Hafez Huraini, 52, attacked then arrested (Twitter)
While he was working on his land, a group of Israeli settlers armed with sticks, metal pipes, and M16s attacked Hafez Huraini and his son Muhammad. Hafez was badly injured, and both of his arms were broken. When a Palestinian ambulance arrived to evacuate him, the settlers slashed the tires, but the Israeli soldiers arrested Huraini, claiming he had hurt one of the settlers.
by Yumna Patel, reposted from Mondoweiss, September 13, 2022
Hafez Huraini, 52, was working on his family’s land with his son Muhammad on the outskirts of their village of at-Tuwani in Masafer Yatta, in the southern occupied West Bank, when a group of armed Israeli settlers from the nearby Havat Ma’on outpost attacked them.
“Five settlers attacked them, some had guns, at least one of them had an M16 rifle, and the others were carrying metal pipes. One of the settlers started hitting them with the metal pipe, breaking my dad’s left arm,” Sami Huraini, 24, Hafez’s son, recounted to Mondoweiss.
“My dad fell to the ground, and they kept beating him, until they broke his right arm too,” Sami said. “Then the settler with the gun started firing live bullets in the air.”
5 settlers attacked my father yesterday with sticks and guns they shot over him . We call the army and the police but they arrested my father and let the settlers free even they are the attackers #myfatherunderarrest pic.twitter.com/APynnhGBLT
— mohammad hureini (@hireini) September 13, 2022
Sami, along with his neighbors, rushed to the scene, just a few hundred meters from his home, up a rugged hilltop. When they arrived and confronted the settlers, some retreated, while the armed settlers stayed.
Then came the army.
“Dozens of soldiers arrived at the scene after the settlers called them. My dad was lying on the ground, both his arms were broken, but the soldiers started hitting us and pushing us back while the settlers stood behind them,” Sami recounted.
Sami said the settlers were “giving orders” to the soldiers, telling them to arrest his father and other residents of at-Tuwani at the scene.
As the Israeli soldiers continued to push around the Palestinians, an ambulance from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society arrived at the scene.
“The EMTs started treating my dad and giving him first aid. The whole time they were doing this the soldiers and settlers were pushing and shoving us,” Sami said.
“When we picked my dad up on the stretcher and tried to put him on the ambulance, the soldiers started pushing us back, and saying they wanted to arrest him, because the settlers said he hit them,” he continued.
According to Sami, Israeli soldiers and settlers blocked the doors of the ambulance to prevent medics from loading Hafez into the vehicle.
“They kept hitting us. We managed to finally get him inside the ambulance, but then the settlers pulled out a knife and stabbed the tires of the ambulance so it couldn’t move,” Sami said.
“The soldiers kept hitting us, and the settlers started destroying the trees on our land. Then the soldiers started firing tear gas and sound bombs at us and towards the houses in Tuwani,” Sami said.
Even after a second ambulance from the PRCS arrived, Israeli soldiers refused to release Hafez for medical attention. According to Sami, the soldiers detained his father before evacuating him in an Israeli ambulance.
Israeli soldiers took Hafez to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba in southern Israel, where he was treated for two broken arms. According to Sami, Hafez was accompanied by armed soldiers the entire time, and was prevented from receiving visitors or from speaking to his lawyer.
After he was fitted with casts for his broken arms, Hafez was arrested.
Late into the night on Monday, the Huraini family learned through their lawyer that their father had been taken to a detention center inside the Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron, where he was to undergo interrogation.
The family’s lawyer was allowed to speak to Hafez for a few minutes before he was taken in for questioning, though the lawyer was not allowed to be present during the interrogation.
According to Sami, the army is accusing his father of attacking a settler – a crime that could carry a sentence of several years in prison if he’s officially charged and convicted.
Sami told Mondoweiss that during the attack on Hafez and Mohammed, as settlers beat them with metal pipes, Hafez attempted to defend himself against the settlers.
Haaretz reported that an Israeli settler sustained “serious head injuries” on Monday evening in what they described as “a brawl with a Palestinian” near the Havat Maon outpost.
Haaretz quoted an Israeli security official as saying that “a group of Palestinians approached the outpost, prompting two Israelis from the farm outpost to confront them. One of the Palestinians then attacked one of the Israelis, the source said, and the other Israeli fired in the air. Israeli troops then arrived at the scene to separate the two sides.”
Haaretz also reported that the Palestinian “suspect” was “lightly injured” in the confrontation. They made no mention of the fact that both of Hafez’s arms were broken by the settlers during the attack.
Sami said the accusations against his father were “untrue,” emphasizing that it was the settlers who instigated the attack on Hafez, and that Hafez posed no threat to the settlers when they launched their attack.
“How could a man whose two arms are broken beat someone back?!” Sami said indignantly.
“They [settlers] were the ones who attacked my dad and beat him. They broke both of his arms. But my dad was the one who was arrested.” Sami continued. “They’re the ones who tried to kill him!”
“This is a clear representation of the Apartheid system that we live under,” Sami said.
Sami said that the residents of at-Tuwani have long come under attacks from Israeli settlers, who are rarely ever arrested or held accountable for their crimes.
“We know from our experience that the settlers hold the power. They can turn their attacks around on us, and the army will arrest and imprison him [Hafez] for anything, on bogus charges based on settlers’ false testimonies,” he said.
Mondoweiss reached out to the army for a comment on Hafez’s detention, and whether the settlers who attacked him were also being investigated. The army spokesperson had not responded to our request at the time of publication.
Human rights groups, like the Israeli group B’Tselem, report that the army frequently colludes with settlers in their attacks on Palestinians. “Instead of taking preventive action, the Israeli authorities aid and abet the settlers in harming Palestinians and using their land,” the group said.
According to B’Tselem, since 2020, the group has documented 757 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians and their property.
In the rare case that an investigation is opened into settler violence against Palestinians, Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group that documents incidents of settler violence in the West Bank, says the vast majority of those investigations are closed.
The group says that 92% of investigations into ideological crimes against Palestinians are closed with no indictment filed.
‘It was like a war zone’
Around the same time that Hafez Huraini was detained and evacuated in an ambulance, Israeli forces arrested two other Palestinains from Masafer Yatta who are still in custody.
Shortly after, dozens more Israeli troops raided the village of at-Tuwani, and began a massive detention operation that would last for hours into the early morning.
They're shooting inside our homes. Scared for my life. Happening now in Masafer Yatta. pic.twitter.com/aXJYp5dURK
— #SaveMasaferYatta (@basel_adra) September 12, 2022
“They closed down all entrances and exits to the village, and began raiding homes, and firing tear gas and sound bombs into people’s homes and cars,” Sami told Mondoweiss.
“They arrested dozens of young men from their homes and interrogated them at a makeshift military site set up near the entrance of the village. They just kept arresting people, interrogating them for a few hours, and then sending them back to their homes,” Sami said.
“They beat people inside their homes, and fired tear gas and sound bombs into our houses and cars. It was a war zone,” he said.
Sami told Mondoweiss that the residents of at-Tuwani are accustomed to nightly raids by Israeli soldiers, and attacks by settlers from the nearby settlements and outposts. But he said the events of Monday night were “unreal.”
“This is all part of their ethnic cleansing plans, and their efforts to scare us, intimidate us, and coerce us out of our homes,” Sami said, referring to Israeli plans to force over 1,000 Palestinians in Masafer Yatta out of their homes to make way for an Israeli firing zone.
“The settlers can live happily while they attack us, and while the soldiers attack us. They want to threaten us, and scare us so we stop resisting their plans,” Sami said. “But our willpower is strong.”
As of Tuesday night local time, Israeli forces were raiding at-Tuwani for the second night in a row, firing tear gas and sound bombs at peoples homes.
FURTHER READING ON ISRAELI SETTLER AND MILITARY VIOLENCE AGAINST PALESTINIANS:
- More Israeli settler violence: Palestinians brutally attacked, then interrogated by police
- Israeli soldiers, settlers kill two Palestinians, injure two others
- 450 incidents of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians in two years: B’Tselem
- Shackled, Beaten, Strung Up on a Tree: Palestinian Teen Brutally Attacked by Settlers
- Israeli Settlers and Soldiers Wound 105 Palestinian Civilians in Jerusalem
- A Palestinian photographs a trespassing Israeli settler, gets his skull fractured