Peace Movement Aotearoa   |   Reports from Hebron

Nighttime round-up of Hebron men

14 September 2006

Christian Peacemaking Team (CPT) Hebron received a telephone call at 10pm on 13 September, saying that soldiers were holding a dozen men near the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) building in the Old City. Team members also saw that soldiers were entering a house near our apartment. Four team members, with a photographer who was staying with us, went to investigate.

Christina Gibb, Cynthia Burnside and the photographer went to the neighbours, while John Lynes and Char Smith went to HRC.

Israeli soldiers had just brought four men out of the neighbours' house, and took them along the street towards the Ibrahimi Mosque, with the CPTers following. They passed some men sitting on the ground, guarded by soldiers, and then were joined by another squad of soldiers bringing 5 more men.

The soldiers took them all through the turnstiles checkpoint, into the open space by the Mosque, where 40 Palestinian men were already sitting on the ground. Each squad of 6 to 10 soldiers turned back for a further search as soon as they had brought one lot of men in. By the Mosque, the soldiers took each man in turn and photographed him holding a sign with his name or ID number.

They then took his fingerprints, and directed him past a barrier to another area. After a short time, the officer in charge first ordered and then pushed the CPTers back through the turnstile, where they stayed by the Mosque Gate.

Meanwhile Lynes and Smith had found a group of detained men at HRC, who were soon moved to the Mosque too. The CPTers followed a squad of soldiers who were systemically banging on all the doors with their rifle butts. One carried a large sledgehammer for forcing the door if it was not opened. Lynes stayed in the alleyway, while Smith went into several houses with the soldiers. They not only searched every room for men aged between about 18 and 35, but also burst into a room where 7 young children were asleep. One soldier pointed his gun at them, but when Smith remonstrated with him he stopped doing so. The mother thanked her profusely.

By 11.30pm there were 90 Palestinian men by the Mosque, and the soldiers returned empty-handed. The last man brought in had his hands cuffed.

Soon his wife arrived, with a very frightened small girl. She complained angrily to an officer that a soldier had stolen money and a necklace.

At midnight, the soldiers started releasing the men one at a time back through the turnstiles and all were at last released by 1.30am.

Photographs by Andreas Apell, Sweden

Reports from Hebron   |   Peace Movement Aotearoa