B’Tselem: Soldiers’ Abuse of Palestinians in Hebron, 3 December 2002

“One of the soldiers who stayed inside told me to sit on the chair and didn’t say why. When I sat down, he took the electric razor… When the soldier put the machine on my hair, I grabbed his hand and asked him what he was doing. He slapped me and told me in Arabic to shut up. The soldier put the machine to my hair forcefully. It hurt. He cut my hair in random lines…”

From the testimony of Bassem Maswadeh, 24

Today B’Tselem is publishing a report exposing a severe incident in which IDF soldiers in Hebron abused Palestinians and used them as human shields.

On Tuesday, 3 December 2002, two days before the ‘Eid el-Fitr holiday, at around 6:00 PM, four soldiers went to Jabel Johar street in the H2 Area of Hebron, which is the area under Israeli control. Five men were in the barbershop on the street at the time: Bassem Maswadeh, 24, the owner of the barbershop, Wa’il Abu Remeileh, 19, a barber, and three customers – Muhammad Jibril a-Rajbi, 22, Bilal Muhammad Daud a-Rajbi, 21, and Shaher Sharif al-‘Ajaluni. Based on testimonies given to B’Tselem, the subsequent events were as follows:

People in the street shouted that soldiers were coming into the area. Maswadeh and Abu Remeileh closed the barbershop’s iron door. A few seconds later, soldiers started banging on the door. When nobody opened it, the soldiers ordered two Palestinian bystanders, Bilal Abu Queidar and Nawaf al-‘Ajaluni, to call out to the people in the barbershop to open up, and threatened to fire into the shop. After about twenty minutes, Maswadeh opened the door.

One soldier danced into the shop and three more soldiers followed him inside. The soldiers demanded that the five Palestinians take off their jackets and hand over their ID cards. The soldiers searched them, punching them in the stomach in the process. Then the soldiers ordered the five Palestinians to sit on the couch.

One of the soldiers asked who the owner of the shop was. Maswadeh said that he was the owner. The soldier ordered him to sit in one of the barber’s chairs and began to cut Maswadeh’s hair with an electric razor. In the meantime, two of the soldiers ordered al-‘Ajaluni to go outside with them, where they beat him. Maswadeh asked the soldier what he was doing, and the soldier slapped him and told him to shut up. He put the razor to his hair forcefully and ignored Maswadeh’s request that he stop. While the soldier was still cutting Maswadeh’s hair, the other soldiers ordered a-Rajbi to go outside, where they searched and beat him as well.

When the soldier finished Maswadeh’s haircut, he ordered him to go outside. The soldier then ordered Abu Remeileh to sit in the barber’s chair, and proceeded to cut his hair as well. The electric razor touched his scalp, and when Abu Remeileh asked the soldier to be gentle, the soldier slapped him. When he finished, the soldier left the barbershop, taking scissors with him. He went over to a-Rajbi and told him that he intended to cut his hair because he had violated curfew. He cut a lock of his hair, held it and put it close to a-Rajib’s mouth, and ordered him to open his mouth. When he refused, the soldier left the hair on his lips and went back into the shop.

The soldier searched the closet inside the shop. He opened a bottle of shampoo, smelled it, went over to Abu Remeileh and told him to open his mouth. When Abu Remeileh refused, the soldier sat him down on one of the chairs and tried to force his mouth open. Then the soldier called to the commander to come inside, and he hit Abu Remeileh in the face with a pail. Abu Remeileh fell to the floor, shouting in pain and with blood oozing from his nose. The soldier kicked him in the abdomen and told him to shut up, threatening to shoot him in the head. The commander dragged Wa’il over to the front door, checked his pulse and said to the soldier: “I told you not to hit him that way.” The commander told Muhammad a-Rajbi to splash some water on Abu Remeileh’s face and cover him with jackets.

As that was going on, the soldiers who had left the barbershop continued to beat the three Palestinians who had been taken outside. A group of Palestinian children began throwing stones at the soldiers, and one of the soldiers ordered Bilal a-Rajbi to tell the children to stop. When that did not help, the soldier took Bilal into the middle of the street, stood behind him, rested his rifle on Bilal’s shoulder, and began to fire at the stone-throwers.

When the stone-throwing continued, the soldiers took the three Palestinians into the middle of the street, stood them one meter away from each other, rested their weapons on the shoulders of the Palestinians, and fired high in the air for an extended period of time. One of the stones almost struck al-‘Ajaluni, and when he tried to move so that he would not be hit, the soldier gave him a hard kick.

After an hour or so passed, the soldiers ran from the area. They still had the ID cards of the five Palestinians. Abu Remeileh was taken to a neighbor’s home and then to the hospital for treatment. The next day, somebody called Abu Remeileh and told him that he had found the five men’s ID cards on the road near Kiryat Arba.

This grave incident is only the tip of the iceberg. Cases of “punishment” and abuse of Palestinians by IDF soldiers in the Occupied Territories occur daily. The IDF must investigate the incident immediately. However, investigation into this incident alone is insufficient. In addition, B’Tselem calls on the IDF to take all the measures necessary to put an end to the abuse and degradation of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

To access the full report click here.

Related Links:

  • B’Tselem
  • CPT in Hebron