Israeli soldiers are revealed to have forced Palestinian women to strip naked during a raid in the West Bank in July, threatening to release attack dogs on them if they refused.
According to a report by the Israeli news outlet, Haaretz, today, Israeli forces conducted an early morning raid on the home of the Palestinian Ajluni family in south Hebron back in July, waking a total of 26 people in the household, including 15 children aged from 4 months to 17 years old.
While male soldiers searched the male family members without requiring them to take off their clothes, female soldiers took the women of the family into a room at separate times and forced them to strip naked. According to the women, the soldiers threatened to set dogs on the women if they resisted, and sometimes released the dogs close to the women in an effort to scare them into complying.
The female family members who were forced to strip naked consisted of 53-year-old Ifaf, her 17-year-old daughter, Zeinab, and Ifaf’s three daughters-in-law – Amal, Diala and Rawan – who are in their twenties. Despite taking off their outer garments with little left to hide any potential weapons, the women were still forced to strip to their skin.
Aside from using the presence of dogs, the soldiers also reportedly used their rifles to threaten the women into compliance and to prevent male family members from intervening. During the ordeal, the occupation forces arrested the family’s eldest son, Harbi, who they took with them following the ordeal.
His wife, Diala, discovered afterwards that 2,000 shekels ($526) previously in a drawer had disappeared, immediately suspecting the soldiers of having taken it. The family also discovered that the Israeli forces took gold jewellery worth 40,000 shekels ($10,500) from the home, which the youngest brother, Mohammed, had bought prior to his wedding.
The Israeli military’s spokesperson’s unit has justified the raid as being on “the basis of intelligence”, stating that “a long M16 was found, as well ammunition and a magazine. After finding the weapon, it was necessary to check the other people in the house to eliminate the possibility of finding other weapons there.”
Addressing the forced stripping of the women, the occupation forces said that “In accordance with instructions from detectives from the Hebron police, female [canine unit] combat soldiers searched the women in the house in a closed room, each one individually.”
In response to concerns that the soldiers had cameras fitted onto their helmets during the raid, as is usually the case during such operations, the Israeli military insisted that the “soldiers were not wearing cameras”, but that the dog “had a camera fitted on its back for operational purposes, and it was not turned on at that time”. They also claimed that the dogs were “not present in the room during the inspection”.
The military added that “a concealed black bag wrapped in duct tape was found and taken away, along with the weapon that was found. The bag was opened in the investigation room and it was understood that it was jewellery.” That gold was apparently given back the following day when “the brother of the arrested man came, signed that it was the family’s jewellery and took it back.”
The spokesperson’s unit denied that the occupation forces took the missing money, however, stating that “We are not familiar with the claim regarding the 2,000 shekels. We are not aware of any complaints regarding the case. If they are received, they will be considered, as is customary.”
The forcing of Palestinians to strip naked is commonly used by Israeli occupation forces as a tool of humiliation, and is often conducted at checkpoints and, sometimes, such raids on Palestinian homes. The use of attack dogs to threaten Palestinian women into compliance is seen as another level of humiliation and trauma, representing the increase in such operations throughout the West Bank over the past year.