Beit Ommar’s Children Face Harassment, Detention

3 July 2010

Since the middle of June, over a dozen youth from Beit Ommar under the age of 18 have been arrested, most of whom live near the illegal Israeli settlement, Karmei Tsur. In one instance, a 7 year old boy was also given a summons to present himself to Israeli security in the Etzion settlement, an incident the Israeli military reportedly now says was a “mistake” and that the summons was meant for another, older boy of the same age. This week a 12 year old boy will also be attending a military court hearing after being arrested last month.

As a campaign of harassment and intimidation, all of these arrests occur in the middle of the night, when often-masked commandos raid homes, forcing everyone out into the street, including women and small children, sometimes for several hours, while the search the home and detain the male youth. Parents are often faced with the awful choice of turning their sons in or risk having their young children terrorized during these night raids. The younger siblings of these boys often suffer lasting symptoms of trauma, including sleeplessness, bed-wetting and extreme anxiety.

Yousef Abu Hashem, 18, was arrested at a flying checkpoint in a northern district of the West Bank where he was working. He is the son of National Committee member and PSP member Ahmed Abu Hashem (Abu Maria). His older brother, Tha’er, was then arrested from his home early Thursday morning along with 3 other boys from the village. They have 5 younger siblings and one 2-week old niece who were all in the home at the time Tha’er was arrested.

‘Amar Abu Maria, 17, nephew of popular resistance leaders in Beit Ommar Mousa and Yousef Abu Maria, was summoned to present himself for “investigation” at the Etzion military base two weeks ago. After Israeli soldiers came to his home several times in the middle of the night looking for him, and told his mother they would “come in shooting” the next time, his father drove him to the military base where he turned himself in. He has been detained ever since.

As an attempt to respond to the extensive adverse affects these arrests have had on the community, the Beit Ommar city council, in cooperation with several NGO’s including the Addameer center for prisoner rights and Save the Children, are holding a series of events for the families of previously detained youth to provide information on how families can support their traumatized children and advocate for their rights while they are in occupation prisons.