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The entrance to the al-Fawwar refugee camp. Photo by Mussa Qawasma, Reuters, 15 Nov. 2020
From the field

Soldiers again raid Abu Hashhash home, beat two family members and take one to detention on a stretcher

About three months ago, on 25 June 2020, some 30 soldiers raided two homes belonging to the extended Abu Hashhash family in al-Fawwar Refugee Camp, southwest of Hebron, claiming they were there to arrest two members of the family. The soldiers assaulted three family members, broke one member’s nose and blew up a fuse box in a metal workshop on the building’s ground floor. Several days later, Sari Abu Hashhash (41) turned himself in to the military and was put in administrative detention for three months.

On 27 August 2020, at around 3:00 A.M., dozens of soldiers once again raided the building in the center of the refugee camp where seven brothers from the Abu Hashhash family live with their families. Some of the soldiers surrounded the building while others went inside and spread out on its three floors. About eight soldiers went up to Iyad (45) and Shirin (31) Abu Hashhash’s apartment on the second floor, where the couple live with their four children aged 3 to 12. On the way up, the soldiers came across two of the Abu Hashhash siblings, Ya’qub (33) and Ibrahim (42). One of the soldiers hit Ya’qub on the nose – which another soldier had broken during the last raid – tied his hands behind his back with zip ties and told him and Ibrahim to sit on the stairs.

The extended Abu Hashhash family's building in al-Fawwar Refugee Camp. Photo by Musa Abu Hashhash, B'Tselem, 12 October 2020.

Once in Iyad and Shirin’s home, the soldiers demanded Iyad’s cell phone and ID card. When he said he did not have a cell phone, they searched the apartment. The children were woken by the commotion. Three-year-old Aws tried to run to his mother, banged into the couch and his face started bleeding. One of the soldiers grabbed eight-year-old Tulin by the hand and led her to the living room.

When Iyad Abu Hashhash shouted at the soldiers to stop scaring the children, they dragged him to the kitchen. While one soldier blocked the entrance to the room, the others set on him and beat him. Shirin Abu Hashhash tried to enter the kitchen but was blocked, and she cried out for help. Her brother-in-law Ya’qub came into the apartment, freed himself of the zip ties and went into the kitchen to help his brother, but he, too, was attacked and beaten by the soldiers. At that point, Ibrahim and another brother, Ziad (58), tried to enter the kitchen through a back door, but the soldiers stopped them. The soldiers beat the two brothers for about 20 minutes, and one stepped on Iyad’s neck for several seconds. The soldiers handcuffed Iyad and led him outside limping. His brother Ya’qub was taken by the soldiers to the living room. After that, the soldiers laid Iyad down on a stretcher and left the neighborhood with him.

Iyad Abu Hashhash was taken to an Israel Security Agency interrogation facility in Ashkelon, Israel. His relatives learned from a lawyer working for the Palestinian Authority Prisoners’ Office and from publications in the Palestinian media that he contracted the coronavirus during his interrogation and was transferred to quarantine at Rimon Prison, also in Israel. After two weeks of quarantine, in which he apparently recovered his health, he was transferred back to the Ashkelon facility. Several days later, he was issued an administrative detention order for four months. As of the date of publication, he was being held at Ofer Prison. His brother Sari, too, is still in administrative detention.

Below are testimonies collected by B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash from members of his extended family on the day of the incident.

Shirin Abu Hashhash, a mother of four, described the raid during which her husband Iyad was arrested:

One of the soldiers, I think he was an officer, demanded Iyad’s ID card and phone. Iyad gave him the ID card and told him he doesn’t have a cell phone. The officer said he was going to search the house and told Iyad to come with him.

I was sitting in the living room. After a few minutes, the officer came back with two empty cell phone boxes, pointed to one of them and said he wanted the device that had been in it – Iyad’s. Iyad said he didn’t know where his phone was. I offered the officer mine, but he didn’t want it.

In the meantime, the children woke up. I saw one of the soldiers pulling my daughter, Tulin , by the hand. She was trembling with fear. My little boy, Aws, ran towards me in-between the soldiers and banged into the couch, and his face started bleeding.

Iyad yelled at the soldiers and demanded that they stop scaring the children. The soldiers got angry and dragged him into the kitchen. I could hear him crying out there. I understood he was being beaten.

I tried to go into the kitchen to help Iyad but one of the soldiers, who was standing at the door, stopped me and told me to go sit in the living room. A few minutes later, my brother-in-law Ya’qub came into the apartment and went into the kitchen. The door stayed half-open and I saw the soldiers attack him, too. I started screaming, and then my brother-in-law Ziad (58), who lives in the apartment next to ours, came in and tried to enter the kitchen through the side door. Mays, the wife of my brother-in-law Sari, who is still under arrest, came and took my children over to her apartment.

The soldiers kept on beating Iyad and Ya’qub in the kitchen. I tried to go in there several times, but the soldier who was standing at the door wouldn’t let me. I saw one of the soldiers step with his boot on Iyad’s neck. Iyad was lying on the floor. I was afraid he’d choke and ran downstairs to call for help, but there was no one on the street. I hurried back inside. They were still in the kitchen. After more than 20 minutes, everything calmed down. The soldiers opened the kitchen door and brought Ya’qub, who was barely conscious, into the living room.

The officer asked me again about Iyad’s phone. I said I didn’t know.

I saw soldiers leading Iyad to the stairwell, and he was so exhausted that he sat down on the stairs. Two soldiers grabbed him by the arms and led him outside. I heard Iyad say he would go by himself. I tried to run after them, but the soldiers ordered me to go into the apartment.

I went over to the window in my brother-in-law Ziad’s apartment and looked out to see what was going on. The soldiers took Iyad to the passageway between our house and the neighbor’s house. I saw them open up a stretcher and lay Iyad down on it, and then they carried him towards the valley behind our house. I went back to my apartment and the whole family gathered there. In the kitchen I saw blood on the floor, probably Iyad’s or Ya’qub’s.

In his testimony, Ya’qub Abu Hashhash recounted:

Ya’qub Abu Hashhash after the raid. Photo courtesy of the witness

I was woken by noise in the stairwell. I came out of the apartment to see what was going on, and a soldier punched me hard in the nose. He and another soldier tied my hands behind my back with zip ties and sat me down on the stairs leading to the top floor.

I sat on the stairs and saw soldiers going upstairs. I didn’t know what they wanted or what they were looking for. About 10 minutes later, my brother Ibrahim came and one of the soldiers sat him down beside me.

A few minutes later, I heard screaming from Iyad and Shirin’s apartment on the second floor. I got up and ran there. One of the soldiers tried to stop me, but I kept going and made my way into the apartment.

I heard Iyad screaming in the kitchen. I ripped off the zip ties and pushed my way into the kitchen to help him. He was lying on the floor and several soldiers were kicking and beating him. The soldiers jumped me, knocked me down and beat both of us. I heard Shirin yelling and trying to get into the kitchen and the soldiers yelling at her to go back to the living room. I saw my two brothers Ibrahim and Ziad try to come in through the other door, near the bathroom, but the soldiers shouted at them to stay where they were.

They beat us for more than 20 minutes. I started feeling that I was about to faint. I saw one of the soldiers put his boot on Iyad’s neck. Iyad was lying on the floor. Then the soldiers took me out of the kitchen and led me to the living room.

The soldiers got ready to leave and I saw Iyad sitting at the top of the stairs. Then he went down the stairs without any help.

After that, my brother Muhammad took me to al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron. I waited there until 9:00 A.M., when a specialist came and told me I had a broken nose and would have to come back in a few days for surgery.