At around 4:30 P.M. on Tuesday, 24 July 2018, a force of about ten masked soldiers, accompanied by assault dogs, raided two homes in the Wadi Ma’ali neighborhood of Bethlehem. The soldiers forced open the doors to the homes and set the dogs on two members of the families.
First, the soldiers raided the home of Manal (48) and Jamal (53) al-Harimi (‘Ayad), and their seven children. The three oldest sons, aged 23-25, are held in administrative detention, while the other four children (aged nine to 17) live at home. Jamal works as a taxi driver and was not at home that evening. When the soldiers came, Manal was in one of the rooms, preparing for the dawn prayers. Her 14-year-old daughter Nurhan was in the living room, keeping an eye on the front door because of the constant fear of military raids. When the soldiers forced open the front door to the home and entered with the assault dog, Nurhan ran to her mother. The dog chased her and attacked Manal, biting her hand and not letting go. Around ten minutes passed before one of the soldiers moved the dog away from her. The soldiers then forced open the back door to the home, although the family had given them the keys, and left without asking any of the family members anything.
The soldiers then continued to the neighboring home of Ousamah al-Harimi (‘Ayad) (47), Jamal’s brother, a construction worker, and his wife Iman (38), and their six children aged six to 19. Some of the children had already woken up due the noise and shouting from the home next door. The soldiers knocked on the door and after a few seconds forced their way into the home. The dog immediately leapt on Ousamah, knocking him to the ground. Ousamah shouted and asked the soldiers to remove the dog, but they ignored him. The officer approached him, and without offering any help began to question him in Arabic about his older sons. Ousamah mentioned his son Muhannad, 19, who was in the room, and the officer began to question him. The soldiers led Muhannad into another room in the house, threatening his mother at gunpoint not to accompany him. The three girls were detained in another room, while the dog remained close to the father. After about 15 minutes, the soldiers left, taking Muhannad with them. He has been detained since the raid.
Brutal nighttime raids by the military on the homes of residents of the West Bank have long since become part of the routine imposed by the occupation regime. In this case, the soldiers were accompanied by a dog that attacked some of the occupants of the homes and terrorized the others, particularly the young children. The soldiers showed total disregard for this. This behavior is not the product of spur-of-the-moment decisions by the soldiers or by their commanders in the field: it is part of the standing policy of the military in the West Bank.
Members of the families described the raids on their homes in testimonies taken by B'Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash:
The raid on the home of Manal and Jamal al-Harimi (‘Ayad)
In a testimony given to B’Tselem on 2 August 2018, Manal al-Harimi (‘Ayad) stated:
On 24 July 2018, at about 4:30 A.M., me and my daughter Nurhan, 14, were preparing for the dawn prayers. I asked Nurhan to keep an eye on the entrance to the home until I finished praying, because my husband was at work, and soldiers have forced their way through the door several times in the past, when they arrested my three oldest sons. Just as I was beginning my prayers, I heard Nurhan shouting. Then she ran toward me and I saw a huge dog chasing her. The dog left her and attacked me. I tried to push it away and put my hand over my face to protect it. Suddenly, the dog bit me on my right hand through its muzzle. I started screaming, and the dog continued to attack me. Suddenly, I realized that I couldn’t see my youngest son Yusef, 11, who had been asleep on the sofa beside me. I thought that he might have run away, and I started to call out his name. I was so scared that I thought I was going to faint. I saw Nurhan hitting a soldier with a box of tissues and shouting at him to move the dog away from me. My daughter Manar, 17, was also shouting at the soldiers to get the dog off me. There were more than ten soldiers in the house, but none of them said a word to us. They tried to subdue my three daughters, who tried to come to me to get the dog away and were shouting all the time. After about ten minutes, the soldiers moved the dog away. My finger was bleeding, and the soldiers saw it but didn’t do anything.
I saw the soldiers moving toward the back door. Manar gave them the keys but they threw them on the ground. They forced the door open with some tool tool and left. I tried to calm down a bit. I couldn’t believe what had happened. I tried to remember all the details. After I calmed down, my brother-in-law ‘Imad drove me to the hospital in Beit Jala. The doctors cleaned the wound and bandaged my finger and hand. In the morning, I went to the health office to get some antibiotics for the dog bite. They told me that the military dogs were vaccinated against rabies so I didn’t have to take medicine. I can’t forget what happened. It was scary. This wasn’t the first time that the soldiers had raided our home with a dog, but it was different this time – harsher. Since the raid, my little girl Narmin has insisted on sleeping with me and holds my hand all the time. My little boy Yusef also refuses to go to sleep at night – he only sleeps during the day.
Nurhan al-Harimi (‘Ayad) stated in a testimony taken by B'Tselem on 2 August 2018:
I was in shock by what happened. My mom’s hand was hurting because of the dog bite. The soldiers didn’t ask us anything – I don’t know why they came into our home. We’re used to the army raiding our home, but this time it was weird and scary. The dog that attacked my mom was massive and frightening. It was a really frightening time for me and for my sister Narmin and my brother Yusef, particularly because my dad, who is a taxi driver, wasn’t home that night.
The raid on the home of Iman and Ousamah al-Harimi (‘Ayad)
In a testimony given to B'Tselem on 2 August 2018, Iman al-Harimi (‘Ayad) stated:
On 24 July 2018, at about 4:30 A.M., my eldest son Muhannad, 19, woke up and told me that there were people around the house. I heard noises from outside as if someone was forcing open the door to the home of my brother-in-law Jamal ‘Ayad, who lives next door. There was shouting. I realized that the army was near the house.
Ten minutes later, I heard loud banging on the door. My husband Ousamah called out “Who is it?” but no-one answered. A few minutes later, the door was forced open and a massive brown-black dog came in, attacking my husband and knocking him to the ground. Ousamah shouted, “Get it off me! Get it off me!” Around ten masked soldiers came inside after the dog. They didn’t get the dog off my husband and it went on attacking him, while my husband shouted out. I was holding my young son in my arms. An officer approached Ousamah and asked him in Arabic about our sons. My husband began to say their names, but as soon as he mentioned Muhannad, our eldest son, the soldier made do with his answers and turned to Muhannad, asking him his name. The soldiers took him into another room in the house. Muhannad asked them to let him speak to me, but one of the soldiers pushed him with his gun and told him to shut up. I wanted to follow them but one of them pointed his gun at my head from less than a meter away, preventing me from coming closer.
Other soldiers trapped my three girls in their room and prevented them from leaving for several minutes. The soldiers stayed in the house for another 15 minutes or so and then left. After they left, the girls told me that they’d seen them handcuffing Muhannad, blindfolding him, and taking him outside. My husband told me that the soldiers kept on ordering the dog to stay next to him, and it circled around him until they left the house.
After they left, I broke down in tears and became depressed because they had arrested Muhannad and taken him away without letting me say goodbye. He’s at the Russian Compound now. His lawyer told me that they’re still interrogating him. My two young boys were shaking with fear and they still refuse to sleep in their own room.
In a testimony given to B’Tselem on 26 August 2018, Iman’s daughter Maha al-Harimi (‘Ayad) said:
I woke up to the sound of an explosion by the entrance to our home. When I opened my eyes, I saw a soldier in front of me, lighting up the room with a red laser. He really scared me because he was masked. My little sister Maram woke up and shouted out “what do you want?” Then I saw another soldier.
After a few minutes a huge police dog wearing a muzzle came in. Maram and I started to shout. We jumped on the bed and tried to get away from the dog. The soldier took the dog out of the room. Another soldier stayed in the room, closed the door and refused to let us out. I hit the soldier on the hand. Because of our shouts, an officer outside intervened and told the soldier to open the door.
I went out of the room with my sister Malak, 13, and I saw my father sitting with his face to the wall in the corner of the living room. My brother Muhannad was sitting in the middle of the living room. One of the soldiers blindfolded Muhannad and tied his hands behind his back. Then a few of the soldiers led him outside.
It was a scary night for me and my little brother and sister. Muhammad, who’s nine, was affected the worst by the soldiers’ behavior. He’s afraid to sleep by himself and asks me or my sister to sleep in the room with him. Sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night in terror when he hears noises around the house.