||An Nabi Saleh, West Bank
|Nature of incident:
|Date of incident:
||26 February 2012
On 26 February 2012, Israeli soldiers enter a house at 1:00 am in the village of An Nabi Saleh, in the occupied West Bank, to conduct a search.
The village of An Nabi Saleh is located 15 kilometres north of Ramallah and has a population of 500 residents.In 1977 the Israeli settlement of Halamish was established about 500 metres away, partly on village lands. In 2009, the settlement expanded still further taking over a spring belonging to one of the villagers. This was the spark for weekly Friday demonstrations by the residents, who try to march to the spring but are prevented from doing so by the Israeli army. The methods used by the army to prevent the protesters from reaching the spring include: tear gas, sound grenades, rubber bullets and skunk water. Skunk water is a foul smelling chemical substance sprayed from a truck, the effect of which lingers for several weeks. The army also conducts frequent night time raids on the village, which create a sense of fear and insecurity.
“At about 1:00 am, on 26 February 2012, I heard the sound of army jeeps pull up in front of my house at the entrance to the village. Minutes later my eldest son, Usama, came running into our bedroom saying 'daddy daddy, soldiers have come to our house.’ We are used to the presence of soldiers in the village during the night, they have made it a routine in the last 10 days or so to enter the village and to go into one or two houses for no particular purpose. Whenever soldiers enter the village I don’t sleep until I am sure they have left. My son Usama stays on high alert and is frightened each time solders are in the village. He is worried that they might come to arrest him especially since three of his class mates have been arrested recently.”
“My husband quickly got up, and told Usama to go back to bed and pretend to be sleeping. He then picked up his video camera and got ready to film. When he went to open the door six to eight soldiers entered the house and asked my husband to wake everybody up and to gather in one room. When my husband asked one of the soldiers about the reason for coming in the middle of the night the soldier said it was because stones have been thrown at the road.”
“My husband then went next door to wake up his mother and sister who live in the apartment next to ours. In the meantime a soldier asked me to bring everybody into the kitchen but I refused. I told him I wasn’t going to wake up my two youngest children - Rand who is eight and Samer who is five - because the weather was too cold and they were fast asleep. I insisted and he finally agreed. He then told us to wake up Usama who is 16 and Muhammad who is 13 which we did. By this time my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law with her young child came to our house.”
“At this time the commander and three soldiers began to search the house. The commander asked my husband whether we had any 'un-forbidden’ weapons. My husband did not understand what was meant by 'un-forbidden’ weapons and when he asked the soldier explained that he meant knives. My husband explained that indeed we had kitchen knives and other sharp tools like screw drivers. He then followed the soldiers as they searched the other rooms and we stayed in the kitchen. As we were sitting there a soldier approached me and asked whether we had 'un-forbidden’ knives. He talked to me in English. I smiled because I didn’t know what he meant by 'un-forbidden’ knives. I told him to go ahead and look in the drawers for 'un-forbidden’ knives. The soldier was clearly exhausted and did not know what he was talking about.”
“The other soldiers and the commander continued to search the rest of the house. During the search the commander asked my husband whether he had any weapons. My husband told him our camera is the only weapon we have. During the search soldiers found empty tear gas canisters which we keep as samples of the types of gas they use against us. The commander asked my husband to stand by the empty canisters and took a picture of him. The commander then went to Usama and Muhammad’s room and searched their school bags. Usama told the commander that he only had school books in his bag. At this moment my son Muhammad wanted to be in his room when the soldiers searched his school bag. The commander then asked Usama and Muhammad whether they had anything illegal or illegal weapons and they told him they didn’t.”
“The commander then asked how old Usama was and asked to see his and our identity cards. I was scared because I thought they were going to arrest Usama. The commander took our identity cards and gave them to a soldier to check the names and numbers against a list of names and identity card numbers of people they wanted to arrest. He then gave us back our identity cards and tried to be as polite as possible. It was clear to us they were not comfortable doing what they were doing, they were irritated and tense and it wasn’t really clear to them what they were doing.”
“When they were done one of the soldiers said 'good night’. This upset me so much, I could not comprehend the fact that they intrude into my house in the middle of the night, wake up my children, cause so much fear and anxiety and then wish us a good night. I could not control myself and told him I wished him the worst night ever. I also told him I wished him nightmares and that images of children would chase him everywhere. “
“In the village we believe that repeated night raids like the one at my house on 26 February 2012 are intended to intimidate and frighten us and to force us to give up the weekly protests we organise in the village against the nearby settlement. We believe it is a form of collective punishment and is intended to send a message that the price of resisting will be too high for us to tolerate.”