Israeli soldiers arresting a Palestinian youth at a Hebron checkpoint. (Photo: AFP)
A newly released report submitted to the United Nations by international organizations working in Al-Khalil (Hebron) documents a sharp increase in serious human rights violations against Palestinian civilians, particularly youth and children, living in the Old City and Tel Rumeida.
Since its arrival on December 27, 2011, the Israeli Golani Brigade has undertaken deliberate harassment and targeting of the Palestinian population of Al-Khalil, according to the report by Christian Peacemaker Teams and International Solidarity Movement, among others.
The report documents an increase in arrests and detentions of adults and children, serious physical injuries sustained while in military custody, home invasions, and an increase in the number and duration of arbitrary detentions of civilians at checkpoints. It also documents harassment of and attempts to silence international observers attempting to document these abuses.
And as for the usual military justifications, these human rights violations have occurred without any observed provocation on the part of Palestinians. These eye-witness accounts, either reported to or recorded by Internationals working in the city, are believed to represent only a small portion of the total number of abuses. For example:
On Thursday, January 12th: Golani beat a developmentally disabled young man when he knocked on the checkpoint door after they closed it in front of him. That evening, they attacked his mother and severely beat the teenager’s younger brother, cracking his skull, and then arrested the two young men.
On Tuesday, January 17th: Golani entered a man’s home at night, pushed the family out of their house, including their 1½ year old son, and beat the father, for which he required medical treatment.
On Friday, January 20th: Golani held a 10 and 12 year-old boy behind the gate of the Beit Romano settlement. A witness said the boys had been wearing ski masks because of the cold weather, but had not been throwing rocks, as the soldiers claimed. The soldiers gave the boys’ parents a list containing the names of five other boys from the Old City, saying that if the parents brought those boys to the gate, the soldiers would release the other two.
Internationals working in Al-Khalil have called for an immediate withdrawal of the Golani Brigade, citing fears that the abuses will continue to escalate and make life unbearable for Palestinians should the soldiers remain another two to five months as expected.
The full report is available here for viewing, along with video and photos.