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“Those are the rules” in Tel Rumeida

by ISM Hebron, October 17th

At 12.35pm two soldiers asked a Human Rights Worker (HRW) sitting opposite checkpoint 56 (the main entrance in and out of the Israeli controled H2 part of Hebron) to not watch the soldiers at the checkpoint and to move up the hill away from the checkpoint. The HRW refused to do this and the soldiers then rather strangely asked the HRW to move over to the other side of the road. The HRW did this, as this position is actually closer to the checkpoint and affords a better view of both the soldiers and the Palestinians passing through.

At 3pm on Shuhada Street, a HRW said “good afternoon” to two passing soldiers who were walking past. One of the soldiers responded by coming up to the HRW and very aggressively kicking the door to a Palestinian house close to the HRW’s face. He obviously found this very amusing, as he laughed loudly as he moved down the street. When the HRW asked the soldier why he had done this, the second soldier responded, “He doesn’t like you”. A few minutes later, a Palestinian man who had been walking down Shuhada Street in the opposite direction to the soldiers told the HRW that the aggressive soldier had told the second soldier that he should hit the Palestinian man in order to make the HRW take a photograph.

At roughly 4pm, four Israeli border police and a regular Israeli policeman walked down Shuhada Street from Beit Hadassah settlement, one pausing to look at the HRW stationed there and to peer into her bag. The soldiers then stopped at checkpoint 56 and started stopping most young Palestinian men who passed through the checkpoint into Tel Rumeida and taking their ID cards to be checked. This continued until 5.05pm when the border police left. During this hour and 5 minutes, between 20 and 30 Palestinians were detained and had to wait in a line by the side of the road for their IDs to be returned to them. This took between 10 minutes and half an hour at a time when the Palestinians were making their way home for their evening meal after having been fasting all day for Ramadan. One man was kept for longer than the others – roughly 35 minutes. At one point during this detention, a border policeman asked the man his name, got his ID from the policeman who was holding it, waved in the man’s face, then gave it back to the policeman so that the detention could continue. At one point, the Palestinian obviously got fed up with waiting and stood up to leave, but was prevented from doing so by the border police until they were finished with his ID. When a HRW asked one of the border policemen why they had done the ID checks at this particular time of the day, he answered, “Those are the rules”.

At 8pm a man was detained for walking past the Tel Rumeida (Eli Yishei) settlement. The man was new to the area and did not know about the army restrictions on using the road. One soldier, at the Tel Rumeida guardpost, was agitated and gesticulated with his gun.