10 Arrested as Beit Ommar is Shut Down Once Again

14 April 2009

On Monday, April 13, at approximately 6 pm dozens of Israeli soldiers and civilian police, as well as members of Shabak (Israeli intelligence) descended on the entrance of Beit Ommar, creating a temporary or “flying” checkpoint on Route 60 that stopped Palestinian traffic for several kilometers in both directions (Israeli settler traffic was allowed through as Palestinians were forced to wait) for nearly an hour. Soldiers began checking the ID cards of every passenger of each car as it passed and pulled three men from one car. These men were handcuffed and taken to the side of the road where they were forced to kneel facing away from the road as soldiers blindfolded them. One of the men arrested is a member of the Palestinian Authority’s own security services, a group usually exempt from such treatment because of their general cooperation with the Israeli government.
Soldiers then began violently attacking the group of people who had gathered at the entrance to the village (most of whom were waiting for taxis to be allowed into the village and onward to Sourif, all of which were stopped for the duration of the ‘operation’), pushing men and women in all directions, pointing their guns in the faces of drivers as they attempted to turn around and threatening to shoot. They also arrested another young man who was seemingly randomly pulled off the street. Soldiers also verbally abused Palestinian and international women as they were detained walking into the village, in what was a feeble attempt to harass and intimidate them.

Nearly simultaneously, Israeli soldiers also entered Saffa, a district of Beit Ommar that has been subjected to daily incursions for the past 10 days, and arrested 6 men from their homes and the street.
Following the arrests several jeeps of soldiers entered central Beit Ommar and attempted to provoke the youth, shouting insults from the jeeps and shooting tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets indiscriminately. No one was injured and all but one of the men arrested after the enormous show of force were released the next day.