AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): International observers under threats of arrest and death by Israeli Army’s Golani Brigade

10 March 2012
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): International observers under threats of arrest and death by Israeli Army’s Golani Brigade

 Since publication of the CPT report, Under Attack: Golani Brigade's war on the Palestinian population of Al-Khalil (Hebron), the Israeli army’s Golani Brigade has threatened CPTers with arrest and death several times.  The report documents the recent escalation of human rights abuses in Al Khalil.  These threats are an attempt to prevent CPT and other international organizations from continuing to document ongoing human rights abuses, including violence and harassment, committed by soldiers against the civilian population of Al-Khalil.

According to International law and Israeli law, international observers have the right to document the actions of soldiers unless their presence interferes directly with the military’s duties.  Members of CPT have told soldiers that they are present in Al-Khalil merely to document soldiers’ actions, but have been told by soldiers that they are subject to arrest whenever they attempt to follow military patrols through residential areas, film, or remain present during searches or interrogations of civilians.  Twice in recent weeks, soldiers threatened to shoot or kill a CPT member.  In multiple instances, soldiers used the threat of arrest to prevent CPTers from observing and documenting incidents that included the detention or intimidation of children.

Summary of incidents

Incidents in which CPT was threatened with arrest while attempting to observe the Israeli Army’s Golani brigade:

On 14 February at around 4:00 p.m., two people from CPT encountered a patrol of eight Golani soldiers in the Old City.  The soldiers told them that if they attempted to follow the patrol they would be arrested.  The soldiers body searched two men against a wall in Babb al Baladiya, and then stopped a twelve-year-old boy, who was headed for the Ibrahimi mosque and was carrying a large plastic bag of folded tissues.  Following the soldiers’ orders, the boy opened the top of the bag.  The soldiers then ripped the bag open, grabbed the boy by the coat, and lead him out of the CPTers’ sight.  The soldiers told CPT members that if they attempted to follow they would be arrested.  They held the boy out of the sight of internationals and then released him.

On 18 February around 4:00 p.m., Golani soldiers in Bab al Baladiya detained four youths, age 12-17, and began to take them through the Old City.  The soldiers wanted to know were the boys lived.  Two people from CPT were present and followed the soldiers, along with the mother of one of the boys.  The soldiers used their rifles to shove the mother and CPTers back, and repeatedly told CPTers and the mother that if they continued to walk with them they would be arrested.  The soldiers took the boys into a nearby settlement and then to the Kiryat Arba police station.  The police later released the boys.

On 20 February, at around 8:30 a.m., CPT encountered a group of four Golani soldiers who were stopping people and checking IDs in the shopping area of the Old City.  After checking IDs for about forty minutes, the soldiers were joined by four more soldiers and the patrol moved into the nearby residential streets.  When members of CPT attempted to follow twenty meters behind the patrol, the soldiers threatened them with arrest.  CPTers explained that they were not intending to interfere with the soldiers and the soldiers told them, “We are the law and we say you cannot follow us.”

On 20 February at around 6:00 p.m., soldiers detained a Palestinian photographer and an international observer at checkpoint 56 for one hour because they were taking pictures.  The soldiers told CPTers that if they took photos of the detention they would detain and arrest them.

On 26 February at around 4:00 p.m., a patrol of six Golani soldiers stopped four young boys above Bab al Baladiya and took them up into the residential area above the bus station.  They told a member of CPT that he could not follow and that they would arrest him if he continued.  The soldiers were showing the boys photos on a camera and asking them to tell the soldiers the names of the young men in the photos and where they lived.  Another member of CPT approached from another direction and met the soldiers and the boys.  The soldiers told that member of CPT that she would be arrested if she approached them.  They then released the children.

On 3 March, two people from CPT attempted to follow a late afternoon patrol of twelve Golani soldiers in Hebron’s Old City but were told if they continued they would be arrested.

On 6 March at around 3:00 p.m., a Golani patrol took two young boys (about ten years of age) up to the rooftop of a Palestinian home in the Old City to interrogate them.  Two CPT members followed them to the roof to observe the incident.  Soldiers told the CPT members to leave the roof or face arrest.  Soldiers released the boys after a few minutes and they told CPT the soldiers wanted to know who was throwing stones at the soldiers and who was breaking windows at the settlement.

Incidents when Israeli Army’s Golani Brigade threatened to shoot and/or kill CPT:

On 25 February at around 3:30 PM during the weekly tour of Israeli settlers through the Old City, Golani soldiers told CPTers and other international observers that they had to be back fifteen meters from the soldiers.  CPT moved back and continued to observe, whereupon a soldier ran forward towards the CPTers and International observers, aimed his rifle at them, and said, “I want to shoot you through the head with a bullet.”

On 5 February, around 7:30 a.m., a member of CPT stopped to observe a Golani soldier yelling at two Palestinians from a rooftop.  When the CPTer remained to watch, the soldier told the CPTer to leave.  When the CPTer refused, the soldier then pulled out his gun, looked through the scope, and pointed it at the CPTer and told him to leave again and motioned with his gun.  The CPTer left the sight of the soldier and returned with a camera.  The soldier then stopped pointing his gun at the CPT and left the viewing area of the CPT member.