Israel Occupying Force (IOF) Dawn Raids in the Dheisheh Camp, south of Bethlehem

Thursday, 05 July 2018 08:21 - [17 June - 26 June]

The Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) frequently conduct raids on the homes of Palestinian families without obtaining a warrant or providing notice. For example, in 2010 the IOF conducted  7,190 night raids and 6,193 raids in 2012 across the West Bank.[1] The IOF raids are conducted late at night or in the early morning,[2] usually when the occupants are asleep. Such early-morning raids serve to disorient the family,[3] who do not have any time to prepare or arrange for the children to be out of the home. Israel performs the raids, in part, to ensure its subjugation of the Palestinian population and as a method of social control.

Miriam Mustafa Jabareen Balaawi, Dheisheh District, south of Bethlehem

On 5 May, 2018 at 6:00 am, Israeli soldiers stormed the residence of the Balaawi family in the Dheisheh camp south of Bethlehem, located in Area A.[4] The day prior to the raid, 4 May, 2018, Yusuf Balaawi, received a phone call from an IOF officer named “Nidal”. The officer ordered Yusuf to turn in his eldest son Yazan, 19, who Nidal alleged was wanted for terrorism. In response, Yusuf declared that he would not cooperate.

The next morning at 7:00 am, at least 15 armed IOF soldiers stormed into the house and demanded that Yazan, who was not present during the raid, turn himself in. The IOF again declared Yazan wanted for terrorism, but did not provide information as to what acts, if any, Yazan had allegedly carried out.

Upon entry into the residence, the IOF utilized physical intimidation in an effort to get the family to turn Yazan in. Yasan’s mother Miriam, 42, father Yusuf, youngest son Muhammad, 15, and daughter Zgerti, 16 were present in the house at the time.  The IOF immediately began to verbally and physically harass Zgerti. An IOF soldier noticed that Zgerti had a cell phone which he attempted to take away. Zgerti put the phone behind her back, and the soldier pushed her several times. Muhammad saw the IOF officer assaulting his sister and tried to step in to stop the harassment. The IOF stopped him by aiming their guns at him. The family did not offer Yazan to the IOF and the IOF left.

Two days later, on 5 May, 2018, at 6:00 am 15 masked and armed IOF soldiers broke into the Balaawi family home. The soldiers dragged the family into the hall, and began searching the house. Yazan was not at home. During the raid a soldier put a gun up to Yusuf’s temple and said “You think I was playing with you?” The IOF proceeded to arrest Yusuf, in the place of Yazan. He was detained for several hours and then released at around 9:00 am, to deliver the following message to Miriam - “this is your last chance to deliver Yazan or a corpse will return and you will be the mother to a martyr.” As of 6 June, 2018 Yazan has not turned himself in.

Legal Analysis

Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) are regarded as protected persons under international humanitarian law, specifically Article 4(1) of the Fourth Geneva Convention. As such, the Occupying Power is bound by its obligations under international humanitarian law, as well as international human rights law toward the protected Palestinian population. Article 46 of the Hague Regulations of 1907 requires that the Occupying Power respect and protect family honor and private property. While Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 17(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) state that no one should be the subject of arbitrary interference in their privacy, family, and home. The IOF violated these rights by raiding private Palestinian property and physically harassing Zgerti. In particular, Article 31 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) prohibits physical and moral coercion to obtain information from protected parties. Notably, the IOF breached this prohibition by physically and mentally harassing Zgerti along with physically harassing Yusuf and Muhammad to obtain information on the location of Yazan.

Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits collective punishment, or the punishment of an individual for an action that he or she did not commit. The IOF violated this article and Article 9 of the ICCPR when they arbitrarily arrested and detained Yusuf, to coerce Yazan to turn himself in. Further the threat of Yazan’s extrajudicial execution, amounts to a violation of Yazan’s right to life and amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under Article 7 of the ICCPR. In addition, Article 75 of Additional Protocol I requires the humane treatment of all detainees by the occupation forces. The Article explicitly mandates protection from physical and mental abuse, in addition to requiring due process. The IOF clearly violated Article 75 when they detained Yusuf and threatened to extra judicially kill Yazan.

[1] Amira Hass, West Bank Raids: Operational Routine or a Powder Keg About to Explode., Harretz, https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-west-bank-raids-a-deadly-routine-1.5325963., accessed on 27/6/2018.

[2] Id.

[3] Police Night Raid on Jerusalem Residents, https://www.israelversusjudaism.org/single-post/2018/04/23/Police-Night-Raid-on-Jerusalem-Residents, accessed 27/6/2018. Usually a “jeep or two and a military ambulance enter a residential area of some city or village in the dead of night. Sometimes it's only an aggressive ‘patrol’ in a city that wakes up a few people, scares children and causes the pulse to race. Sometimes the soldiers surround a house and bang on the door, in order to make an arrest or just conduct a search. Some demand that all the residents go outside, others make do with summoning and arresting one person.” Amira Hass, West Bank Raids: Operational Routine or a Powder Keg About to Explode., Harretz, https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-west-bank-raids-a-deadly-routine-1.5325963., accessed on 27/6/2018.

[4] The Dheisheh camp is one of the largest Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank. The camp is slightly south of, and connected to the services of, Bethlehem. The exact total population of Dheisheh camp is disputed, but the accepted ranges of population are between 9,000 and 13,000 persons.