||Beit Ummar, West Bank
|Nature of incident:
|Date of incident:
||18 January 2012
On 18 January 2012, a 43-year-old mother from the village of Beit Ummar, in the occupied West Bank, is beaten by Israeli soldiers as she tries to prevent the arrest of her son.
The village of Beit Ummar is located approximately 10 kilometres south of Bethlehem, in the West Bank. The village is surrounded by a number of Israeli settlements, the closest being Karmi Zur, which is located about 400 metres away, and is built on agricultural land belonging to the village. A road used by the Israeli army and settlers also passes close to the village and is a constant source of friction leading to frequent raids and arrests, particularly of young people accused of throwing stones. The residents of the village also hold demonstrations against the settlement every Friday, which regularly end in the arrest of young men.
“At around 2:00 am, I woke up to the sound of banging at the front door of my brother-in-law’s house, which is about 10 metres away from our house,” recalls Siham. It was a cold and rainy night. “I was shaken and afraid. I was worried for my brother-in-law’s family, and for my husband and sons. I told my son Firas (21 years) to put on warm clothes in case they had come to arrest him. I then woke up all my other children and warned them that there were soldiers in the neighbourhood,” says Siham. A short time later the soldiers came to Siham’s house and ordered her husband to bring the family outside.
“We all went outside and my son Firas was the first to leave the house,” recalls Siham. The soldiers asked to see his I.D. card and asked him to kneel down in front of the house. When my son refused to do so five soldiers jumped on him and forced him on the ground with his face down and placed him under the drainpipe. I could not tolerate this scene and tried to talk to the soldiers with tears in my eyes. My whole body was shivering. I was freezing cold and very scared at the same time. I asked them 'why did you do this to my son? What has he done to you? Don’t you have children of your own?’ They did not listen to me. Instead they beat him violently. I screamed hysterically and jumped on them trying to force them away from Firas but two of them beat me, hit me with the butt of their guns and pushed me aside. One of them scared me with a dog that had a muzzle on its mouth; another kicked me on my side. My husband and brother-in-law tried to rescue me from the soldiers. The soldiers then ordered us into the house but I refused to go in; I was worried about my son and didn’t want to leave him alone with them. I saw them tie his hands behind his back with plastic ties while he was on the ground with his face down. Meanwhile five soldiers beat him with the butts of their guns and kicked him while I was watching. Firas and I started to scream from the top of our heads. I went mad and lost my mind. This went on for nearly 15 minutes. They also blindfolded him and lead him toward the jeeps that were waiting. I followed them and tried to talk to my son but they did not allow me. They did not let me get close to him.”
Siham recalls that once the soldiers were gone the family went back inside the house but could not sleep. “I was very worried about my husband who is very sick. Since that day I have been suffering from pain and psychological problems. I have become stressed and I have pain in my neck and shoulders. I also suffer from bad headaches. I am constantly stressed and worried about my sons. I always tell my son Mutasem to stay away from soldiers,” says Siham.