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Mass Detentions and House Searches in the Old City of Hebron

6th September 2007, Hebron

Last night at 9.30pm dozens of soldiers were in the old city of Hebron. They called on loud speakers for all the men aged 18 to 35 to come out of the houses and then they detained them. Three international Human Rights Workers (HRWs) from ISM arrived at the Ibrahimi Mosque at 10.15pm to see 150 Palestinian men in a metal pen sitting in rows on the ground. About 10 0ther HRWs (from CPT and TIPH) were also there. More men were being brought to the mosque while HRWs maintained their presence. Released detainees said that they were being processed in groups and then released.

The processing involved passing through a metal detector, being photographed and then each man had to explain where he lived and have his body searched. They said this was being done by Israeli Intelligence Service. Other detainees said they had been given papers to report later to the Israeli Intelligence Service for more interrogation. The Border Police forced HRWs to leave the mosque area after 30 minutes.

The HRWs then entered the old souk by another route and found the streets and passages full of soldiers going to all the houses and disturbing the women and children. Some women were outside their houses with their distressed children. The soldiers would not explain why they were doing this when asked.

Israeli Army Commander Nir, the commander of Hebron, said that he was an Israeli protecting Israeli Settlers ‘here in Israel’ as he checked the passports. HRWs reminded him that it was his duty to protect all the civilians including Palestinians in Israeli occupied parts of Hebron (H2).

At 11.35pm a released detainee said that the soldiers were carrying out a survey of the occupants of all the houses in parts of the old city. There was also a report of one detainee being beaten.