12 August 2009
At around 16.00pm, a call was received regarding a flying checkpoint south of the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron, in the Palestinian controlled area of H1. On arrive, it was apparent that a military operation of stopping cars with male passengers and searching their vehicles, whilst checking identification was in implementation. One group of brothers driving a white van were required to wait more than an hour, without any explanation of their restricted movement. I then had the following dialogue with an Israeli soldier:
Me: Why have these men been waiting for an hour?
Soldier: It’s non of your business
Me: But isn’t it the business of these men?
Soldier: Why are you here? I’m following orders and you are preventing me doing my job.
Eventually the men were released, however the checks became more frequent until traffic on the street had come to a halt. I asked a different soldier what they were doing in the area and he replied, “We are searching for terrorists.”
Around 17.30pm, a soldier was in the process of a vehicle search, when a young boy, approximately 7-10 years old walked to towards the soldier but maintained a 2 meter distance from the soldier and remained quiet. The soldier turned, raised his weapon (however did not point it directly at the child) and the child retreated looking disturbed. The soldier then aggressively charged towards the child who ran to two Palestinian men who protected him from the soldier. The soldier gave up on the child and returned to the ID checks.
Once the checks had finished on the street, the soldiers marched back down to their Tel Rumeida post. However they took two men with them. One of the men told us that he had been held for 2 hours. He had forgotten his ID, had it retrieved by his family however he described that the soldiers had kept him for longer as “punishment” for not having the ID.
Close to the Tel Rumeida base, the soldiers made the men wait as they had refreshments from a van in the presence of Baruch Marzel, the kahane supporter and former leader of (terrorist labelled) right wing extremest group Kach. Other settlers started to take pictures of the detained men and ourselves, while a Sin bet guard patrolled in front of the soldiers and settlers.
After the refreshments had ended, the soldiers escorted the men to the army base, where they released them from the back entrance.