Israeli military raids two print shops in Tulkarm, confiscates equipment and papers, and causes much damage
In March 2017 soldiers entered two large print shops in the West Bank city of Tulkarm, alleging that they were providing services to “illegal” organizations. The soldiers seriously damaged equipment during these late night raids, causing the owners heavy financial losses. None of the employees or owners of the print shops were arrested during the raids.
Printing machine at the Ibn Khaldun Print Shop after the search. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B’Tselem, 1 March 2017
The Ibn Khaldun Print Shop
The Ibn Khaldun Print Shop is owned by the Badawi family and is one of the oldest print shops in the West Bank. It was established in downtown Tulkarm in 1966, and in 1995 the family opened another branch in the city, in the a-Shweikeh quarter. The two branches together have some 30 employees and provide services for residents and businesses from across the West Bank, as well as for Israeli companies.
The Ibn Khaldun Print Shop after the search. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B’Tselem, 1 March 2017
On at about 1:10 A.M. on 1 March 2017, ‘Abd a-Rahim Badawi, 74, was awakened by a telephone call from one of his sons informing him that soldiers had gone into the branch in a-Shweikeh. The branch is housed in a three-story building: the first two are used for the print shop, while the top floor is residential, with two apartments where two of Badawi’s sons live with their families. Badawi spoke with B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi and recounted the night’s events:
My wife and I set off in a fright for the print shop, and found that soldiers had blocked all the roads leading to the building. I introduced myself as the owner of the print shop, but by then the soldiers had already broken down the front door and gone inside. I waited outside. While we were waiting, one of the soldiers called me in to open the safe where we keep our documents. I couldn’t remember the code to the safe and they took me back to my car. I kept on waiting there and the soldiers wouldn’t let me go near the building again.
About seventy soldiers took part in the hour-long operation. Some surrounded the neighborhood, while others went into the print shop. After the troops left, the serious damage they wreaked became apparent: They had confiscated four photocopiers and printing machines, 17 hard drives, and six computers, including one containing the files of the company’s archives. They also damaged some of the equipment, two laptops, and several computer monitors. After the owner of the print shop failed to open the safe, the soldiers broke into it and removed invoices, check books, customer receipts, and other papers. The soldiers also put out of commission the cables of 24 security cameras and covered other cameras.
‘Anan Badawi, 48, the print shop’s manager and the owner’s son, told B’Tselem:
After the soldiers left, my father and brothers and I went with into the print shop’s offices, storerooms, and work rooms. We were dumbfounded when we saw that the military had wrecked and confiscated all the hard drives and the company’s archives, which contains information going back more than five years. All the records of our work with our customers is stored in the archives.
A short while later, residents who live near the main downtown branch phoned the print-shop owner and told him that the soldiers had raided it too. ‘Abd a-Rahim Badawi and his sons drove over, and once again found a place in shambles. Equipment, documents and hard drives had been confiscated, and 12 security cameras disabled.
After the search at the Ibn Khaldun Print Shop: a safe that was broken into. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B’Tselem, 1 March 2017
The print-shop owner estimates the total value of the equipment confiscated from both branches at over NIS 440,000 [approx. USD 120,600], apart from the damage to the equipment left on the premises.
‘Abd a-Rahim Badawi turned to the DCO (District Coordination and Liaison Office) to try to find out the reason for the raid with their mediation. Failing to get any replies, he lodged a complaint with the Palestinian police.
The a-Nahdah Print shop
The a-Nahdah Print Shop, owned by the Abu Saleh family, was established in 1953 in downtown Tulkarm. In 1998 they opened another branch in the a-Shweikeh quarter. A total of fifteen employees work in the two branches.
At about 1:30 A.M. on 23 March 2017, 44-year-old Muhannad Abu Saleh, the print-shop owner, was awakened by soldiers knocking at the front door of his home, which is located across from the a-Shweikeh branch of the print shop. The soldiers ordered him to come with them and unlock the print shop. After he did so, the soldiers went inside but would not let him come in with them. The soldiers spent some two hours on the premises. When they left, they handed Abu Saleh a list of the equipment they had confiscated and demanded he sign the paper. As he had not had the chance to go inside and see for himself what had been confiscated, he refused to sign.
Abu Saleh spoke with B’Tselem field researcher Abdulkarim Sadi later that day, and related the night’s events:
Immediately after I opened the door, the soldiers took my identity card and cell phone. I still haven’t gotten them back. They demanded that I come with them and open the print shop. The place has two stories. I unlocked the door to the print-shop’s storerooms and to my office on the second story. After I opened the doors, the soldiers ordered me to move away and stand off on the side. There were about eighty soldiers there. I tried to persuade the officer not to send all of the soldiers in, and told him that I’d go in with a small group of soldiers so that they could conduct a search. But the officer refused and told me to move away. I asked him if they had an official search warrant and he replied that they did not, and that the military was carrying out orders. All the soldiers went inside, apart from a few who were posted as guards around the print shop. They stayed there for about two hours.
After they came out, the soldiers ordered Abu Saleh to accompany them to the downtown branch. Abu Saleh rode there with them, but he did not have the keys to the premises with him. The soldiers broke down the door and went inside. As before, they would not allow Abu Saleh to go in with them. They left after about an hour.
In all, the troops confiscated the following items from Abu Saleh’s print shops: 18 hard drives, which were wrenched out by force from computers and printing equipment; one external hard drive; documents; a check book; and posters. The total cost incurred for the confiscated and damaged equipment is estimated at some NIS 400,000 [approx. USD 110,000]. About a week after the incident, Abu Saleh lodged a complaint with the Palestinian police.
Printing machine at the a-Nahdah Print Shop, after the search. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B’Tselem, 23 March 2017
The military’s actions in these incidents provide a further illustration that Palestinian “control” is in name only and is completely subject to Israel’s decisions, even in the heart of Palestinian cities designated Area A. The military law imposed by Israel in the West Bank allows the military’s officers and soldiers to enter any Palestinian home or business without presenting a warrant and without justifying their actions, regardless of whether they are in Area A, B or C. Israeli security forces abuse this authority throughout the West Bank, regularly and arbitrarily entering Palestinian homes and businesses. Often, as was the case in the raids described above, security forces cause serious damage to businesses or leave destruction in their wake in homes without any justification. This conduct is one of the most pervasive and powerful indications of Israel’s control over the lives of all Palestinians in the West Bank.
The a-Nahdah Print Shop after the search. Photo by Abdulkarim Sadi, B’Tselem, 23 March 2017