(Photo: Hamde Abu Rahme)
Today, November 9 at about 3:00 in the morning, the Israeli army entered the village of Bil'in. About 50 soldiers entered the village by jeep and foot. When they arrived at the two targeted houses, they ran and took positions outside while a number of soldiers entered the house.
At first the soldiers were hammering on the door of one house, demanding to see 30-year old Ashraf al-Khatib. It turned out they went to the wrong house. They then went to another house – forcing one of Ashraf's brothers to show them where Ashraf lives. Soldiers then entered that house, and his brother's family's house, and again they woke up the family, asking for Ashraf al-Khatib. His brother, Haytham al-Khatib, is a journalist from the human right's group B'tselem and was of the ones woken up by the army. Even though they entered a house where their target didn't live, they stayed there for about one and a half hours, searching all the rooms.
Haytham al-Khatib told me about his 6-year-old son's reaction to waking up to see dozens of soldiers in his house, "he asked me to close the door, because he didn't want to see them." Haytham himself was prevented when he wanted to record the raid in his family's houses – the soldiers simply locked him in a room for more than an hour, away from his children and wife. The children in the houses are ages 1,5 and 8 years old, and this is not the first time they have seen their homes raided at night.
However, after 1.5 hours of searching for the target in three houses, two of which he doesn't reside in, Ashraf al-Khatib was not found. Five weeks ago Ashraf was shot in his leg with live ammunition by an Israeli soldier during a demonstration in Bil'in. The bullet went through his leg, breaking the bone. Even though he was heavily injured and in major pain, the soldiers tried to arrest him. Luckily he was brought to safety, and then taken to a hospital for surgery by fellow protesters. Tonight the army decided to come and take him in front of his wife and 1.5 year old daughter instead.
The soldiers finally retreated from the targeted houses by foot, walking toward the military road that follows the illegal segregation fence in Bil'in, at about 4.30 AM. The village of Bil'in has suffered from frequent night raids over the last few years, and a number of villagers have been taken for interrogation and imprisoned for their non-violent resistance to the occupation and segregation wall on Bil'in's land.
(Photo: Hamde Abu Rahme)