November 10th, 2015 | International Solidarity Movement, Huwarra Team | Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
In the early morning of November 2nd 2015, Ahmad Nasser was kidnapped by Israeli forces from his home near Ramallah. He was accused of attempting to kill soldiers by throwing stones and molotov cocktails, and was released without charge 15 hours later. He was repeatedly assaulted during his arrest and suffered broken ribs and further injuries. It is Ahmad’s belief that the arrest was directly related to his work as a medic and humanitarian activist at demonstrations. Just 60 hours before his arrest he was acting as a medic in a private ambulance service, administering medical aid to demonstrators injured at a Friday clash in Beit El. Along with journalists and other medics, he was directly targeted in his work on the day and prevented from tending to a demonstrator run over by an army jeep. Israeli forces threw a sound grenade at the group, teargassed the ambulances and then proceeded to viciously pepperspray press and medics. The media surrounding this, coupled with his work in previous weeks tending to those shot with live ammunition in clashes near Ramallah, are likely reasons he was chosen for arrest as another victim of the recent increase in intimidation tactics being used against Palestinians, especially young men. As he states: “they try to accuse me of some charges but they cannot – if they had some real evidence that I threw stones they would never release me, but they didn’t – they just want to punish me for my work.” This is his account of his arrest and assault: just one story in the daily narrative of the occupation.
On the night of the 2nd of November I got home around 2 in the morning. Five minutes later I heard the Israeli army jeeps stopped outside my house and I took a look from my window to see what was going on. I didn’t know they were looking for me, and I saw the soldiers go to my neighbor’s house and start to knock on the door. When someone answered they questioned him and asked about who is living in the building. The neighbor, an old man, said that he didn’t know, so they started to beat him – they struck him with the end of the gun and they hit him and they took him with them to check the other houses and they entered his house with his family inside.
Then they knocked on my door and I opened it for them and I saw a lot of soldiers, about 60, standing there with their guns and ready to shoot. I saw the hatred and anger in their eyes and one of them asked me “who are you?” so I told him my name is Ahmad so he asked me “Ahmad what?” so I said “Ahmad Nasser.” He checked his phone and asked me for my I.D. but I didn’t have it at the time so I gave him the number of my I.D. He told me to stand on the side outside our front door, and to take my jacket off and give it to my mother. My mother and my brother, who was recently released from prison, were both in the room. My mother was very scared – you know, she is a mother. They kicked my kitten because she was playing around them, and they started to check me and he asked me again about my I.D. number to confirm it.
After that they went through my house and started to look and search for something and the soldiers outside were asking me if I have guns so I told them I do not. One of them asked me to take my shoes off and he checked it and after that asked me to put them on again. He told me to face the wall again and put the zip-tie hand-cuffs on my hands, behind my back. I told him that I have a problem in my right hand from an old injury and he said okay, but he tightened it more. They blindfolded me and asked me to sit on the stairs, with my arms back behind me, and after a few minutes they came out off my house with some personal things they had taken, and they told my family not to move or they will shoot them. They told me to walk and one of the soldiers grabbed me in a bad way and told me “MOVE!” and I told him that there is stairs but he pushed me down the stairs so that I fell onto my knee and slid down.
He started to say bad things about me and my family and started to beat me up until we arrived to the jeep and he shoved me into the edge of the front door. After that they pushed me against the side of the jeep and then against the back door and another soldier told him that there is no space in that car, so he took me to another jeep and hit me on the back door and start to punch me and hit me with something from metal, I think the end of the gun. This is when they broke my ribs. There were many soldiers around. I heard one shout at my brother “GO! Or I will shoot you!” because he was trying to film from inside.
I was on my knees in front of the back step and a soldier put all his weight on me and after that he tightened the zip-tie (hand-cuffs) again but this time more strong. He told me to sit but I couldn’t do that because I don’t see a thing so they just pushed me inside the jeep and after a few seconds grabbed me out again so that the soldiers can sit and pushed me again inside the jeep on the ground. I was in a bad position until we arrived to the Ofer military base near to that area. After that he opened the door and grabbed me again and one of them helped me to stand and he was holding me in a bad way and another one came to me and he started to ask me if I throw stones at the Israeli soldiers. I said no and he told me that I am lying and said bad things to me and hit me in my stomach again and pushed me until we get to the arrest truck and he told me there is steps. I got into the truck and a female soldier asked me to sit and to shut up so I told them that they should take the hand-cuffs off, because they were so tight that my hands were swollen, but they didn’t listen to me.
When we arrived to the clinic to check me one of the soldiers was fighting with the zip-tie trying to take it off and that hurt me more but in the end he took it and the doctor checked me. They took the blindfold off inside the closed room and asked me questions, like if I am sick, if I am taking medication, if I have had any surgery, if I have any problems with my health. He checked where I was sore but said “you are fine.” They put the blindfold back on me and they took me out and I was waiting for 20 minutes until some soldiers came and took me to the truck again. I was waiting in the truck for a few minutes and they brought another prisoner from my town. I knew he was there because I heard them say “watch your head” but it hit against the truck, and I knew him from his voice. When we tried to talk to each other the soldiers shouted at us to shut up and they start to move and they took us somewhere, we didn’t know where. After a while driving they stopped and we got out and they told us to sit and it was so cold and windy, and we just had to sit out like that for a few hours.
When I was talking to the other prisoner, a female soldier came and told us to shut up and said we couldn’t talk. I asked why and she said “I am treating you as a human being, just stop talking.” So I told her “it’s boring for us! So I will talk to him…and if you are treating me like a human being, for the first place I shouldn’t be here, and for seconds, you should bring me a jacket and a blanket and water and we should be sitting in a warm room, not outside.” So she didn’t know what to say and she said, “just stop talking,” and she left. After about one hour, they brought me a jacket and a blanket and they left. After about 3 hours, another soldier came and took the blankets from us. A few hours later again, around 7am, he came again with the blanket, put it on us, and he left. In the morning, around 8.30, we told the soldier who was guarding the gate that we wanted to go to the toilet, but he didn’t listen to us, and after we hassled him for a few minutes, he went to check whether there was another soldier to take us. He came back and said there is no-one to take you, so you can’t go. So, we kept annoying him for one hour, and after that, a female soldier came and she said “the toilet is closed, so there is no toilet” and she took me to a spot, behind the jeep. She would not give us any privacy. After that, they put us both on chairs and they left again for about half an hour.
Another jeep came with three soldiers, they put us in the jeep, and they took us to the Ofer military prison again. We stayed there for half an hour, and then they took us to Sha’ar Binyamin [illegal settlement] police station. They put us in a room with another 2 prisoners and we stayed there for a while, sitting on the ground until the investigator (police) came and took us to interrogate us. It was only at this point that the blindfold and handcuffs were taken off…all the time before that, I was blind. He started to ask me questions. He told me “we suspect you – you were throwing stones and molotovs, and you tried to kill soldiers with stones. What do you say about that?” So, I said “about what exactly?” He said “about what I told you” I told him “you are imagining that….nothing like this could happen” And he said “OK but we have evidence.” I asked him “who told you that?” He said “just, we have evidence” so I demanded that they show it to me. They showed me a photo of another guy, someone I don’t know. I told him “this one is not me and I deny what you are saying and I want to talk to my lawyer,” so he called my lawyer. This was the first time I had been allowed to contact my lawyer, so many hours after I was arrested.
I talked to my lawyer for a while and after that he told me “stop talking and give me the phone.” He started to ask me if I have ever thrown stones or molotovs, and do I know people who throw stones or molotovs and if I join demonstrations against the soldiers or if I am thinking to join a demonstration. So, I told him “I don’t join demonstrations, and I would not do that, because when I go to a demonstration I go as a medic and work as a humanitarian mission.” And they said “but you still don’t want to tell me if you know anything.” So I told him, “I don’t know anything, and I deny everything that you have, and your evidence is fake.” So he decided to take my DNA and fingerprints and they also took photos of me. Another investigator, he asked to see my hands, so I showed them to him and he said “these hands are not throwing stones…these hands are throwing molotovs.” I started to laugh and told him “you are dreaming” and he said “OK, what is your name” so I gave him my name and he told me “we have been looking for you for a long time.” I said “really? I am in Ramallah…and you are 10 minutes away, and you could take me any time..so don’t make fun of me.” He said “OK, go down” and when I was about to go into the elevator, he showed me his hand, with 4 fingers, and he asked me “how much is it?” So I told him “it’s four.” He said “no, it is five.” I told him, “no it’s four.” He flipped his hand around, and said “no, like this it’s 4,” he flipped his hand again, “and like this [with a bent thumb on the palm side], its five.” I told him “if it’s four or five it’s your problem, I see four.” They told me “OK, just go.”
So, the other policeman took me to the room where I was sitting with the soldiers and the other 3 prisoners and they kept us there for about 2 hours. It must have been about 3pm by then. Three policeman came, and they said “these 2 guys [pointing at the others, from Jalazon camp] – to Ofer.” And me and the other guy, “to the custody room.” We stayed there around one hour before the policeman came and opened the door for us. He said “we have nothing against you. So, you can leave. And, do you know how to go out from here [the police station]?” I told him yes, but when I got to the main door I said to him “you didn’t charge us, but your release us inside a settlement, and we might get killed here” He said “no, you are fine, just leave,” so we left. They try to accuse me of some charges but they cannot – if they had some real evidence that I threw stones they would never release me, but they didn’t – they just want to punish me for my work. And I am free now. Thanks for everyone who tried to help me, in any way. I appreciate it.
The Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC) estimates that approximately 1,350 night raids are occurring annually in the West Bank, with that number having escalated in the tensions of recent months. Most of these raid occur between 2:00 and 4:00am “and commence with aggressive banging on the front door. In some cases the door is simply kicked in or blown off its hinges.” While night raids are used extensively as an arrest tactic, the WCLAC explains that in fact in the majority of cases no arrests are made, and it is moreover a “strategy of mass initimidation of the Palestinian civilian population.” According to the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, in October alone, Israeli occupation forces arrested 1,195 Palestinians including 177 children, 16 females and 23 after they were injured. Among those arrested, 128 were placed under administrative detention, 31 of whom were arrested for alleged “incitement” including through social media, 3 of whom were children from Jerusalem. This brought the total number of Palestinian political prisoners to 6,700 by the end of October. They state that the “Israeli occupation authorities have publicly declared that these mass arrests as well as other measures taken against Palestinians in the occupied territory are aimed at suppressing the recent uprising, clearly indicating that the mass arrests are a form of collective punishment and political oppression aimed at forcing Palestinians to submission.”
According to another source, The Prisoners’ Affairs Authority affiliated to the Palestinian Authority (PA) documented 800 cases in which Palestinian minors were arrested during the past months, mostly in Jerusalem. This equates to the average number of Palestinian children’s arrests by Israeli forces annually.