Border Police pursue and assault women and girls watching clashes in village of Sa’ir
On 20 January 2017, at around 2:00 P.M., local boys and teens clashed with Israeli security forces in the village of Sa’ir, which lies northeast of Hebron. A group of boys and teens threw rocks at the security forces, who fired rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters at them, and threw stun grenades.
Seven women and girls from the extended Jaradat family stood outside one of the family’s homes watching the clashes. Four Border Police jeeps arrived on the scene and the policemen who got out began pursuing the youths as they fled. The Jaradat girls also fled. A videographer who came on the scene captured the end of the incident on video. The clip shows a masked Border Police officer gripping 13-year-old Khadijeh Jaradat by the arm, while a Border Police commanding officer pushed away her mother, who was trying to help her. After the officer let go of Khadijeh, he was caught on video assaulting her cousin, 20-year-old Duha Badawi, beating her on the head.
B’Tselem’s inquiries indicate that Siraj Jaradat, 28, fled with her 10-year-old cousin Samar to the latter’s home. Three of Samar’s sisters were home at that time: Hiba, 18, Shirin, 17 and Kifah, 11. The two closed the front yard’s iron gate behind them, went inside, and then heard loud banging at the front door. Siraj and Hiba said that the police pounded on the door and kicked it until they broke the lock, and then came inside. The women and girls, who were frightened by the officers, screamed and held on to each other. One of the officers approached Siraj, grabbed her by the shoulder, and pulled her out of the house. Siraj, who was screaming and crying, told the officer she had done nothing.
When she spoke with B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bri on 21 January 2017, Siraj Jaradat recounted what happened next:
My cousins tried to get me out of the officer’s grip. Samar clung to me and screamed and cried, but about five or six officers kept the other girls from coming near me. While the officer took me outside, screaming, Hiba got a plastic water jug and threw it at the officer’s back. He let go of me and went after Hiba. She was scared. She ran into one of the rooms and locked herself in. The officer kicked in the wooden door, and went into the room. He hit Hiba with the butt of his rifle and kicked her. I went back to the rest of the girls, and we tried to get to Hiba, together, but the five officers standing by the door to the room wouldn’t let us in while the officer was assaulting her. The officer left the room, and Hiba followed him, swearing at him. She closed the door again, but the officer came back and pushed the door. Hiba was pushing the door from the inside and the officer was pushing it from the outside.
Hiba Jaradat described what happened in the room after the officer came inside:
The officer broke the wooden door and came into the room where I was hiding, behind an old wooden closet. He hit me twice on the back with the butt of his rifle, and kicked me a few times. Some of the blows hit the closet and it broke in several places. When the officer left the room, I couldn’t help myself. I was so mad he’d assaulted me that I swore at him. Suddenly, I saw him coming back. I closed the broken door right away, stood behind it and pushed it from the inside, as he was pushing it from the outside. He managed to open the door, grabbed me by both arms, and pulled me. My father arrived, so I clung to him and he protected me. The officer pulled out some pepper spray and aimed it at me, but my father shoved him and the pepper spray, and yelled at him. My father asked him why he was assaulting us, and told him that we were girls, and how could all these armed police officers be assaulting women and children.
At that point, the officer left me alone and went out with the rest of the officers. My cousins and I followed them. We saw a masked officer assaulting Khadijeh, strangling her with his arm. A Border Police commanding officer was standing next to him. My father went there to try to rescue her.
From left to right: Siraj (28), Amal (17), Samar (10), Shirin (17), Kifah (11), Khadijeh (13). Photo by Manal al-Ja’bri, B'Tselem, 21 Jan. 2017
Khadijeh Jaradat, 13, fled with three of her female relatives who had been watching the clashes to her uncle Jamil’s house. Her cousin Duha, who had been hanging laundry nearby, fled with them. The girls shut the door behind them, but when they heard a stun grenade going off outside the door, they opened it, and told the officers there were only girls at home. Outside the house, officers were firing tear gas at boys and teens who were fleeing. The police officers standing at the entrance to the house told the girls to go back inside and close the door.
When she spoke with B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja’bri on 21 January 2017, Khadijeh Jaradat related what happened next:
Before I managed to get into the house, I saw a masked policeman running toward us. He was angry, and shouting in Arabic: “This one’s a spy”! I got scared, and quickly went inside. He came after me and grabbed me by the shoulder. He said: “You’re a spy”, and started dragging me outside. I started screaming and crying, and my cousins tried to get me out of his grip. They were also screaming and crying, but he kept dragging me violently, with his arm around my neck. He dragged me about thirty meters away from the house to where there was a Border Police jeep. He twisted my arms behind my back, put his arms around my neck, making it hard for me to breathe, and pushed me against the wall. My mother and my cousins Duha and Siraj tried to get me away from the policemen, but a Border Police commanding officer kept them away. My father arrived and tried to convince the officers that we’re girls and couldn’t have possibly been throwing stones. Two photographers arrived and started filming what was going on. I got away from the officer, and then he assaulted Duha, hitting her on the head.
After Ibrahim Jaradat, Khadijeh’s and Hiba’s father, intervened and got the girls and his wife away, and after the Border Police commanding officer kept the officer from hitting Duha again, the officers left the village without making any arrests. In the testimony she gave on 21 January 2017, Hiba said she still had pain in her back, and other parts of her body, as a result of the officer’s assault.
The violence of the Border Police officers, who detained, assaulted and hit women and girls, the youngest of whom was 13, is yet another in a long list of incidents documented by B’Tselem over the years, in which security forces used violence against Palestinian children and youths. The recurrence of this conduct, and the lack of accountability indicates it is tacitly condoned by the most senior officials of Israel’s security establishment.