Nablus: Occupation Forces Use Family Home As Sniper Post
At around 7:50pm a group of seven internationals were alerted to a house occupation by Israeli forces which had lasted for almost 20 hours. Israeli soldiers occupied the home of the Dwakat family, which consists of 2 brothers, Muhammed 28 years old and Hamed 29 years old, the wife of one of the brothers, 25 years old, and their two small girls aged three and six years old. Residents suspected that Israeli soldiers were interested occupying the house due to its location facing the Balata refugee camp. This was the second time the house had been invaded in the last three months.
The international group arrived at 8:05pm. After trying to assess the situation from locals who lived in the area and who knew the family, a group of six went up to the second floor of the apartment building while one person stayed behind outside the house to monitor the situation as a safety precaution. Internationals knocked on the door for about 5 minutes and asked to see if the family were alright. The door opened slightly and was immediately shut again. The room inside was in complete darkness as was the rest of the building.
After another minute or so one male soldier with an American sounding accent opened the door to speak with the internationals assuring them that the family was fine and was in need of no medical attention. He asked for the video camera to be turned off and then brought one of the brothers to the door to show he had been unharmed. The soldier then promptly shut the door and refused to engage in further dialogue.
The American international stationed outside the building was brought in to try and resume negotiation with the soldier. She entered the building while another international went outside to take her place. After speaking with the soldier she was able to see that the two young children were unharmed, but was unable to get inside the apartment.
After placing a call to the humanitarian line of the DCO, the internationals were assured the family would be released very soon. Within the next few minutes, a large army vehicle arrived and parked directly outside the entrance to the apartment block while another couple of smaller armoured army vehicles arrived and parked on each adjacent side. At the same time other army vehicles were seen heading towards Balata refugee camp at which time the internationals decided to move to the camp while another two stayed behind to ensure the release of the family. At approximately 9:10pm almost an hour after the international group arrived, 10 soldiers vacated the apartment block and immediately drove away. Prior to that one of the soldiers who had driven up in an armoured vehicle had requested to speak to the two internationals away from the entrance to the apartment block stating it was not safe for him to be there, however only one of the internationals went to speak with him to find out exactly when the family would be released while one stayed facing the entrance to the building. After the soldiers were seen to have left and started driving away the two ran upstairs to check on the family. They all appeared to be fine and were full of smiles especially the two young children.
Hamed Dwakat told the internationals that a group of ten soldiers had rung the bell at around 2am. The soldiers asked Hamed if there was anyone else present in the building and told him that they would open fire on him if they were lied to. The soldiers then entered the apartment and told the family not to speak at all. They were held in the kitchen for 20 hours. A soldier sat pointing a gun at them the whole time while the other soldiers occupied the rooms facing the refugee camp. The family were able to eat snacks and use the toilet throughout. He also told us that at around 6am four hours from the time the soldiers entered, young children on the street below suspected there were soldiers inside and started throwing rocks up to the second floor window, to which the soldiers responded by opening fire.