Central Hebron: Soldiers assisted by settlers violently arrest young Palestinian man and assault residents in Jaber neighborhood
On 3 June 2021, at around 6:00 P.M., several soldiers arrested an 18-year-old Palestinian from the Jaber neighborhood in Hebron and beat him. During the violent arrest, four settlers arrived, three of them armed. The settlers took an active part in the young man’s arrest and prevented his family from approaching the scene.
Over the course of the incident, settlers pepper-sprayed three Palestinians in the face. At one point, after a Palestinian youth threw an empty glass bottle that hit a settlers in the arm without injuring him, some of the soldiers advanced while threatening neighborhood residents with their weapons. One even fired in the air, causing panic among the adults and children.
Several police officers arrived and began pushing the residents away. A Red Crescent ambulance called to the scene evacuated the victims of the pepper spray attack to the ‘Alia Governmental Hospital. The soldiers put the young man they had arrested into a military jeep, and then they and the settlers left.
‘Aref Jaber (46), a neighborhood resident and father of six, recounted:
I live in the Jaber neighborhood. I’m an activist with Human Rights Defenders and am constantly documenting violations by soldiers and settlers. On 3 June 2021, at around 6:00 P.M., I was at ‘Abed Dib Jaber’s shop, which is 30 meters south of my house, on the road leading to [the settlement of] Kiryat Arba.
A kid from the neighborhood came and told me that soldiers were beating a guy from the neighborhood by the military checkpoint that's in front of my house. I ran over there and started filming what was happening on my cellphone. I saw two soldiers trying to overpower our neighbor Wasim (18). I didn’t know why. Ofer Ohana was also standing there and filming on his phone. After two minutes, four armed settlers arrived, two of them armed with an M-16 rifle and one with a handgun.
I saw the soldiers violently assaulting Wasim and trying to handcuff him. They knocked him to the ground, and then one of them pressed his knee down on his neck. One of the settlers helped the soldiers and tried to grab Wasim's legs. The other three stopped Wasim’s relatives from coming closer. One of the armed settlers also had a pepper spray can, and he was threatening anyone who came near with it. Meanwhile, Wasim’s brother ‘Alaa (26) arrived and tried to help his brother. One of the settlers pepper-sprayed him in the face, and he fell down on the road.
At that point, one Palestinian threw an empty bottle at the settlers. Then I saw two soldiers cock their weapons and start acting hysterically, chasing residents who had come to help the guy and see what was happening. One of the soldiers fired a shot in the air, and I saw other soldiers trying to rein in another soldier who had cocked his weapon while chasing women and children. I tried to film what was happening on my phone. Then a settler pepper-sprayed me in the face.
After I was sprayed, I sat down on the road and screamed in pain. My whole face was burning. My wife and kids started pouring water and milk on it. Another neighbor took my phone and continued filming. A police car arrived, and two officers got out and started shoving people. Another troop of soldiers also arrived, and they helped the other soldiers handcuff Wasim. Wasim looked like he was suffocating from the pressure the soldier was applying with his knee. I saw Wasim’s mother and sisters crying and begging the soldiers to release him after they put him in the jeep.
At that point, the soldiers acted very violently towards all the women there. The soldier who had cocked his weapon pointed it from point-blank range at Suzan Jaber, a B’Tselem volunteer. I was afraid he would shoot her. Her son Mahmoud put his arm around her and led her away from the soldier into their yard. A neighbor of mine arrived and the settler pepper-sprayed him in the face, too. One of the residents called a Red Crescent ambulance that took Fawaz and ‘Alaa to hospital. I refused to go, because I was afraid the soldiers would come into my house and arrest my sons.