Day-Long Invasion in Beit Ommar: Two Shot, One Arrested

15 April 2007

Last night at approximately 10pm the Israeli Occupation Forces invaded the home of Mohammed Mahmoud Abu Ayyesh, near the entrance to Beit Ommar. They forced the family outside and ‘checked’ the house. They also ‘checked’ the family, and hit two of the women who did not want to be patted down by the soldiers. The only reason the soldiers gave them was that it was for “security”. This morning at approximately 9:30am an IOF bulldozer was brought to the land of the same family and bulldozed one dunum of land, including fruit trees. The military also closed the entrance to the village and again said it was in the name of “security”. The land is directly across the street from the military watchtower and is not of any strategic importance. Soon after an international with PSP arrived, the bulldozer and jeeps left and the entrance was opened. However, the day of invasions had just begun.

At approximately 12pm soldiers came to the other side of the village from the Karme Tsur settlement. One jeep and one humvee arrived with approximately 6 soldiers who immediately came into the Palestinian vineyards and began shooting rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and live ammunition and boys who came and were throwing stones at the armored vehicles. The soldiers shot indiscriminately, regardless of whether the boys were throwing stones or simply watching. They also shot tear gas into the yards of nearby houses, sending women and children running from their homes.

The soldiers then entered the village and approached Ibrahim Abu Maria, brother of Yousef Abu Maria who was arrested in south Betlehem at a demonstration this past friday. They took his ID and then arrested him, stating that boys were throwing stones from the roof of his home. Ibrahim was blindfolded and handcuffed in the jeep. Approximately 2 hours later he was released. They also stopped a photographer with European Pressphoto Agency and forced him to delete all of the photos from his camera.
During the invasion two boys were also shot with live ammunition: Mohammed Shouket Soleiby, and Shadi Ichmais. One was shot in the leg and the other in the upper bicep. Both were taken to the hospital in Hebron. IOF invasions, particularly in the area near the Karme Tsur settlement are quite common in Beit Ommar, and are almost always simply a provocative show of force.