by ISM Hebron, 24th October
Today was the second day of Eid, the three-day holiday after Ramadan. During these three days, families visit each other, something made very hard by the soldiers stationed in Tel Rumeida.
Internationals walking up the hill saw a group of Palestinian residents at the top of the hill and learned that soldiers had yelled at a young Palestinian child who walked by with a toy gun. The boy ran away and was very scared.
The soldiers then detained a man who was walking by and said they were going to hold him until the child was brought back. Some residents went and brought the toy gun back and gave it to the soldiers, showing that it was a toy gun. They explained that the boy was scared and would not be coming back. The soldiers refused this and said they would hold the man until the boy came back.
Internationals repeatedly told the soldiers that their behavior was unreasonable, that it didn’t make sense to threaten a passerby because a child had a toy. The soldiers then started removing Palestinian residents from the street, screaming at everyone and going to the door of the shop, screaming for everyone to leave.
A car of settlers stopped in the street outside the store and started accusing one of the internationals, saying “You cause problems here. Your filming causes problems…”
At this point, the soldiers detained a second man who was in the store. They made him go to the soldier station and tried to take his phone, however an international was able to hold the phone and gave it back to the man. The soldiers again tried to take the phone and were successful.
The man was taken across the street next to the first man who was still being detained. He stood against a wall, but the soldier spent the next few minutes demanding that he sit on the ground, though he was wearing new clothes for the Eid holidays. Eventually he was forced to sit on the ground.
Internationals called Machsom Watch, the DCO (without answer) and the Israeli police.
The soldiers then began telling the internationals to turn their cameras off. Two soldiers went after two internationals, pushing the male international, trying to knee him in the groin, and hitting the camera multiple times. Another batted at the second international’s camera.
The Israeli police arrived and refused to talk to any of the internationals. Instead they initially spoke only to soldiers and then eventually a resident, the brother of the detained men. During this time, the first detained resident got his ID back, and then soldiers demanded the internationals’ passports. One international refused, saying she would give it to the police if they asked, but not to a soldier, who was not allowed to ask for it in the first place.
After the police left, two soldiers began yelling at an international watching from the roof with a Palestinian woman. They told the two repeatedly to go inside and though the international told them she was simply on the roof of her home, the soldiers then started saying in a monologue, “You are refusing to go in? You are refusing? Fine, you have refused,” Two soldiers then entered the building, while others outside blocked the door and prevented other internationals from entering. When one international told the soldiers that there were children in the home and the soldiers would obviously be scaring them, he also asked, “You think scaring the children is funny?” he said, “Yeah.”
After looking around on two levels of the roof (the international and Palestinian woman were in the apartment with the door bolted), the soldiers left and three of them went into the building across the street. Other soldiers stood in front of this door as well, preventing anyone from entering while they looked around on the roof.
When family members tried to leave the building, they refused to let them out, slamming the door in their faces. They were in the home for five minutes.
The police arrived at this moment and began shouting at the soldiers. The police then asked for the ID from the remaining detained resident and gave it back to him. The soldiers continued to remove the Palestinian children from the area.
Dave, an international, sitting in the middle of Shuhada Street watched as soldiers came down the hill and gathered at the checkpoint. They began pointing at Dave on Shuhada Street. Five minutes later, at 2:10pm, two soldiers walked over and stood in front of Dave, asking him to take their photo, which he did.
He was then called to the checkpoint and was told that the commander wanted to talk to him. The commander told him that they would close the checkpoint if he was in the area and not allow anyone to go through. At this point, the checkpoint was already closed, and a family was waiting to leave the neighborhood.
Dave then left the checkpoint and walked to the end of Shuhada Street. However, soldiers shortly forced a Palestinian child to walk down to him and tell him that the soldiers wanted him to come back to the checkpoint. The family was still there waiting, and the commander threatened Dave again, telling him the checkpoint would be closed until he left the area. At this point, after much argument, Dave left the area.
K then went down to the checkpoint and the commander came to the door and asked her what she was doing. He told her to leave and that she makes too much trouble. She explained that she just arrived, to which he replied, “Well, I don’t like the look of you and if you don’t go, I will keep the checkpoint closed until you leave.” After telling him that children such as himself shouldn’t have so much power, she also left.
Another international then went down and walked with two kids down Shuhada Street. She was at the end of Shuhada Street and could not even see the checkpoint, and was filming three small children who were playing for the camera when a soldier at the checkpoint shouted at her to come down and said the commander wanted to talk to her.
At this point, people were waiting on both sides of the checkpoint. The commander threatened her, saying, “You’ve crossed the line today. I have orders that the checkpoint will be closed until you leave.” At this point she also left.
Beth then went down to the checkpoint, taking her time. When she got close enough to see, she saw between 8-10 people, including women and children, being detained across the street from the checkpoint by border police and a policeman. Other residents who were walking towards the checkpoint at this time turned around and went back when they saw what was happening.
Another international came down and the two went closer together, though they were still some distance away. Soldiers saw them and called one international down, saying again that the commander wanted to speak to him. He said, “I told you before to go away. I’ve closed the checkpoint because you’re here. I’m not letting anyone go to your home until you leave.”
A few minutes later, those who were being detained were released, but then 8-10 men who had just come through the checkpoint were detained. A settler boy walking by at this time, simply kept repeating, “Fuck you, fuck fuck.”
Five internationals then went down to the checkpoint where some Palestinians said they had been detained since 3:45. At 4:30pm Machsom Watch was called, who called the DCO, and at 4:45 they were released.
An international asked the soldier, “So you’re punishing everyone because of us.” To which the soldier replied “everyone.” A family came and the soldier said he was stopping this family and wouldn’t let them through the checkpoint until the HRWs left. The soldier confirmed repeatedly that he was willing to punish the entire community if the HRWs didn’t leave. When the soldier began laughing at the situation he was asked if he thought it was funny. To which he replied “Do you think it’s funny my face being on the internet?” Seeing that an entire family was being detained the HRWs were left with no choice but to leave the checkpoint area.
K stayed above the checkpoint with border police, and the commander again told her to leave. He then forced a woman who was waiting at the checkpoint to go over and ask her to leave and said to K, “I can make the Arabs turn against you.”
Then she left.
Internationals came up the hill and saw three toddlers throwing rocks at a Palestinian house. An international yelled at them and they ran away.