and his head covered, and moved away from the house. I went back inside to check that my father was all right. Then I saw my son Muhammad lying on the floor, his hands handcuffed behind his back. His head was covered with sheets and blankets. I took the cable ties off him and saw that he was bleeding from one finger and from his nose. I called for an ambulance that took him and my father to hospital. They were treated, it didn’t take long, and we came home.

Nothing can justify the way the soldiers used the dogs. We are unarmed civilians. My son is in Megiddo Prison now. We haven’t seen him since then.