May - June Issue #3
Punishment in Sourif Village
Following the discovery and arrests of the 'Sourif Cell,' members,
responsible for a number of attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and
Israel, including the suicide bomb at Cafe Apropos on March 21, the entire
village of Sourif has been facing collective punishment. The village of
Sourif has approximately 15,000 residents. Collective punishment has taken
the form of repeated violations of collective and personal human rights of
villagers, who have NOT been charged or suspected with illegal activities.
This is in addition to the demolition of the homes of the families of
members of the 'Sourif Cell.'
Curfews have been imposed on the village from
21/3 - 6/4, 16/4 - 21/4 (during the Eid holiday) and on the 23/4, as yet
another home was demolished. The entire area has been declared a closed
military area until now, thus forbidding entrance exit from the village.
Journalists are also prevented from entering. This has been the most
brutal and lengthy curfew since the signing of the Declaration of
Principles in September 1993.
Strict Curfew Accompanied by
The curfew has been interrupted every few days
for two hours, to allow villagers to obtain food and water. According to
testimony collected by Bassem Eid of the Palestinian Human Rights
Monitoring Group, the interruptions in the curfews did not allow the
villagers to obtain food supplies, since exit and entrance from the
village was prohibited. Furthermore, residents were BEATEN by border
policemen in the streets as they rushed to prepare for the re-imposition
of the closure. Bilal Muhammed Arar, age 22, was attacked on 14/4 during a
break in the curfew. A jeep with three Border Policemen stopped next to
him and two others, and the driver got out and accused him of throwing
stones. At the time, there was no disturbance in the village. The
policeman held Arar's head between his legs, and beat him on his back with
a helmet. Then four policemen spread him on the floor and all began to hit
him, claiming that he was throwing stones. After being hit with rifle
butt, Arar lost consciousness, and woke up two hours later at the clinic
in the village. THE RED CROSS complained to the BORDER POLICE, and two
soldiers will be tried for this offense, according to Israel Radio.
Yitzhak Ismail Ghneimat, age 19, left his house
at 11:30 am on 28/3 to pray, in violation of the curfew. Ghneimat and
other villagers were attempting to assemble at the mosque. He was stopped
by a Border Police jeep and driven around the village for two hours, as
two policemen beat him in the back of the jeep. Afterwards, the jeep went
to the school in the center of the village, and threw him on the ground.
Another jeep arrived, and eight border policemen hit him together. After
another two and a half hours he was released, after being threatened, that
if he leaves his house, he will be run over by the police.
Denial of Urgent Medical Care:
Residents were not allowed to leave even to seek
urgent medical treatment. A Jordanian tourist, Khaled Mustafa Arar, aged
61, who was in the village to visit his relatives, DIED after being denied
exit to a hospital. On 14/4, Arar decided to leave the village and return
to Jordan. As he was leaving, he encountered a disturbance and fell
unconscious from inhalation of tear gas. (There was a disturbance going on
at the time.) Residents gathered around him to provide first aid, and the
soldiers fired more tear gas at the gathered people, with the unconscious
Arar in the center. Residents tried to evacuate him through the Beit Ummar
checkpoint, but soldiers refused to let him pass. The delay lasted for
nearly two hours. After a lengthy argument, the residents forced their way
out. Arar died on the way to the hospital. Gas inhalation caused his heart
attack, although Arar might have been saved if his evacuation was not
delayed for so long.
A pregnant women approached the authorities two
days in a row, begging for permission to leave the village and give birth
in a hospital. On 10/4, Ifrikiya Ahmed Irnimat age 18, called for an
ambulance since she was in labor. The village midwife examined her and
determined that she should be taken to the hospital, but the hospital
explained that the soldiers were preventing ambulences from entering the
village. On 11/4 around 8:00 am, Irnimat tried to leave the village, but
the police turned her back. Again in the afternoon she tried to leave the
village, and this time she succeeded. But after giving birth in the
hospital, the baby was born dead.
Complaints of Unnecessary
Brutality and Violence:
The entry of the soldiers to the village was
accompanied by BRUTAL and UNNECESSARY violence and destruction of
property. At least sixty homes were entered, and property was destroyed.
Hazem Ghneimat age 31, was arrested on 10/4 at 7 am. Border Policemen
damaged kitchenware in his house, during the search and arrest. Another
home had spilled paint on the floor, after police knocked over a container
This violence included the destruction of water
cisterns on the roofs of houses, shot by soldiers during disturbances in
the village. Dozens of windows were shattered, and the residents report
that at night, Border Police shouted insults at the residents through very
loud loudspeakers mounted on jeeps, and that shock grenades (non-lethal)
were detonated in narrow streets and alleys, for the purpose of disturbing
45 villagers were arrested in the beginning of
the curfew, and remained in detention after the members of the 'Sourif
Cell' were captured. 12 remain in administrative detention, without being
charged of any crime or link to the 'Sourif Cell.' The administrative
detention orders are for 2-6 months.
Denial of Education to the
Children of Sourif:
During the time of the imposition of the curfew,
the children of Sourif were unable to attend school, losing four weeks of
education. At the same time, sixty teachers employed by Sourif schools,
but living outside the village, were unemployed as a result of the curfew.
72 teachers living in Sourif and employed in other villages were unable to
leave to tend to their classrooms, thus denying hundreds of children
outside Sourif of their teachers.
Residents Angry at Imposition
of Collective Punishment, After All Suspects Captured:
The residents of Sourif are upset at the Israeli
collective punishment. During the Intifada, the villagers suffered similar
measures - but largely as a result of participation in the mass uprising.
This time, the suspects wanted by Israel and the Palestinian Authority
were apprehended, and the measures taken against the rest of the village
constitute illegal violations of human rights..
The success of the authorities in arresting those
linked to illegal activities was a result of cooperation between the
Palestinian Authority and the Israeli security forces. The PHRMG has a
problem with such security cooperation, ostensibly aimed at protecting the
law, being used to violate human rights and international law. The
destruction of houses, use of violence, extended curfew, denial of medial
treatment, denial of education, and administrative detentions are all
violations of human rights and international law. We call on the
Palestinian Authority to condition their cooperation with Israel, on the
assurance that human rights will be respected, and that information
provided will not be used to violate human rights and impose collective
Israel must understand, that in the context of
the ongoing political process, in which the Palestinians are partners in
fighting terrorism, that the imposition of collective punishment only
creates more distrust and hard feelings. Israel must cease her arrogant
treatment of Palestinians, and recognize that they are not the 'collective
enemy' that must be collectively punished.
We call on the international community to serve
notice to Israel that human rights violations are not justified by the
need to fight terror - especially not when that fight is being assisted in
dramatic ways by the Palestinian Authority.
the need to fight terror - especially not when
that fight is being assisted in dramatic ways by the Palestinian