In night raid on the Da'na family’s building in Hebron, soldiers hold 100 members in guest hall until morning and ransack apartments
On Sunday, 10 October 2021, at around 3:30 A.M., dozens of soldiers raided an apartment building that belongs to the extended Da'na family. The building is home to 102 members of the family, including 52 minors. It lies in the al-Harika neighborhood of Hebron and is surrounded by a fence separating it from the settlement of Kiryat Arba.
The soldiers entered all 12 apartments in the building, woke every family and searched the premises. They attacked one of the family members , Muhammad (28). They also searched the yard and then brought Muhammad and his brother Yazid (29) into it, handcuffed and blindfolded. After the search, the soldiers led the families to the diwan (guest hall) in the yard. When some of the children asked to go to the bathroom, soldiers led them into the apartments unaccompanied by an adult from their family. Only the grandparents – Nu'man (78) and Samiha (69) – were allowed to stay home.
The soldiers held the entire extended family in the diwan until 8:30 A.M. and then left, taking Yazid Da'na with them. He was held in custody for 10 days and released without charges after paying a NIS 1,500 (~475 UDS) bail. After the sleepless night, the children did not go to school and the adults lost a day's work.
A month earlier, on 3 September 2021, soldiers were filmed entering the building in the evening, instructing the parents to gather all the children on a balcony, and photographing them on the grounds they had thrown stones at soldiers. After photographing the children, the soldiers left.
Military incursions in the dead of night into Palestinians' homes have long since become part of the routine the occupation regime imposes in the West Bank. Soldiers enter homes, wake up entire families including children and babies, vandalize their belongings, and strew chaos in and around the house. The families are left stunned and terrified in a ransacked home, after a sleepless night. These incursions utterly ignore the privacy of the families and the disruption to their lives.
B'Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash collected testimonies from members of the Da'na family, who related what happened that night:
In his testimony, Nu'man Da'na (78) recounted:
My wife Samiha (69) and I live on the top floor of the family's building. Our married sons live with their families in the building. In total, 102 people live here, most of them women and children. I have a heart condition and have surgery twice. My wife is diabetic and has high blood pressure.
I was woken by banging on the door. When I opened it, I saw soldiers. An officer told me in Arabic that he wanted to talk outside. I explained to him that I’m a sick man and that he could tell me what he wanted inside the house. He asked me who owns the building and land. I said they belong to my family and me. He said that in that case, I'm responsible for everything that happens here. I answered that we've never had any problems.
Meanwhile, my son Nayef (48) came into the apartment. He kissed my hands. When the officer saw that, he said I looked like a respectable man and that he expected me to tell the truth. He made it clear that they were looking for weapons and that I should hand them over. I explained to the officer that I've never held weapons, and neither have my sons. I went inside and sat down in the living room next to my wife, who had woken up in the meantime. I left the door open.
The officer wanted to come in with several soldiers and a dog to search the apartment. I told him they could search it, but without the dog. I explained that we're Muslims and that dogs are impure to us, but he insisted on bringing it along. The officer and the soldiers came in with the dog and started searching the place. They went through all our belongings.
After the search, we stayed in the apartment and the soldiers left. They stayed in the yard. I saw some of them digging in the ground opposite the house. They damaged the wall and the wooden door of the shed by the entrance. The soldiers stayed on our property until 8:30 A.M.
In her testimony, Mirvat Da'na (43), a married mother of seven, described that night:
My husband 'Adnan (58) and I live in the building with our children, ranging in age from three to 18. That night, I was woken by banging on our apartment door. I opened it and saw soldiers, who told me they wanted to search the apartment. I told them they couldn't come in because my husband wasn't home. They ignored me, and more than 10 soldiers came inside with a dog. They spread out in every corner. The officer ordered me to sit with my seven children in the living room and not move.
After a short while, the soldiers ordered us to go with them to the diwan in the yard, which the family uses for social events. On the way there, we heard Muhammad (28), my brother-in-law's son, shouting inside their apartment. I thought the soldiers were attacking him. When we got to the diwan, some of my brothers-in-law were already there with their families. There were more than 40 people there, and then the soldiers brought in more members of the family. There were about 100 of us there.
They held us in the diwan until 8:30 A.M. Meanwhile, the soldiers searched all the apartments and storerooms. When my children asked to go to the bathroom, soldiers took them to one of the apartments but wouldn’t let any of us adults go with them. Through the window, we saw soldiers leading Muhammad and Yazid, my brother-in-law’s sons, outside with their eyes covered and hands tied.
None of us slept a wink that night. The children didn't go to school in the morning and the adults didn't go to work. The soldiers only let us go at 8:30 A.M., and then they left. When I got home, I found the house turned upside down. It took me the whole day to tidy up.
This isn't the first time soldiers have raided our homes in the middle of the night and woken us up. Sometimes, they hold us for hours on end. The last raid was on 3 September 2021, when soldiers came to the building and took all the children out to the yard, including my little boys.
Samar Da'na (50), a married mother of eight, described the soldiers’ search of her home:
I live with my husband ‘Imad (55) and our four children. The eldest, Muhammad, is 28 and the youngest, Khaldun, is 16.
In the early hours of 10 October 2021, I was woken along with the rest of the family by knocking on our apartment door. When my husband opened it, several soldiers came in. One of them immediately grabbed my husband, twisted his arm backwards and asked about the people who live in the building. My husband told him that his brothers and their families live here. The soldiers took him outside.
About 10 soldiers came into our apartment with a dog and searched it. I was held with my three children in one of the rooms. My son Muhammad protested that they'd brought a dog into the apartment, and then two soldiers led him to the guest room next to the room where we were being held. I heard shouting and realized the soldiers were attacking him. My son 'Anan protested, and then one of the soldiers who was guarding us pushed him and ordered him to be quiet. I heard furniture being moved and the soldiers walking around the kitchen and bedrooms. I didn't know what they were looking for. The soldiers kept us in the room for about an hour. I was worried and afraid, mainly because I didn't know what had happened to my son Muhammad, whom I couldn’t hear any more from the living room.
After the search, the soldiers led us to the diwan in the yard. On the way there, I saw my sons Yazid and Muhammad in the yard, with their eyes covered and their hands tied behind their backs. I tried to talk to them, but the soldiers forbade me and told me to get into the diwan quickly. Inside, I found all my brothers-in-law with their families. There were about 100 people there, most of them children. We stayed there until 8:30 A.M. They arrested my son Yazid and let Muhammad go. I got home exhausted, but I couldn't sleep because I was scared and worried about Yazid. I checked the house and was shocked to see how much damage and mess the soldiers had left behind. They cut the curtain ropes and destroyed my daughter Amal’s (19) closet. We had to throw it away. It took us two days to tidy up.