14 July 2008
At 1:30 a.m. on 10 July 2008, Israeli soldiers pulled up by a seven-apartment building in the Hawuz district of Hebron where members of the Amro, Abu Khalaf, Husseini and Butran families live. Through a loudspeaker, soldiers called out the names of men inside and ordered them to come out. The building’s owner, Samir Mohammad Amro, recognized the commander, who told him, ”We need to look for weapons and we will turn this house upside down.” Soldiers then threw five sound bombs into the building, causing general panic among the seven families—including twenty-six children—and ransacked the apartments, saying they were looking for weapons. They flipped couches and chairs over and slashed the cushions with knives (but not in such a way that the gashes would have revealed hidden weapons.) After pulling framed verses from the Quran off the walls in all of the apartments, soldiers stepped on them, smashing the glass. The soldiers also brought dogs and produced a machine that dug through the sewers.
The military forced all the men in the building to stand outside and demanded they strip to their underwear, refusing to allow family members to bring blankets to cover the men. One man from the building told CPTers that the soldier pointing his rifle at him kept dropping off to sleep and he was afraid the soldier would accidentally pull the trigger. Soldiers beat one man, Ashraf Abu Khalef—who was already suffering from neck problems—into unconsciousness. When they left at 4:30 a.m., they took Abu Khalef into custody on a stretcher. Soldiers also stole Euros, Shekels and Jordanian Dinar from the families in an amount totaling about $1,000, as well as most of the families’ cellphones and computers.
One family member was visiting from Germany with her children. The mother told CPTers Tarek Abuata, Kathleen Kern and visitor John Mark Stratford that her fifteen and sixteen-year-old daughters had said, ”We’ve only seen this in the movies.” One boy repeatedly soiled himself out of fear.
Despite the fact that almost no one among the families had slept that night, they served coffee, tea and juice to the CPTers, Stratford and an Italian woman who came to document the invasion. The assembled people generally agreed they were still in shock—and that that was why they could behave calmly and crack jokes. Some of the discussion turned to places Palestinians could go in the world where they would not have to live with terrors such as midnight home invasions. ”Find countries we can live in and we will go,” one man said, but then he added, ”If we go to the moon, Israeli soldiers will follow us with their guns.
Video footage showing the aftermath of the invasion and interviews with family members is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEYD0aFgq5I
Photos of the wreckage are available at: http://cpt.org/gallery/08-07-10-Home-invasion-in-Hawuz