Ambulance Attacked, Home Ransacked As 2 Are Shot, 4 Arrested in Beit Ommar

27 July 2008

At approximately 3:30pm Saturday, July 26, dozens of soldiers entered Beit Ommar on foot, followed by several jeeps and large Armored Personnel Carriers (APC’s). They took up several positions around the main mosque and began shooting at residents and homes indiscriminately. They almost immediately began using live ammunition, though they also shot tear gas, percussion grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets. They were also found using plastic-coated steel bullets which are round steel balls covered in plastic a millimeter thick and shot in a spray which have been outlawed internationally. At approximately 5pm a young man, age 20, was shot through both of his arms with live ammunition. He was successfully evacuated by a Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance to Hebron. The next man who was severely injured was not so lucky. Mohammed Younis, 20, was shot in the head with a plastic-coated steel bullet. As a second ambulance arrived and medics began to assess his injury, the medics were assaulted by soldiers who pushed them to the ground. Younis, his head covered in blood, was then arrested. When his older brother came to his aid he too was arrested. Both are currently being held in Etzion prison.
After photographing the soldiers in the center of town, including the ambulance that had been stopped there, internationals with PSP followed the soldiers to the entrance of the town as they were leaving. Soldiers had set up a make-shift checkpoint at the entrance to the village and when the internationals drove up soldiers grabbed one of the internationals by the arm and began pulling him out of the car. He then told the international activist to open his bag, which he did. The international had picked up the used cartridge of the plastic-coated steel bullets as evidence of their use and had it in his bag. The soldiers made everyone get out of the car and then handed back the cartridge and told the international he would have to show the soldier his camera. This time, the internationals were successful in preventing the soldiers from getting any of their cameras and after briefly being herded into a nearby shop and threatened that if they saw the activists taking pictures of them again they would beat them up, the soldiers left.

Meanwhile, in the area of Saffa, soldiers first tried to enter one house, and finding it closed and not easy to break into, went on to the next home, in which 7 people including 2 small children were living. The soldiers ordered the family into one room, holding them at gunpoint and then locking them in. They then ransacked the home, destroying the home computer by pulling out the cables and stealing the hard drive, breaking clothing cabinets and tearing up bedding and closets. They then took the youngest boy of the house, 4 years old, and handed him a long stick with two handles that was in the house, forcing him to hold it like a rifle. The soldiers then took a picture of the young boy. When two men, age 20, came up to the house from the nearby fields when they saw soldiers entering the home, they were immediately arrested. Neither had been arrested before nor had they been in the village when stones were being thrown (the most common “charge” against young Palestinians arrested during invasions). They, too, are being held in Etzion prison. The charges against any of the men are unknown.