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Israeli Forces Arrest 14 in Zawata Village

On the evening of November 26th, Israeli Special Forces and the Israeli Military invaded the Palestinian town of Zawata, in the Nablus region, arresting 14 men. At approximately 6pm a group of around seven masked gunmen entered a coffee shop in the village, pointed their guns at the men gathered there, and identified themselves as Israeli Special Forces. Within minutes, several military jeeps arrived in the village, creating a ring around the coffee shop and preventing Palestinians from entering or leaving the area. 14 men were arrested inside the shop, seemingly at random.

Five of the men inside the shop escaped arrest because the Israeli commander said they were too old. The other 14 were loaded into a military transport truck and driven to Huwwara prison. At least one man described being hit repeatedly with the butt of a rifle during a 6 hour detention period. Witnesses attest that before being arrested, none of the men were asked for their identity cards, suggesting that these me were arrested at random, and not in a targeted raid. 12 of the 14 have since been released while two, including a member of the Palestinian press, are still being held. Their whereabouts are currently still unknown.

During the course of the invasion, the Israeli military overturned all of the furniture inside the shop, smashing glasses to the floor and scattering decks of cards. All the men in the shop were tied with their hands behind their back. The owner of the coffee shop was dealt blows to the crotch and shoulder with a rifle butt while in this position. At least one medic with the Palestine Medical Relief society was prevented from reaching the coffee shop to see if anyone needed treatment. Israeli soldiers shot at him with rubber bullets as he approached them to negotiate passage.

Zawata, a town of approximately 2,000 people, is no stranger to military invasions. Soldiers enter the village almost every night. Villagers also struggle to gain access to their lands isolated by a military road that cuts through hundreds of dunums of Zawata’s land.