The Knaby family have lived in a house in the Old City since Saladin’s time in Hebron. They own a modest five bedroomed house in the middle of the Old City, with Beit Haddasah opposite and two army posts overhead on their roof which insist on being as loud as possible all night.
The family moved out of the house three months ago into a small one roomed flat whilst they renovated their home with the assistance of the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) which provides money and workers to people living in the Old City. However the army decided that as soon as the work was completed they would invade the house, take the keys, and lock the house up.
At this point Human Rights Workers were called to the house by the family and friends. The HRW’s were asked to spend the next two nights in the house. Firstly they feared the army would come back, possibly to move in, or just to harass the family. And secondly the HRC had a spare set of keys which was given to the family on the next day in order to open up the house and complete moving their furniture in.
During the night the army did come back and were confronted by the HRW’s who demanded to see a warrant to enter the property. The army left when they could not produce one. The next day the army came back twice, first in the morning and they showed the family and the HRW’s a ‘Stop work Order’ for the whole city. The second time they came back at 3.00pm with three settlers, the settlers were shown around the property and took photographs. After they left the Army declared the area a Closed Military Zone and removed the HRW’s from the house. More HRW’s arrived over the course of the next few hours and positioned themselves on the ledge overlooking the house to film what was going on. More police and soldiers were brought in to watch over the HRW’s who now numbered twenty and included Palestinians.
The army began to throw the family’s belongings out of the house to tremendous protest. Ignoring the cries of the children and the parents they removed everything out of the house and placed it in a pile in the middle of the courtyard. HRW’s began to scale the building to get a better viewpoint to film from. The police immediately asked them to leave but the HRW’s felt they were breaking no laws so they stayed put. The police then arrested Issa Amro, a Palestinian HRW, who was the only Palestinian filming on the roof. The police then attempted to push the other three HRW’s of the building edge onto the concrete below. This was done in full knowledge of the danger and after several attempts to do this (the HRW’s had clung onto the railings to protect themselves) he began hitting and assaulting the activists. When this appeared useless he attempted to mace the activists who immediately left the building ledge.
Activists witnessed and filmed Issa then being pushed down a set of concrete stairs and being beaten by the police and the army. He was then marched out of the building with HRW’s in pursuit and taken to Kiryat Arba police station. Once all the family’s belongings were out the army pushed them all into one room and locked the door. Welding material was then brought in and the doors sealed shut. After this the Army left the building taking the owner of the house Muhammed Knaby with them.
HRW’s were informed that Issa had been released with a fourteen day ban on the area. The owner of the house was also given this ban, which extended to his family and he was ordered to pay five hundred shekels for being in a closed military zone. The house is now sealed and the family have had to buy and had donated new clothes and other property in order to keep them going as they look for a solution to this crisis.