On 9 January 2018, Palestinians fatally shot Israeli Rabbi Raziel Shevach in a drive-by shooting near his home in the settlement outpost of Havat Gilad in the West Bank. The shooters fled the scene. In the month that followed, Israeli security forces mounted a search for the suspects, including Ahmad Nasser Jarar from Jenin. As part of the search, the forces entered at least five homes of the extended Jarar family in Jenin, in the town of Birqin and in the village of al-Kafir in Jenin District.
An investigation carried out by B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi in the Jenin area revealed that on 17 January 2018, Israeli security forces entered the neighborhood of Wadi Burqin in Jenin in search of suspects. The forces encountered armed Palestinians and in the gun battle that ensued, a Palestinian man was killed. Police say he was one of the shooters. The forces also demolished four homes, in one case beginning the demolition while the family was still inside, without giving them prior warning. In early February, apparently as part of the search for Ahmad Nasser Jarar, Israeli security forces came on two separate occasions to other homes of the extended Jarar family, in the town of Birqin and in the village of al-Kafir. The forces set dogs on three people and subjected three women to degrading strip searches. In all cases, the forces entered the homes in the middle of the night or in the early hours of the morning, while the families were asleep. In some of the cases, the soldiers ordered the inhabitants to step outside into the cold night air; in others, they ordered residents from several houses to gather in one house.
On 6 February 2018, Israeli forces killed Ahmad Nasser Jarar (26) and demolished the room in which he had taken cover in the village of al-Yamun.
In testimonies given to B’Tselem, members of the Palestinian families whose homes were invaded by soldiers and dogs in the middle of the night described destruction, degradation, trauma and injury. These accounts indicate wanton, unchecked violence by the Israeli forces, and utter disregard for the dignity, bodily integrity and lives of the Palestinians whose homes they entered, including young children. The troops involved in these incidents – including the commanders who gave the orders – are well aware of their complete impunity, as well as of the fact that the residents facing them are defenseless, even inside their own homes – and exploited this to the full.
The findings of B’Tselem’s investigation follow. All testimonies given to B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi.
18 January 2018, Jenin: Israeli forces kill Ahmad Isma’il Jarar and demolish four homes
On the night of 17 January 2018, at around 10:00 P.M., Special Police Unit forces entered the neighborhood of Wadi Burqin in west Jenin together with soldiers and ISA (Israel Security Agency) agents. The forces surrounded several homes of the extended Jarar family and exchanged fire with armed Palestinians who were near one of the houses. One person was killed in the gun battle: Ahmad Isma’il Jarar (30) – the cousin of Ahmad Nasser Jarar – who was, according to the police, one of the shooters. The police also stated that two Special Police Unit officers were injured in the exchange – one moderately and one sustained minor wounds. In clashes that later developed there, the forces injured two residents with live fire, one of whom was seriously injured..
During the exchange of fire, which lasted several hours, the forces called on residents to come out of their homes, but some residents did not understand the order was addressed to them. At around 1:00 A.M., Isma’il Jarar (65), the father of Ahmad Isma’il Jarar who had been killed earlier that evening, opened his front door after he heard soldiers shouting outside. He saw soldiers standing there, pointing their guns at him. The soldiers ordered the family to come outside. Ismai’l, his wife Inshirah (50), four of his children and two of his granddaughters (ages 8 and 9) came out of the house and the soldiers ordered them to sit in the yard.
The soldiers took Isma’il’s son Muhammad (33) for questioning, which lasted about an hour, and then returned him. The soldiers then loaded the entire family onto military vehicles and drove them some 150 meters to the home of a relative, Rida Jarar.
In Rida Jarar’s house were other relatives who live nearby and had been sent there by soldiers: Khitam Jarar (47), the widowed mother of suspect Ahmad Nasser Jarar, and her three other children. The soldiers handcuffed all the men, except Isma’il Jarar, and assembled them on the first floor. They assembled the women on the second floor, and some soldiers went up onto the roof.
At approximately 3:00 A.M., the forces began demolishing the homes of Isma’il Jarar and Khitam Jarar, and also the home of ‘Ali and Nassim Jarar with the inhabitants still inside. ‘Ali and Nassim Jarar and their four children, aged 7 to 20, were at home. When they heard shooting and other noises outside, the family gathered in the bedroom of the youngest daughter, which is the farthest from the entrance to the house, and were in the room when the demolition began.
In a testimony she gave on 24 January 2018, Nassim Jarar related:
Shortly after 3:00 A.M. we heard cars and a bulldozer approaching our house. The bulldozer started demolishing the western side of the house. My husband, children and I started screaming because we were scared the house would collapse on top of us. We felt the ground shake and heard parts of the house come crashing down. We went into the kitchen and stood there, confused and scared. Our kids were so frightened they were in tears. The sounds of the demolition grew louder.
We decided to chance it and leave through the eastern side of the house to go to my brother-in-law Walid Jarar, whose house is about 20-25 meters away. We knew we’d die and be buried in the wreckage if we stayed inside, but we were also afraid the soldiers would shoot us the moment we stepped outside. I asked my husband and children to pray before we left and recite the verse “There is no god but Allah”. I left in my pajamas, without even putting on my head scarf.
There were soldiers in Walid’s yard and they shone the laser sights on their guns at us, lighting up our faces. My husband asked them, “Why are you demolishing my house?”. One of the soldiers answered: “Quiet, be quiet”. I asked the soldiers if we could go into Walid’s house and they said we could. Walid was at home, and there were soldiers on the roof. We stayed there until morning.
It was a long, depressing night, in which I lost the entire contents of my home, my memories and our family’s personal items. Our home was reduced to a pile of rubble and now the family has dispersed between the homes of various relatives, until we find an apartment to live in. My husband and children and I left our home in our pajamas, and all our money and belongings are now buried in the debris. My daughter Khadijah, who is seven, keeps asking me about her stuffy, Little Bear, which is also stuck in the wreckage. My son Mustafa, who is eleven, keeps asking about his bike and his books. I don’t know what to tell them.
The military demolished the three houses – one of which contained two apartments – with bulldozers and fired a missile at one of them. This left sixteen people, including three minors, homeless.
3 and 8 February 2018, the town of Birqin: Forces strip search residents and set dogs on them
On the morning of 3 February 2018, at approximately 6:00 A.M., dozens of soldiers came to the town of Birqin, Jenin District. The troops surrounded the house of Mabruk (40) and Inas (37) Jarar. The couple woke up from a loud bang – apparently when the forces blew up the front door to their building – and the sound of stun grenades. They quickly brought Mabruk’s two children from his first wife, one aged three and other nine, who live with them, into their bed. Several minutes later, the force blew up the door to the second floor, where they live.
A dog then came into their bedroom, sank his teeth into Jarar’s left shoulder and knocked him to the ground. Inas tried unsuccessfully to pry him from the dog’s grip. The children hid behind the bed, screaming and crying.
Inas Jarar described what happened next in a testimony she gave B’Tselem on 4 February 2018:
I ran to the door to cry for help, and then I saw soldiers standing on the stairs leading to our apartment. They shouted at me in Arabic to get everyone out of the house. One of them told me to get Ahmad Jarar, who is a wanted man, out of the house, but I don’t even know him. I told them there was no one else at home but my husband and the two young children.
I begged them to save my husband from the dog, but they just stood there and did nothing. I told the soldier that no one was leaving the house and that he could shoot me if he wanted to. Those were terrifying moments for me. I went quickly back to the bedroom. The dog still had its teeth sunk in my husband’s shoulder and the children were hiding behind the bed. I tried to pull my husband away again, and managed to drag him to the entrance, where the soldiers were standing. The dog didn’t let go. I shouted to the soldiers again to call off the dog, but one of them just said: “Get us Ahmad Jarar and then we’ll help you and release your husband from the dog.” Several soldiers and the dog dragged my husband down 19 stairs to the first floor.
At that point, the children wet themselves. They were so scared, they couldn’t stand up. The soldiers ordered me to go down to the yard and get the children. I put their shoes on so they wouldn’t get glass shards in their feet. The soldiers made us sit on the ground, which was wet from rain. While we were waiting outside, I heard an explosion inside our apartment. I assume the soldiers threw stun grenades into the apartment before they went in to search it. There were a lot of soldiers there, some of them masked.
We sat on the ground for about half an hour. Then the soldiers brought my husband out of the apartment on the first floor. The dog wasn’t gripping him anymore, but his hands were tied behind his back, even though he was injured. His face was covered in blood and his clothes were torn.
Mabruk Jarar recounted what he underwent after the soldiers and the dog dragged him downstairs, in a testimony he gave B’Tselem on 14 February 2018:
At the foot of the stairs, a soldier released me from the grip of the dog’s jaw, after he cut my shirt with scissors. He got the dog away from me. Then another soldier came up and punched me in the nose twice. It hurt terribly and I started bleeding a lot. I estimate the dog had its teeth in me for about fifteen minutes. One of the soldiers asked me, “Where is Ahmad Jarar?” and I said I had no idea.
The soldiers put me in a room on the first floor. All that time, I was bleeding from my left arm and from my nose. Then a high-ranking officer came in. I think he was surprised when he saw what the dog had done to me. He took a photo of my arm on his mobile phone and ordered the soldiers, who had handcuffed my hands behind my back, to untie me. He talked to the soldiers in Hebrew, which I understand a little.
After about five minutes, the soldiers tied my hands behind my back again and led me out of the house. Outside, I saw my little boys, Suheib and Mahmoud, sitting on the ground even though it was wet because of rain that night. The soldiers told my wife to get my mobile phone, and then they put me in a military jeep and took me to Salem camp, blindfolded. When we got there, I was told that they were going to send me to hospital and the soldiers removed my blindfold. While I waited there, some of the soldiers took photos of me on their phones and also took selfies, laughing.
Only some two and a half hours later, did the soldiers transfer Mabruk Jarar to hospital. He was taken to a hospital in the city of Afula, Israel. There, he was shackled to the bed by his legs and two soldiers stood guard at the door. The next day, at around midday, two people in civilian clothes came to the room and questioned him about his ties with Nasser Jarar, who was killed in 2002 – the father of Ahmad Nasser Jarar, the suspected shooter of Rabbi Shevach. After about half an hour, the two left the hospital. About a week later, on 11 February, Jarar was untied and informed that he was being released without any charges. On 13 February, Jarar was transferred to Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus for further treatment.
On 8 February 2018, while Mabruk Jarar was in hospital in Afula, some twenty soldiers came to his house at approximately 3:00 A.M. His wife, Inas, was at home with his mother, Huriyyah (75), and his sister Dalal (50), who is mute and suffers from Down syndrome. The two women had come to keep Inas company since Mabruk’s arrest.
In a testimony she gave B’Tselem on 8 February 2018, Inas Jarar related:
The female soldier ordered me to take off all my clothes. I did as she said. I thought she wanted to search me with a metal detector. To my surprise, she insisted that I remove my underwear, too. I did as she said and she searched the clothes I had taken off. I stood there stark naked, and she ordered me to turn around. I felt broken and humiliated. I wished I could die, so I wouldn’t have to experience another second of this. Then she ordered me to kneel. I stayed like that for two or three minutes. They were the longest minutes in my life. Then she told me I could put my clothes back on. I think that soldier has no moral or human feeling.
After the soldier finished the search, the soldiers stayed in the house for another whole hour. During that time, they questioned me about my husband. They asked me if I wanted to visit him and also inquired about his finances. What they did to me was a crime. They humiliated me and hurt my dignity and the dignity of my family.
Huriyyah Jarar described what she underwent in a testimony she gave B’Tselem on 13 February 2018:
The female soldier led my son’s wife Inas into her bedroom. I stayed with my daughter Dalal in the room facing the kitchen. It’s hard for me to move. I sat on the bed and my daughter sat on her mattress near me. The soldier closed the door after Inas went into her bedroom, and I couldn’t see what was going on there.
About five minutes later, Inas and the soldier came out of the bedroom and came into our room. The soldier said she wanted to search us. I started crying and said: “What do you want from me? I can hardly move and I’m an old woman. Shame on you.” I sat on the bed and Inas and the soldier helped me undress. I felt helpless and so sad about what the soldier did to me. She examined my clothes while I was naked and then she and Inas helped me take my pants down until I was completely exposed. The soldier looked at my private parts. I cried the whole time. How could a young soldier force an old woman like me to take off all my clothes in front of her and expose myself like that? I never imagined anything like this was possible.
Then the soldier ordered Inas to help her take Dalal’s clothes off. Inas did as she was told and the soldier inspected Dalal naked as well. I couldn’t stop crying. How did we end up being undressed by a soldier, inside our own house, and exposing our most private parts?
3 February 2018, the village of al-Kfir: Soldiers set dog on family
On 3 February 2018, at about 4:00 A.M., soldiers came to the home of Nur a-Din ‘Awad (48), his wife Samaher (42) and their four children. The family lives on the first floor of a two-story house in the village of al-Kafir, Jenin District. The soldiers broke down the front door and Samaher awoke from the noise to find a dog in her bedroom. She screamed, and Nur a-Din awoke. He leapt from the bed to chase the dog out of the room. The dog bit Nur a-Din in his right arm, while soldiers standing in the entrance to the bedroom stood by, doing nothing. The soldiers then removed the dog from the room.
Samaher asked the soldiers to step out of the room. She dressed quickly and went to the living room. The soldiers ordered the family to stay inside the house and left. A few minutes later, the family heard knocking at the back door.
Samaher ‘Awad described what happened next in a testimony she gave B’Tselem on 4 February 2018:
I was holding Karam, my two-year-old son, who was crying against my breast. I opened the back door the soldiers had knocked on and a dog jumped at me, landing on my chest. I dropped Karam. Later I noticed that my husband had picked him up. The dog bit me in the chest and I struggled to get him off me. I managed, but then he bit my left thigh. I tried as hard as I could to get him off. The soldiers stood there watching and did nothing. The whole time, my husband was begging them to call off the dog. One of the soldiers said something in Hebrew to the dog and then it grabbed my left arm for a few minutes, until another soldier came and took him. My arm was bleeding and it hurt a lot.
The soldiers and dog left the house. They stood facing the entrance. My husband asked them to treat my arm, but they ignored him. I was bleeding and in pain, but the soldiers didn’t care. I bandaged my arm with a piece of cloth to stop the bleeding
About an hour later, at about 5:00 A.M., soldiers came to the house of Halimah Jarar (62), a widowed mother of six, who lives about 150 meters from the ‘Awads’ house. Halimah lives at home with two of her children – her daughter Sabaa (42) and her son Al-Qa’qa’ (48), who is married and has four children. The soldiers called out to Halimah and her family to come out of the house and ordered them to go to the house of their next-door neighbors, Nur a-Din and Samaher, where they assembled all the women on the first floor and the men on the second floor. Then the soldiers questioned Halimah’s two sons – Al-Qa’qa’ and Dib, who lives with his family in another house in the neighborhood.
In a testimony she gave B’Tselem on 4 February 2018, Halimah Jarar recounted:
When I entered Nur a-Din ‘Awad’s house, I saw Samaher with her left arm bandaged and bleeding. You could see she was in a lot of pain. Her little boy, Karam, was scared and he was crying and holding on to her. I couldn’t bear the sight. I went outside and asked the soldiers who were opposite the house to give her first aid. A soldier agreed, got a first aid kit and went into the room with me. He cleaned the deep wounds and the bite marks from the dog, and bandaged Samaher’s arm. She called her brother, who called for an ambulance. When the ambulance arrived, the soldiers wouldn’t let it through. Samaher kept bleeding.
The soldiers held us until 9:00 A.M. They brought all the neighbors from the area into Samaher’s house, including my son Dib (50), who lives about 500 meters from me. In total, we were about fifteen people in the house, all neighbors and relatives.
When the operation was over, the soldiers arrested brothers Dib and Al-Qa’qa’ Jarar. They were released several days later: Dib on 6 February and Al-Qa’qa’ on 7 February..