At 5 PM on the evening of November 26th, as four international human right workers (HRWs) were photographing Israeli soldiers firing live ammunition from the top of a hill, the soldiers confronted the HRWs and aggressively ordered them to stop taking photos. The HRWs had been called to the area after at least 7 soldiers were seen marching through town to the scene in question, briefly erecting a flying checkpoint. Soldiers then proceeded to surround the hilltop house overlooking the town, blocking entrance to the driveway, firing sound bombs, flares and live bullets sporadically. As one HRW tried to talk to the soldiers, he received a punch to his face. A soldier then struck him in his side with the barrel of his machine gun, and aimed the gun at his head forcing him to sit on the ground.
A few minutes later, as the soldiers were about to leave, the officer in charge walked up to the HRW and said that he had noticed him before, and if he ever saw the HRW again, he would take him away in the military jeep. The officer further threatened him by saying that he could not know what would then happen to him in their custody.
This is the second time since Friday that Israeli soldiers have attacked human right workers in Azzun. The last incident included physically abusing two HRWs as they were following a group of soldiers firing sound bombs into people’s homes. After kicking the HRWs and punching one in his face, the soldiers stole two of their cameras, which they still haven’t returned.
Just a couple of minutes after this evening’s assault, a thirteen year old boy was taken away in a military jeep by the same soldiers. The soldiers tied his hands together, blindfolded him, detained him within the jeep for up to two hours, and finally threw him out of the moving
vehicle at a roundabout in town.
Israeli soldiers in this area are known to be particularly aggressive, as they often attack and kidnap Palestinian boys on their way from school, claiming that they are responding to children throwing stones, when in fact the boys are usually simply walking home from school. The soldiers seem to be using the continual presence at areas where many young boys will be gathered to then incite stone-throwing, or claim that stones have been thrown when none have, then abducting the boys.
In a prime example of this behaviour, this Saturday another Palestinian boy, age 13, was kidnapped by Israeli soldiers on his way home from school. After assaulting the boy in the back of the jeep, he was thrown out of the moving vehicle resulting in injuries to his arm which he now has to keep in a sling.
This was just one in a long series of incidents where Israeli soldiers harass the youth of Azzun, soldiers entering schools during school hours, even throwing sound bombs into the building, military jeeps often waiting outside schools for the children to leave, as well as patrolling the streets in search of youths to harass and detain. These roaming patrols continue into the early hours of the morning, military vehicles driving up residential streets and shining spotlights into the homes of sleeping villagers.