Over the past week, Al-Haq documented 64 cases of arbitrary arrest by Israeli soldiers in the cities of Hebron, Nablus, Qalqilya, Salfit, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin and East Jerusalem. Eight of the detainees were children. The arrests in East Jerusalem took place after clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers in the premises of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Al-Haq also investigated and documented a raid and arrest operation in the refugee camp of al-‘Aroub, located approximately 15 kilometres north of Hebron. On Friday 6 September, at around 11:00 pm, stones and a Molotov cocktail were thrown in the direction of an Israeli military tower located on street 60, close to the entrance of al-‘Aroub refugee camp. The Israeli military responded with tear gas and sound bombs followed, three hours later, by an Israeli military incursion into the camp.
Ahmad Mahmoud Jibrin – Al-‘Aroub Refugee Camp
On 6 September, at approximately 11:00 pm, Ahmad, 27, was at his house, located in Dar Hanayin Street in al-‘Aroub refugee camp, when he heard the sound clashes erupting on the western side of the camp’s main street. Ahmad recalls that Israeli soldiers were firing tear gas and sound bombs in response to stones being thrown at the Israeli military tower located nearby.
That night, at approximately 1:00 am, Israeli soldiers invaded the camp and began raiding homes and arresting young men. At that time, Ahmad witnessed the residence of his neighbour, 'Imad Jawabra, being raided by Israeli forces. 'Imad’s four sons, Muhammad, 16, Muhannad, 24, Anas, 29 and Firas, 32, were taken to the main street of al-‘Aroub refugee camp by Israeli soldiers. Ahmad also witnessed the Israeli soldiers raiding the house of his other neighbour, Sha’ban al-Ra’i, whose son, Sayel, was also taken to the main street of the camp by the soldiers.
At approximately 2:30 am, Ahmad recalls that a group of ten soldiers arrived at his house, where he lives with his extended family; including his wife, children, his mother, his siblings and their families. Ahmad followed the soldiers as they searched the house. Upon leaving the house, the soldiers took Ahmad’s brother, Khalid, 16, with them to the main street.
Ahmad followed the soldiers in order to give them Khalid’s medical reports, as he had been released from hospital that day after having a tumour removed from his brain. Once Ahmad was on the main street, he saw a large number of young men, all of whom were handcuffed behind their backs and most of whom had been blindfolded and forced to sit on their knees. While Ahmad was trying to explain his brother’s medical condition in Hebrew to the officer in charge he overheard one of the soldiers speaking on the phone, saying that they had captured 150 detainees, three of whom were wanted by the Israeli forces. Ahmad then saw Khalid’s plastic handcuffs being replaced with a metal pair, after which his brother was forced inside a military jeep.
Shortly afterwards, Ahmad and some of his family members realised that smoke was coming out of the fourth floor window of their house. Ahmad’s son, Yousif, 15 months, and his nephew, Ammar, ten, were asleep on the fourth floor. Ahmad and his sister, Sarah, rescued the children and took them to the street but they were both unconscious. A Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance provided first aid for the children but Yousif required hospitalisation. Israeli soldiers prevented the Palestinian ambulance from leaving the camp and instead transferred Yousif into an Israeli ambulance, where he received medical treatment. When Ahmad returned home with Yousif, he found ten tear gas canisters in his home, along with three broken windows and some burnt furniture. (Al-Haq Affidavit No. 8926/2013)
On the morning of the raid, some residents of the camp tried to go to work but Israeli forces prevented them from leaving the camp until around 8:30 am. Moreover, Israeli forces banned shop owners from opening their businesses until 2:00 pm.
In total, 150 young men were arrested by the Israeli forces during the raid on al-‘Aroub camp, most of whom were gradually released between 6:00 am and 12:00 pm the following day. Among those arrested were three minors; Khalid Mahmoud Jibrin, Muhammad 'Imad Jawabra and 'Umar Haitham al-Badawi, all aged 16. At the time of writing, Khalid is being held under investigation in Ofer prison and his family has been unable to visit him. Muhammad and ‘Umar are also still being held in detention.
Al-Haq condemns the use of collective punishment against the residents of al-‘Aroub refugee camp and the arbitrary arrest of three minors. According to international humanitarian law, international human rights law and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, minors are entitled to special protection. In addition, Al-Haq expresses its concern regarding how the raid was conducted and the resulting damage to property. Al-Haq calls upon Israel to cease its practice of arbitrary arrests of Palestinians and to strictly abide by its legal obligations under international human rights law, including the right of all persons deprived of their liberty to be treated with humanity and respect for their dignity. Under international humanitarian law, Israel also has an obligation to ensure that protected persons detained in occupied territory are provided with the medical treatment required by their state of health.