1 November 2009
Thirteen Palestinian boys were arrested in a raid on Al-Ein refugee camp outside Nablus, Wednesday 27 October. With the exception of one, all boys were aged 17, in their final year of school, and had no previous convictions. Amongst the arrested were two brothers – Yassar, 20 and Ahmad, 17. ISM activists visited the family’s home in the camp.
Yassar and Ahmad’s mother speaks frankly of the sudden, unprovoked attack on their small home in the camp. At 2am, as the family slept, Yassar was awoken by the unmistakable sounds of the Israeli military entering the camp, soldiers knocking on nearby doors and demanding to know the whereabouts of his family. Yassar ran to wake his siblings and parents as he heard a voice at the door saying “this is the house”.
A loud knock came on the door and one of Yassar’s young brothers opened it to face 10 armed Israeli soldiers, faces masked and covered in camouflage paint. The soldiers entered the home, immediately forcing all members to hand over their identity cards. The army remained in the house until 4am, forcing the entire family to stay awake in the small front room as military personnel came and went, checking their IDs, moving through the house but asking few questions. Eventually the ID cards were returned to all the family, except Yassar, who was taken by the soldiers. The family learned soon after that Ahmad, Yassar’s younger brother had been taken from his grandmother’s house nearby, along with six of his friends.
The family is in the dark as to why the two young men were arrested. Yassar had been released 2 months ago after serving 30 months in an Israeli prison, from the age of 17. During his imprisonment his family were not permitted to visit him even once. He served half of his 60 month sentence before being released on parole – now detained again, the family fears that they will not see him for another 3 years or more. Just days before, Yassar had been telling his mother of his plans for the future – to apply for technical college this week to gain certification in a trade, enabling him to leave his employment in a food factory. Now these plans may be put on hold for years to come.
Five months ago Ahmad was briefly detained for questioning by the PA, allegedly because a friend of his had mentioned his name to Israeli soldiers when he was detained at a checkpoint. The PA police subsequently came to Ahmad’s house and told his family that “We can take him now, or the Israelis can come and take him later”. Understandably, Ahmad then surrendered to the PA police. This case illustrates clearly that the Israelis can, and do, give orders to the PA, whose forces then carry out the dirty work within the West Bank for Israel.
Yassar and Ahmad are both being held at Huwwara prison and their mother alone has been granted one visit, on the 1st of November, after being in contact with different legal groups working for the rights of prisoners of the illegal occupation.
There are currently 11,000 Palestinian prisoners detained by Israel, many of them with no access to legal aid, education or their families in Palestine.