Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank have used at least three Palestinian family homes as military posts in recent months.
On April 18, at around 11.30pm, a dozen Israeli soldiers surrounded a family home in al-Lubban al-Sharqiya, a village located around 13 miles south of Nablus. According to testimony provided by the Draghmeh family to human rights organisation Al-Haq, the soldiers climbed to the top of the house without explaining why they were there.
The soldiers proceeded to set up a tent on the roof, as well as erecting an Israeli flag, and turned the roof into a military post. The soldiers reportedly told a family member that they were on a “military mission”, and that they would leave once the mission was over.
The soldiers stayed for three days, departing on April 21. But there is no guarantee that they will not return, as another case shows.
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On March 23, as recorded by UN OCHA, Israeli forces took over the Abu Shamleh family home in Ya’bad village near Jenin, and “converted it into a military observation point.” Palestinian sources say the invasion of the property was violent, including the use of sound bombs by soldiers.
Israeli forces have been repeatedly seizing the Abu Shamleh house for use as a military post for more than four months now (see this December 20 news report by WAFA), causing property damage and intimidating the three families who live there, including 19 children.
According to local sources, Israeli authorities have asked Yahya Abu Shamleh to install searchlights around his house, on the basis that Palestinians allegedly throw stones at settler vehicles from the area, threatening him that they will demolish his animal shelters if he fails to install the lights.
The last time the army was in the home, says Abu Shamleh, was April 15. When the soldiers occupy the house, he says, they come after maghrib prayers (that is, just after sunset), and prevent the family from coming in or out.
A third example of Israeli forces taking over civilians’ homes for military activities comes from Hebron where, in December, soldiers set up a base inside a family home, denying the residents access to the top two floors.
A common factor in the aforementioned cases is the proximity of the Palestinian communities in question to Israeli settlements. The area around Ya’bad, for example, has five illegal colonies. Last October, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy was assaulted by settlers as he picked olives in his family fields in Ya’bad; according to news reports, the settlers had come from nearby Mevo Dotan.
Al-Lubban al-Sharqiya, meanwhile, is similarly affected by the presence of Israeli settlers, whether in terms of land appropriation, restrictions on access to water springs, or violent attacks. There are three colonies in the vicinity of the village: Ma’ale Levona, Eli, and Givat Harel.
Incidents such as these – Israeli occupation forces using Palestinian civilian homes as military outposts – go largely unreported in English language media coverage of the region. Yet they are symptomatic of an ongoing occupation where the primary task of the Israeli military is to protect more than 200 illegal settlements, and even facilitate their expansion.
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