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Israeli forces invade Al-Ein camp, arrest three

17 January 2009

Muntaser Hamdi's house was invaded and trashed by 13 Israeli soldiers.

Muntaser Hamdi’s house was invaded and trashed by 13 Israeli soldiers.

Early in the morning of January 17 the Israeli army arrested 3 young Palestinian in a dawn raid on Al-Ein Refugee camp, located to the North of Nablus. The soldiers came at around 5am, departing at around 8 the same morning. The three friends – Samer As-Salhi (17 years old), Muntaser Hamdi (19) and Raed Al-Khatib (21) – none of whom had any previous convictions, were taken from their homes in simultaneous raids by several large groups of soldiers. The mother of the eldest, Raed Al-Khatib, described how the soldiers identified him by his ID documents from a page-long list of names, other Palestinians presumambly wanted by the military.

According to family members present during the raid the As-Salhi’s house was entered by 7 soldiers at 5am. The soldiers pushed and shoved family members, manhandling women and children. Several items in the house were damaged including the kitchen ceiling and bedroom furniture, most likely due to sound grenades. The soldiers left the house between 6 and 6.30am. The As-Salhi family has already suffered similar raids – Samer’s older brother Eiman (aged 22) has been in prison for 4 years now. Samer, only 17 years old, has until now been working as a carpenter.

The second family we spoke to described how Muntaser Hamdi was taken by more than 13 soldiers, who broke down the door of their house at 6 in the morning. During the 20 minute operation the soldiers tore open several sofas in the living room. As is routine with most operations of this kind, the targets were the men and boys of the camp; Muntaser’s brother was also searched during the raid. But it is not only the young males who are bearing the brunt of the raids – apart from damaged property in an area already scarred with the visible effects of occupation, the raid on the Hamdi household left two terrified young children, Muntaser’s younger siblings. Muntaser himself was blindfolded before being taken away.

The raid that hit the Al-Khatib household was particularly brutal. About 20 soldiers entered the small apartment at 6am, setting of a sound grenade which punched a hole in the kitchen ceiling. Repeating a pattern apparent in the other raids, according to Raed Al-Khatib’s mother the damage done to the kitchen happened while the soldiers searched for weapons; as in the other two cases, nothing was found. Other damage sustained during the raid included a broken dishwasher and a bathroom door ripped off its hinges. After going through cupboards and drawers, and body-searching all the men in the house, Raed was identified from a long list of other names, blindfolded and taken away. Raed’s mother has since been in contact with the Israeli human rights organisation HaMoked, who have helped her discover the prison where her son is being held, precious information usually denied to Palestinians.

The families indicated that the three friends were probably taken to the Huwara prison, as in a previous raid that ISM reported on at the end of October last year, where thirteen boys were arrested and taken from the camp. No information has been given as to how long the most recent three will be held but in previous instances, as with Samer As-Salhi’s brother, this has been anything from a month to several years.