Israeli Military Occupy Homes Near Entrance to Beit Ommar

26 February 2008

Last night at approximately 6pm Israeli soldiers, wearing black masks and heavily armed, invaded the homes of the Abu Ayyesh family, near the watchtower, and Sabarnah family on Route 60. The head of the Abu Ayyesh family is an elderly man with a heart condition. The current mayor of the village contacted members of the Popular Committee and PSP who immediately went to the home and attempted to gain entry. Soldiers in the house demanded the I.D’s of the members of the Popular Committee and Palestinian activists from PSP. They were holding the family in one room of the house, with all of the lights out. They said they were using the two houses to “look for stone throwers”. A young boy in the house had been forced out of the shower when the soldiers arrived. International activists from ISM and CPT were called and Israeli activists in Jerusalem were also called to the scene. Using residential houses for military outposts is all too common in Occupied Palestine, and is in violation of international law.
When the additional activists arrived, they split up and entered the two houses with video and still cameras. Immediately, soldiers in the home of the Abu Ayyesh’s demanded that the activists give them the cameras. They also demanded that three activists turn over their cell phones. When the activists refused, the soldiers began pushing the activists and trying to grab the cameras. One soldier chambered a bullet in his rifle and aimed it at one of the Israeli activists. Some of the activists then move on to the second house, where neighbors had already arrived to support the family. After heated negotiations, the soldiers left the both houses. No damage (other than the trauma of a home invasion) was done.

The Abu Ayyesh family has felt the impact of Israeli Occupation more than many in the village of Beit Ommar, due to their “strategic” location at the entrance to the village. For more than 10 years, until 2002, the Israeli military had its outpost on the roof of their house. Even after the watchtower was built across the street, the military refused to move the 1-ton cinder blocks, used as sniper posts, which remain to this day on the roof, causing enormous structural damage to the home. During the first intifada, the family had several of its rooms cemented shut, denying them access to part of their house for years, so that the Israeli military could use it as their military station. In April 2007, in retaliation for demonstrations in the village, the Israeli military bulldozed over a dozen fruit trees in front of their home, saying that they were used as “cover” by stone-throwing children. Members of the Popular Committee, PSP, and the Israeli group Ta’ayush replanted several olive trees in the area, which will take over a decade to replace the productive capacity of the trees that were uprooted.