B’Tselem reports Settlers throw stones at Palestinian’s home; security forces then arrest and abuse him for 72 hours
On Thursday, 19 May 2022, at around 7:30 P.M., about 20 young settlers threw stones from the Beit Hadassah settlement at the Abu Hayah family’s home, which lies nearby, in the city center of Hebron. A soldier stood at a nearby observation post watching the incident but did nothing to intervene.
Muhammad Abu Hayah (43), who volunteers with B’Tselem’s camera distribution project, went up to the roof of his home with his son Maher (20) to try and drive the settlers away. Soldiers entered the yard of the settlement and led the assailants inside the building, but the settlers broke away and continued throwing stones. Maher Abu Hayah called the Israel Police and was assured that a police car would be sent to the scene. After three other soldiers joined the soldier at the observation post, Abu Hayah picked up a sack of soil that was lying on the roof and threatened to throw it at the settlers. He then put it down and went back inside with his father. A few minutes later, about 10 soldiers entered the family’s home, arrested Maher and took him away. It later transpired that one of the soldiers had taken a photo of him just as he was holding the sack of soil. From that moment on, Abu Hayah was subjected to a sequence of abuse that lasted about 72 hours.
First, the soldiers led Abu Hayah – blindfolded and with his feet and hands tied – to the roof of an abandoned building, where they held him until 7:00 A.M. He was then driven by jeep to a military camp, where he signed documents without knowing what they said. From there, he was transferred to the Etzion detention facility. He was put in a holding cell, where he slept until the following morning. At 6:30 A.M., soldiers took Abu Hayah to the police station in the settlement of Kiryat Arba, mocking him along the way and singing a blasphemous song against the Prophet Muhammad. The interrogator told him the soldiers were accusing him of throwing stones – a charge he denied – and then the soldiers took him away. At one of the checkpoints along the way, the soldiers got of the jeep and another soldier got in. He moved the handcuffed Abu Hayah to a seat in the back and drove at high speed for about five minutes. Abu Hayah fell off the seat and banged against the sides of the jeep.
The soldiers then took Abu Hayah back to the detention facility, where he slept until morning. At 8:00 P.M. that evening, three days after he was arrested, he was released. One of the soldiers led him out of the prison and told him to go home. Throughout his time in detention, Abu Hayah barely ate due to the poor quality of the food provided him.
This case illustrates, yet again, how little control Palestinians in the Occupied Territories have over their lives: Abu Hayah was taken from his home in the evening, with no justification, and cut off from his environment, including his family, who did not know what happened to him. He was transferred from one place to another without being told, at any stage, where he was being taken or what lay ahead. He was beaten, humiliated, imprisoned and starved – and then, about 72 hours later, told to go home. This was a non-incident to the Israeli authorities; that is why no one will be held accountable for the conduct of the soldiers, the police and the correctional officers in this case. As far as they are concerned, Abu Hayah went home and that ended the matter. Case closed.
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