26th November 2015 | International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil team | Hebron, occupied Palestine
Sunday 22nd November 2015, two international solidarity activists were arrested by Israeli forces on the allegation that they were ‘staying in a closed military zone’ in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron).
One German human rights defender passed a checkpoint manned with a group of half a dozen soldiers with two Palestinians and another international. They were not stopped on their way by the soldiers and were allowed to pass without any problems. After visiting a house in the neighbourhood however, they were immediately stopped by soldiers when stepping on the street only twenty minutes later. Soldiers immediately questioned them about what they were doing and ordered them to walk down the hill instead of up, the direction they were headed. When the internationals asked for a reason, soldiers called the police, but allowed the Palestinians in the group to leave. An American activist was also allowed to leave as she was Jewish, whereas the German was detained by the soldiers and not allowed to leave. According to the soldiers, the detained activist was ‘the reason for everything bad in the world’ and ‘should go to Syria’ to die there ‘as the world would be a better place without her’.
Another group of internationals was going to a shop in the same neighbourhood. The three of them were yelled at by soldiers, and one out of the group was ordered to come towards the soldiers whereas the other two were ordered to leave immediately or they would be arrested. Even though in the beginning the international argued that then she would be entering a closed military zone, which she wasn’t allowed to do, soldiers kept insisting. In the end the French activist did approach the soldiers as they kept requesting her to do so – only to be arrested for entering a ‘closed military zone’.
Both the French and German activists were held at the Givat Ha’vot police station in the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba for in total nine hours. In contrast to two Palestinian prisoners held at the police station, they were treated well. One Palestinian youth, only 18 years old, had already been at the police station for 16 hours when the internationals were taken there. He was visibly shaken and told the internationals that he would be taken to Ofer prison. Another Palestinian youth, about 16 years old, was walked past the internationals hand- and foot-shackled, visibly in great pain, trying to hold his stomach while walking bent over in extreme pain. No medical aid was given to him, instead he was forced to sit on the ground outside.
At one point, everyone including the two Palestinian youths, the two internationals and an Israeli prisoner were made to leave the only at least slightly heated room and forced to sit outside in the cold for about an hour as soldiers and police was bringing food and drinks and were audible enjoying themselves inside. Any requests for blankets or being allowed back inside were completely ignored or denied. When the internationals asked for food they were only given some bread and a tomato.
The Israeli settler, clearly psychologically disturbed, kept talking about the ghosts talking to him, all because of a spell that a Rabbi put on him. Still, he was released after a few hours. The two internationals were released after about 9 hours only when agreeing to sign conditions barring them from the ‘Tel Rumeida area’ of al-Khalil for 15 days. Even though they were released in the middle of the night around 2 o’clock they were from staying in their respective homes as they are in the are signed for. Unfortunately, nothing is known so far about the two Palestinian youths held at the police station. What can be said for sure though is that in Israeli military courts they will not even have the chance of a fair trail or at anything even distantly related to justice.