Middle East Monitor / February 4, 2022
Israeli soldiers held a Palestinian family hostage in a storeroom, where they were attacked and beaten, human rights group B’Tselem revealed.
The 21-member Salhab family, based in the Khirbet Qalqas neighbourhood in occupied Southern Hebron, were disturbed after midnight on 12 December 2021 by 20 Israeli soldiers who demanded the whereabouts of their 24-year old son Anas, a student at Hebron University.
According to the father, Mahmoud Salhab, 57, the soldiers locked Anas in his room on the ground floor of the building and locked the rest of the family, including seven minors, in a storeroom as ten Israeli soldiers stood guard.
Mahmoud recounted haunting details from that day such as the harrowing screams of their son who was being shouted at and beaten in the adjacent room.
When Mahmoud’s son Ibrahim, 16, protested against his brother’s abuse, the soldiers attacked and beat him too. Moreover, soldiers dragged Ibrahim’s 24-year-old cousin, Osama Salhab, along the storeroom floor, resulting in a head injury as an empty bowl smashed on his head. The soldiers called a military ambulance that took him to Soroka Medical Centre in Beersheba.
“About 10 other soldiers attacked me. They punched me, beat me with their rifle butts, kicked me and then knocked me down. I kept shouting and asking them to stop hitting me. I asked what I’d done to them. They just told me to shut up and kept beating me,” said Ibrahim.
At around 2:30am, the soldiers handcuffed and blindfolded Anas as they left to drive for several hours until they arrived at the illegal Etzion settlement bloc, south of the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem at 8:30am and held him inside a military jeep until noon with no food, water or access to a toilet.
According to Detainees and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs Commission, there are 24 Palestinian minors in the detention facility of Etzion who account for two thirds of the total number of detainees there. The majority have been subjected to various forms of torture – both physical and psychological – during their detention and interrogation.
Anas was interrogated by an Israeli officer, who warned him not to participate in illegal activities, after which he was released and sent home with other students who had been called in to receive the same warning.
The horrific incident resulted in five family members being taken to the Alia Governmental Hospital in Hebron.
Night raids by the Israeli army are a near daily practice in the occupied West Bank. Israel claims that such raids are essential for intelligence purposes, but rights groups have slammed the practice, insisting that the goal is to oppress and intimidate the Palestinian population and increase state control. Like checkpoints and the illegal Wall, the raids are part of the DNA of the occupation, say critics.