Beit Ommar: 3 Nights of Israeli Military Invasions

20 July 2008

For three of the past four nights soldiers have entered Beit Ommar en masse, entering many homes and shooting live ammunition. It began at 2 am Thursday morning when five jeeps entered the village and fired volleys of live ammunition into the air. Over bullhorns, they declared a curfew, forbidding anyone from leaving their homes. They then spent over an hour driving through the village, seemingly just taunting the residents. No arrests were made and there was not even the premise of looking for “wanted” individuals; soldiers did not enter any homes but seemed content to impose their control over the village arbitrarily. The next evening was even more intrusive.

Beginning at approximately 10 pm Thursday evening, Israeli Occupation Forces set up a checkpoint at the entrance to the village and closed the gate, preventing both cars and people on foot from either leaving the village. At 1am Friday morning, more than 5 jeeps entered the village down the main road and surrounded the mosque in the center of town. They then began kicking doors and in some cases breaking doors down of more than a dozen homes in the surrounding area, demanding all residents, including small frightened children, to exit their homes and stand out on the street while soldiers searched their homes. It was apparently another form of harassment; the soldiers insisted they were looking for “stone-throwers” but made no arrests and were clearly not looking for anyone in particular. They continued the home invasions for nearly three hours, leaving the village at around 4am.
Again last night, Saturday, at around 10pm, soldiers entered the village, this time taking up positions around another mosque. They soon retreated, however, to the entrance to the village. When approached by international activists from PSP the soldiers asked to see the passport of one activist, and then told him that it was illegal for them to be in Beit Ommar. The reason? The soldier said that right now Beit Ommar was not part of Israel (and therefore the visa the international received to enter Israel did not apply), though it soon would be. It was a glimpse into the mentality of many of the soldiers who knock down doors, order elderly women and children outside in the middle of the night and shoot unarmed civilians; they are proud to admit that they are in Beit Ommar and the rest of the West Bank not as a defense force but as an occupying foreign army.