“Dir balak, Hammoudeh,” – “Be careful, Hammoudeh (a common nickname for Muhammad)” – these could be the words of any mother as her child leaves the house, to school or out into the street to play. “Dir balak” – words ingrained in me from childhood.
But in this video, they’re the words of a parent watching as a 15-year-old son is dragged off in the middle of the night by heavily-armed Israeli soldiers in full battle gear.
Adults shout at the soldiers, and even beg to be taken along as well, but ultimately they are powerless as their children are taken off coughing amid billowing clouds of tear gas.
One soldier in the video appears to be filming the raid with an iPhone. Perhaps he’ll proudly put it up on his Facebook page?
For Muhammad Ahmad Khalil Abu Hashem, 15, this is his second arrest, and according to Bekah Wolf, founder of the Palestine Solidarity Project which took the video, Muhammad’s older brother was arrested last week.
Their crime? Most likely it is simply that their father Ahmad Abu Hashem, is a member of the Popular Committee of Beit Ommar, and thus harassing his children – the occupiers believe – may be a way to punish or deter him from his work organizing nonviolent resistance against the ongoing theft of village lands.
Systematic campaign against children
This horrible, violent routine is repeated all over the Israeli-occupied West Bank, night after night, and especially in the village of Beit Ommar, where popular resistance to land theft by Israel has been met by the Israeli army with a systematic campaign of arrests and abuse of the village’s children.
Last night was no exception, as the text accompanying the video, taken by the Palestine Solidarity Project, explains, three children and an adult were taken:
On April 23, 2012, at about 3:00 am, Israeli soldiers broke into the house of Ahmad Abu Hashem, a member of the Popular Committee of Beit Ommar, for the second time in a week. This time they arrested his 15-year-old son Mohamad Ahmad Khalil Abu Hashem. In total, four people were arrested during the raid last night. Three of them are under the age of 18. Those arrested were:
- Mohamad Ahmad Khalil Abu Hashem, 15 years old.
- Tareq Jamal Khalil Abu Maria, 17 years old.
- Badran Jalal Badran Abu Ayash, 15 years old.
- Wahed Hamdi Abu Maria, 44 years old.
The soldiers broke into their houses at night and harassed the families and fired several canisters of teargas. The ambulance was called because people were injured after inhaling the gas.
19 people have been arrested from Beit Ommar so far this month, and 13 of these are under the age of 18. Night raids are almost a nightly occurrence in Beit Ommar, to create fear in the community and to discourage people from resisting the occupation. Residents of Beit Ommar are frequently arrested with no charges held against them, and usually have to pay fines between 1000 and 4000 shekels in order to be released.
As I blogged yesterday, Israel’s detentions of Palestinian children have shot up 53 percent since December. Watch this video and imagine yourself as a child, or your children growing up with this reality, day after day, year after year, and with no end in sight, because this Israeli occupation, the entire system of Israeli apartheid and oppression is aided, abetted and financed by the United States and the European Union and tolerated limitlessly by the so-called “international community.”