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Palestinians exit Friday prayers and enter mass detentions

by TRP Hebron, 16 June 2007

At 1:00pm near the Ibrahimi Mosque three international human rights workers were waiting, with members of Christain Peacemaker Teams, for Palestinains to leave the Mosque following Friday prayers.

Soldiers had been randomly taking Palestinian IDs (huwwiyas) of the young men as they entered the Mosque, and had large stacks of them. Palestinians were only allowed to worship inside the Mosque after giving their identity cards to the soldiers.

At 1:00-1:15pm, the prayers ended and the Palestinians began to leave the Mosque. About 160-180 young to middle age Palestinian men then began to wait for their huwwiyas to be returned next to the Mosque.

At first the soldiers gave back about 40 huwwiyas, at the checkpoint on Shuhada St., and then the soldiers just stopped. About 25-30 young men then had to wait for about another 45 minutes before a soldier commander came and gave back the rest of the IDs.

Another group of Palestinian men were detained for 1 hour, after worshipping peacefully in the Mosque, and were released at about 2:15.

The Palestinians next to the Mosque were still being detained after the young men around the corner had been released. The police present gave back the huwwiyas of about 40 Palestinian men, and then made the rest wait. There were about 60 Palestinian men forced to wait, and were sitting in the shade, or next to the guard rails at the metal detectors.

A human rights defender intervened in this incident and asked the soldier present why he did not check the huwwiyas while the men were praying so they would not have to wait. The soldier said they like to wait until afterwards.

The human rights defender also asked why the men were being detained and how long they would have to wait. The soldiers said that these were their orders, and they would have to wait because the computer at the station, meant to check the numbers and names on the IDs, was broken.

These 60 Palestinians were forced to wait for 2 full hours, 3:00-3:15, before the Red Cross, whom internationals had called, managed to get all the Palestinians released except for one 21 year old boy.

Afterward, the police detained more men who were passing randomly, and members of CPT stayed in order to monitor the area.