On Friday, 9 October 2020, at around 6:00 P.M., about 20 settlers accompanied by soldiers arrived at the northeastern neighborhood of Burin, a village in Nablus District. The settlers stoned one of the neighborhood homes, and the five soldiers who escorted them fired stun grenades and tear gas canisters at residents who came to the family’s defense. At the same time, two jeeps belonging to the security coordinators of the Yitzhar and Har Bracha settlements chased four of the residents.
After the residents escaped to the olive groves, the jeeps stopped and the security coordinators got out. Har Bracha’s security coordinator fired several shots into the grove. At that point, village resident Muntasser a-Najar (22) drove by in his car. Har Bracha’s security coordinator signaled him to stop and ordered him to get out of the car. A-Najar stopped driving but refused to get out. The coordinator smashed his window with a rifle and fired two shots in the air. Frightened, a-Najar got out of the car. The coordinator grabbed him, put him in the jeep and drove him to a group of soldiers who had followed the settlers into the village. The coordinator took handcuffs from one of the soldiers, cuffed a-Najar and left the area with the other security coordinator.
At around 6:30 P.M., three soldiers led a-Najar on foot towards the nearby settlement of Har Bracha. There, they put him in a jeep and drove him to the Huwarah military camp, where he was ordered to sit on a bench, blindfolded and handcuffed, until midnight. He was then taken to the police station in Ariel and interrogated for about an hour. After the interrogation, the soldiers took him back to the Huwarah military camp.
A-Najar was held in the camp until Sunday afternoon, 11 October 2020, when soldiers led him on foot, handcuffed and blindfolded, to the Huwarah checkpoint. From there he hitched a ride to the entrance to Burin, where his father picked him up.
How easy it is for the Israeli military to arrest a person for three days – for no reason and under false allegations – simply because he is a Palestinian, because settlement security coordinators and soldiers decided so, and because in the reality Israel imposes in the West Bank, Palestinians’ rights are, by definition, forfeited.
W.Z., a neighborhood resident, followed the incident from her parents’ window and went out with her father to help a-Najar. In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’I the next day, she recounted:
I saw two jeeps chasing four young guys, who managed to escape into the trees. The jeeps stopped and I saw the security coordinators of Yitzhar and Har Bracha get out. I know them because they wander around our village a lot.
The Har Bracha coordinator fired several shots into the grove. At the same time, a car drove up from the western side of the village. The coordinator signaled the driver to stop and get out, but the driver motioned no with his hand. The coordinator broke the car window with his rifle and fired two shots in the air.
When I heard the shots, I was afraid he’d kill the guy. I went outside and rushed over without thinking twice. When I arrived, the guy wasn’t in the car and I was afraid he’d been injured. The Yitzhar security coordinator tried to get rid of me and told me to leave in Arabic. I asked him, “Where’s the guy? What did you do to him??”
Meanwhile, my father arrived. The security coordinator pointed his rifle at him and yelled, “Get out of here” in Arabic. He pushed both of us hard and I almost fell down. At that point, I heard stun grenades exploding near a neighboring house, which is under construction.
Then I saw Har Bracha’s security coordinator leading the driver away blindfolded. He put him in a jeep, and then both coordinators drove away, each in own his jeep. I was terrified. I went to the guy’s car and found his ID card. I saw his name is Muntasser a-Najar.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i three days after the incident, Muntasser a-Najar (22), a metal worker from Burin described his arrest:
I was on the way to visit my sister in the eastern part of the village. Suddenly, I saw the security coordinator of the Har Bracha settlement, whom I know because he’s always in our village, signaling me to stop and get out of the car. I stopped and signaled him that I didn’t want to get out. I was scared. Then he fired two shots in the air and broke my car’s left window with his rifle. I felt I was between life and death, and I had no choice but to get out.
The settler pulled me by the shirt and pushed me into his jeep, which was parked about 15 meters away from the road we were on. He took out a stun grenade and threw it at a nearby house under construction, and then he blindfolded me. I told him and the other settler I hadn’t done anything, that I was on the way to my sister’s house to fix some things, and that my toolbox was in the car. One of them told me to shut up and put me in the jeep. He drove off and under the blindfold, I could see that he’d stopped at a spot where soldiers were standing, behind Ibrahim ‘Eid’s home.
The Har Bracha security coordinator took handcuffs from one of the soldiers and handcuffed me. One soldier, who spoke excellent Arabic, asked me for my name and ID card number. I asked him why they were arresting me, and he said, “You’ll find out later.” There were more than 20 soldiers there, along with the security coordinators of Yitzhar and Har Bracha.
Later, almost everyone left and I stayed there with three soldiers. They sat me down on the ground and spoke to each other without paying me any attention. I heard the call to evening prayers, and it was getting dark. The soldiers led me on foot for about 400 meters towards the settlement of Har Bracha. There, they took my blindfold off, put me in a military jeep and then covered my eyes again.
They took me to the Huwarah military camp. I managed to see the way under the blindfold and realized where I was. They took me out of the jeep and put me in a small room where a soldier was sitting. He asked me for my name, ID card and phone number. They brought me a glass of water. Later, the soldiers took me to another room. I sat there alone on a bench, handcuffed and blindfolded, until around midnight. Then they drove me to the Ariel police station, where I was interrogated. I understood from the officers that the soldiers claimed they’d arrested me while I was throwing stones near Yitzhar. I flatly denied it because it didn’t happen. The interrogator told me I could call a lawyer and I called my father, who said he’d contact the Palestinian Prisoners Club.
They interrogated me for about an hour and then took my photo. I waited there until around 5:00 A.M. Then they took me back to the Huwarah camp, where they searched me and put me in a room. About 15 minutes later, they brought me breakfast. I didn’t eat it, because the food disgusted me. I was exhausted and slept for about two hours.
I stayed in that room until Sunday, 11 October 2020. No one spoke to me during those days. They only brought me food and drink. In the afternoon, they took me out and led me to the courtyard. One of the soldiers gave me back my phone. Two other soldiers led me on foot to the Huwarah checkpoint, and only there did they take the handcuffs and blindfold off.
I walked away from the checkpoint and hitched a ride to the Burin intersection. From there, my father picked me up and took me to my sister’s house. I was heading there when I was arrested. She cried and felt guilty. She’s six months pregnant, and I just wanted to see her and asked her not to worry about me. I also called my mother to tell her everything was OK.
I was exhausted. The next day, I went with my father to the Ariel police station because I was summoned for an interrogation there. We waited for about an hour until they received us. One of the officers told me that they'd decided to release me and started asking me questions about what happened exactly and where I’d been taken from. Then we went home.