Masked soldiers enter Palestinian homes in Hebron in dead of night, order residents to wake their children, and photograph the children
On the night of 23 February 2015, Israeli troops arrived at the Wadi a-Nasarah neighborhood of Hebron and entered the apartments of ten families in two buildings. The soldiers demanded that the parents wake their children, and then proceeded to ask the children to state their names and photographed them. The incident was filmed by May Da’na and her brother-in-law Nayef Da’na, B'Tselem camera volunteers who live in one of the two buildings.
Night search of Nayef and Dalal Da'ana's home, Hebron, 3:10 A.M., 24 Feb. 2015
Night search of Sameeh and May Da'ana's home, Hebron, 3:20 A.M., 24 Feb. 2015
B’Tselem’s investigation shows that at about 1:30 A.M., military troops arrived at Hebron’s Wadi a-Nasarah neighborhood, which is near the security fence of the settlement of Kiryat Arba. The soldiers, who were masked and armed, then entered two buildings located by the gate in the settlement’s fence. The two buildings consist of a total of ten apartments, most of which are homes of families with children. The soldiers entered each apartment and ordered the parents to wake their children and bring them into the living room. In some cases, after parents voiced their objection, the soldiers allowed girls or young boys to carry on sleeping. In other cases the soldiers insisted that all the children be awakened. The soldiers photographed the children, asked them to state their name and age, and in some cases even questioned them and demanded to know whether they throw stones. Testimonies collected from the families by B’Tselem state that the soldiers conducted a brief search of all the apartments, each lasting a few minutes, but concentrated mainly on identifying and photographing the minors who live there. To the best of B'Tselem’s knowledge, no one was arrested during the raid not was anything found in the search.
Mirvat Qafishah, 37, a mother of six, told B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari about the soldiers’ search of her home:
We were asleep when, at about half past one in the morning, we heard knocking at the door and voices in the stairwell of our building. My husband ‘Adnan asked who it was at the door, and we heard someone say, “Open up, it’s the military.” ‘Adnan opened the door and four masked soldiers came inside. They pointed their guns at us and one of them ordered ‘Adnan to wake up our six children, aged four to 14, and have them line up along the wall in the living room. ‘Adnan tried to persuade the soldier to leave the children alone because they’re very young and would be terribly frightened to wake up and see the soldiers, but the soldier was adamant. ‘Adnan woke the children and one of the soldiers photographed them and wrote down their names. The children were shaking with fear.
Nayef Da’na, 53, a father of seven, also told B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bari about the soldiers’ entry into his home and the impact this had on his children:
The soldier ordered me to wake up the whole family. My wife tried to persuade the soldiers not to wake up the children. She explained that they were all small and would be scared to see the soldiers, but the soldier insisted that we wake them. My daughter Butul, who is seven, woke up and stood by the door of her room. She was very frightened. I calmed her down and woke my sons ‘Udai, 13, and Qusai, 12. I did not wake up my sons Suhaib, who is 10, or Tammer, who is two-and-a-half. The soldiers took ‘Udai and Qusai into the living room. One soldier asked them for their names and then photographed them. He also photographed me and my wife Dalal. My children were really scared, especially Qusai. After the soldiers left our home, Qusai started to cry.
Soldiers, masked and armed, entered the homes of civilians even though none were suspected of any wrongdoing. The sole objective of the operation was to terrorize and intimidate the parents and their children in an effort to ensure that the children not throw stones, and to make it easier for the military to apprehend them should they do so, after all. It is doubtful whether this raid is lawful, and it is not the first of its kind. B’Tselem has footage of other such night-time raids. The military cannot treat civilians – and certainly not four-year-olds – as though they were potential criminals. Nor is the military permitted to use its soldiers as a deterrent against civilians. Not only is this policy of security forces entering the homes of Palestinian civilians by night unjust and terrifying. It also serves to illustrate how casually and arbitrarily the lives of Palestinians living under occupation are disrupted and their rights violated. B’Tselem calls on the military to discontinue this policy without delay.
Children in yard outside the buildings where search was conducted. Background: Fence and buildings of settlement of Kiryat Arba. Photo: Manal al-Ja’abari, B’Tselem, 24 March 2015