By Mohammad Shaaban
A new B’Tselem investigation revealed a heinous Israeli crime of abusing five defenceless Palestinian women in occupied Hebron, where Israeli troops forced them at gunpoint to undress in front of their children, which angered the Palestinians and has been strongly condemned by human rights organizations and Palestinian national bodies.
On July 10, at 1:30 am, a 50-member Israeli armed unit, accompanied by two ferocious police dogs, raided the Al-Ajaloni family house in Hebron, where 26 Palestinians, including 15 children, live, according to the investigation.
Half of the soldiers broke into the house while all the family were sleeping and turned on lights at their faces to wake them up. Most of them were masked and nothing was shown except their eyes.
Israeli forces separated the men from their wives and daughters and started abusing the women, who are the mother Afaf, 53, her daughter Zinaf, 17, and the wives of her three sons: Amal, Diala and Rawan – in their twenties, forcing them to take off their clothes and walk around in front of their little children.
My husband shouted at the soldiers, telling them to get away and put the dogs away. My daughters screamed and cried and trembled with fear. The soldiers did not allow my husband to speak to me, but rather pointed their weapons at his head and dragged him into the kitchen. [Dalia, 24]
The first person they called was Amal, 25, and she was forced to undress in front of her four children who had just woken up. They were forced to see their mother while crying and the soldiers were ordering her to take off her clothes and walk around naked. She felt humiliation and disability along with the fear of guns and terrifying dogs.
After she took off her prayer dress, the soldiers ordered her to continue undressing, but she refused and indicated that there was nothing on her body except for her underwear, which couldn’t hide anything. Suddenly, they unleashed the huge dog at her which was to touch her, but she cried to take it away, so she undressed in front of the soldiers who were heard laughing.
The same humiliating and inhume process was applied to other women in front of their kids. Their cries and screams were heard by other family members who were held in the kitchen and prevented from even speaking.
At 5:30 am, the soldiers left the house detaining the oldest son, Harbi. Family members said they immediately discovered the disappearance of the bag of gold jewellery that the youngest son, Mohammad, bought for his upcoming marriage, worth forty thousand shekels – 10,500 US dollars.
Later, the men rushed to the Kiryat Arba police station in Hebron to file a complaint. There they heard “nothing was stolen”, but they insisted it was stolen. The next day, they received a call from the police to come and take the gold, claiming that the soldiers thought it was a bag of bullets. Another 2000 shekels were stolen, but the police denied.
Not the first
During her 15 years of work in B’Tselem, Manal Al-Jabari, the organization’s investigator in Hebron, documented about 20 such cases. According to her estimation, in recent months, evidence of women being stripped entirely at gunpoint by Israeli forces has escalated, but most women refuse to be interviewed after they’re traumatized.
She pointed out that the women of Al-Ajlouni hardly agreed to be interviewed and talk about the abuse they were subjected to on the condition that they not be photographed.
Al-Jabari said that she was ordered to undress her clothes by Israeli forces in a night raid on many raids in Hebron on August 21, but she rejected it many times and the soldiers insisted on undressing her. She managed to not do so, saying it “might be because I am a member of the Israeli B’Tslelm Human Rights Center.”
But the Israeli soldiers damaged all the contents of her house as they did in the other raided houses, and the same happened to the Al-Ajlouni house, said Al-Jabari.
Palestinian Anger Rises
Following the heartbreaking news of this heinous Israeli crime, Palestinians mobilized for great marches and protests for great marches in central Hebron this afternoon to reject and condemn the Israeli forces’ raid on the Palestinian house.
The spokesman for the Islamic Jihad Movement Tariq Selmi stressed that such a criminal attack on defenceless women is a new attack against all the Palestinian people.
In Gaza, dozens of women held a protest against the Israeli attacks on the women and the abuse of them at gunpoint, and they called on all human rights and women’s affairs organizations to act urgently to defend Palestinian women.
The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas considered this crime a dangerous escalation, stressing that “all the Israeli occupation’s crimes and violations will fail in the face of the steadfastness and determination of the Palestinian people.”
The Palestinian resistance group, Lions’ Den warned in a statement today against the Israeli attacks and vowed to retaliate to the Israeli forces’ abuse of the women in Hebron. They stressed that any attack on the Palestinian woman is a red line that everyone must not remain silent about.
In retaliation to this crime, Confrontations erupted at the northern entrance to the Hebon town of Beit Ummar, where defenceless Palestinians repelled Israeli armed units with stones, while the Israeli forces fired live bullets and toxic tear gas at the citizens, wounding two Palestinians. Dozens of others suffered from the toxic gas inhalation.
Palestinians across occupied Palestine called on the Palestinian resistance factions to respond to this crime in a way that deters the occupation from committing more crimes and protects the rights of Palestinian women.
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