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Beit Ummar Curfew

At 1 am on the 13th of February the village of Beit Ummar was invaded by Israeli soldiers and put under military curfew. Over 40 people were arrested as the area was declared a closed military zone. The press were turned away at the gate and those who found another way in were escorted out by the Army. The military divided the area into four parts and refused ambulances to pass between the zones. Bulldozers were brought in in the morning and demolished a shop and a water utility building.

International Human Rights Workers (HRWs) found their way into the village between 9 and 10 am. HRWs witnessed systematic house searches and arrests of any young person found on the street. Tear gas, sound grenades and rubber bullets were used against the youth as well as live ammunition. It was clear that the people of the village were not going to submit without a fight and many children were throwing stones as well as breaking curfew to come out onto the streets.

Altogether there were six international HRWs in the village, one already being stationed there before the curfew took hold. After a couple of hours filming the soldiers performing house searches all six internationals were removed from the village by the military.

When asked about the reason for the invasion the commander told the HRWs that it was because of the violence that has recently broken out in the village against the Army, when pushed as to what this violence entails he admitted that it meant children throwing stones.

In recent weeks Beit Ummar has hosted a spate of non violent actions including tree planting on Palestinian land near the buffer zone of the settlement. But the Army has responded by shooting two boys before the invasion. They were shot in the legs and then arrested and taken inside the settlement. They have not been seen since.