As the largest military operation in the West Bank in a decade enters its second week, Israel raided H2, the area of Hebron under Israeli security control, for the first time since the second Intifada. Overnight 200 soldiers were deployed to arrest eight Palestinians, including five from one family. In the process seven others were hospitalized after sustaining injuries inflicted by the Israeli army. Huda Bassam al-Jaberi was treated with ten stiches after a soldier stabbed her in the hand. The Israeli raids on the West Bank come following the believed abduction of three Israeli youths hitchhiking in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc.
The arrests began after midnight near the Rajbi building, an impressive four-story structure taken over by settlers earlier this year after a blessing from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The settlers originally moved in backed in 2008, but were evicted by a court order. After Netanyahu encouraged them to again claim the site which links the settlements of Kiryat Arba and Hebron, the court never objected.
Awake in the middle of the night, Palestinian activist Badia Dwaik heard the arrests in progress and walked toward the Rajbi building. “I decided to go inside to find out what is the situation, to go more deep than most people,” said Dwaik who filmed the incident from 200 meters away. The recording is rough. The night scene on the street is dark, but the audio picks up soldiers explaining the arrests began after settlers assaulted Palestinians. Also Dwaik edits in his trip to the hospital later that same night.
While watching the incursion by the Rajbi building, soldiers fired a sound grenade at Dwaik, prompting him to flee. Dwaik said four soldiers followed him as he walked away. One pointed a gun at him and the others beat him, Dwaik said. “They threatened if I do not leave they will shoot me.” The soldiers then grabbed Dwaik’s camera and threw it on the ground.
Dwaik posted this message on Facebook this morning re-capping the incident:
When we arrived at Al-Ras area, where is located Al-Rajabi building, which has been occupied again by settlers, soldiers prevented me to access the site to document the attacks against residents, where it was being perpetrated a campaign of incursions, home searches, and arrests, by some 200 occupier soldiers. When I advanced, they threw stun grenades near me, then a group of masked soldiers chased me, attacked me and hit me, then broken the camera on the floor, and pushed me out from place, where the attacks against residents continue until morning.
Since the manhunt for the three Israelis kidnapped began on June 13th a massive campaign of arrests have taken place across the West Bank with air strikes in Gaza. Over 500 have been arrested with 144 placed under administrative detention (arrest without charge), according to the Palestinian prisoner rights group Addameer. In Hebron where the search has centered, the Israeli Defense Forces have erected 10 new checkpoints and stationed over 2,000 additional soldiers. Areas in the north of the city have been declared closed military zones and in the south and western districts, hundreds of soldiers patrol the streets by day.