Vicious Invasion in Beit Ommar Leaves 3 Hospitalized, 9 Kidnapped

24 July 2008

Soldiers with the Israeli Occupation Forces first arrived in Beit Ommar on Wednesday, July 23, in the morning, creating a checkpoint at the entrance to the village and checking every Palestinian’s ID as they went in or out. They did not seem to be looking for anyone in particular, but rather continuing on their increasingly invasive campaign of harassment which took another turn earlier this week when a curfew was announced in the middle of the afternoon, only to be lifted a few hours later after homes were invaded and copious amounts of tear gas shot. On Wednesday, events turned even worse. After a few hours when the soldiers seemed to have left the village, 3 jeeps and 3 Armored Personnel Carriers entered the village at around 8 pm. They began shooting tear gas and throwing massive flash grenades in the streets, frightening local children as the sun went down. For approximately 3 hours, the soldiers contented themselves with driving into the center of town, waiting for young men and small boys to come out and throw harmless rocks and bottles at the armored vehicles, and then rushing out of their jeeps, scattering the boys with tear gas and sound grenades. However, at approximately 11:30pm soldiers began invading homes, pulling out young men at random and arresting them without explanation. At approximately 12am Ibrahim Awwad, who works with the Palestinian police, was shot in the chest from less than 20 meters with a rubber-coated steel bullet; less than half the legal distance for the use of that weaponry, while standing in the doorway of his home. As his mother and aunts tried to pull him inside the house, soldiers ran up and began savagely beating the women, kicking them in the ribs while they were on the ground. They then took Ibrahim, saying he would be taken to their own medical facilities. Also injured at that time was Mahmoud Awwad, who was shot in the leg with a rubber-coated steel bullet from very close range. After an ambulance was delayed for almost an hour at the entrance to the village, he was also evacuated and taken to a hospital in Hebron. A third boy, Mohammed Samir Awwad, 18, was shot in the back of the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet, which can be deadly at any range. He, too, was taken to a hospital, over an hour after he was shot.

By the end of the evening 9 boys and men, the youngest being 15 years old, had been taken. Palestinian and International activists with Palestine Solidarity Project then went to the entrance of the village where they confronted the soldiers as they were leaving with the prisoners. While taking pictures, an elderly man from nearby approached PSP, saying his son who had been arrested had a documented medical problem and needed to be given regular medical treatment. One of the internationals approached the soldiers, asking to speak to the commander. Soldiers who moments before had been ordering the internationals out of the area in English suddenly couldn’t understand the request. The international was violently shoved and then dragged away from the jeep by a soldier who then called her a whore in Arabic in a clear attempt to anger the Palestinians in the area. As the soldiers jumped back into their jeeps, one began chanting over the loudspeaker, “fuck you, fuck you, fuck you” in English, and laughing. The driver of the other vehicle flipped off the activists as they drove away, clearly treating this night of injury and terror as a joke, or a game to play, with complete disregard and open contempt for the lives that were affected.