Shakeups in Palestine
Two events have come to light that have caused ripples in Palestinian circles. Most recently, on September 4th a Palestinian woman was kicked by Israeli soldiers outside of Al-Aqsa Mosque, seemingly after she attempted to stab one Israeli soldier. The incident was caught on video and will be shown within this article. The other event took place in July, but only came to light recently after witnesses testified to Israeli news company Haaretz and Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
On July 10th witnesses testified that during an Israeli raid on a Palestinian apartment building, five women, ranging in age from 53 to 17 years old, were forced to completely strip nude during search requests in front of young children. When the women initially refused to fully strip in compliance with orders, Israeli soldiers allegedly threatened to release upon them the dogs that they had brought for the search.
Both of these events (though primarily the July 10th raid) prompted responses from most, if not all, major Palestinian militant groups, some of which launched attacks against IDF infrastructure. Additionally, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority commented in condemnation of July’s incident.
Clashes between Palestinians and Israelis at the Al-Aqsa mosque, known to most Jewish people as the Temple Mount, are pretty common. The site maintains significance both in Islam and Judaism, making it very tense for both groups. A video surfaced on the 4th of Israeli troops arresting a Palestinian woman outside the mosque, the method of which has drawn criticism from Palestinian groups. Detainments are common; however, the primary part that is drawing criticism is when the soldier kicks her while she is already on the ground. Palestinian groups have also claimed she was tasered at one point during the altercation.
It is distinctly important to note that it is alleged she was attempting to stab one of the Israeli soldiers. While the very beginning of the incident, particularly whether or not she is holding a knife in her hand, cannot be clearly seen due to other people in the area, what can be seen is her making several stab-like motions towards the soldier before attempting to run past him and then being knocked over and kicked as others in the area clear out.
Footage showing the stabbing attempt at the Al-Aqsa mosque on Monday pic.twitter.com/cHRh8pihdZ
— GHMV2 (@GHMV2Research) September 6, 2023
Additionally important to note is that a clipped version of the altercation has been circulating online amongst Palestinian-aligned circles, which only shows the second half of the altercation, showing the woman being kicked and pushed. The clipped version of the video is 7 seconds, whereas the full version is 14 seconds. The clipped version is being used by some to claim it was an unprompted attack on the woman.
Israeli sources reported that the soldier suffered no injuries as the knife was unable to pierce the protective equipment he was wearing.
The Strip Search, Threats, and Thefts
On July 10th, the IDF launched a raid upon the apartment building of the Ajluni family. The raid took place in the West Bank city of Hebron. The IDF has stated the raid took place acting upon intelligence that claimed they had weapons within the building. Within it were 26 members of the family, including 15 children, who were all gathered into one apartment. As is standard in raids, the men were separated into one area and the women and children into another.
As Israeli soldiers searched the building, equipped with dogs, two Israeli female soldiers allegedly began ordering some of the women, one by one, to enter one of the children’s rooms, which contained a number of young children. A total of five women were brought into the room and forced to strip completely nude, in front of the children before being forced to turn around to display they were not hiding any weapons. Palestinian groups insist this was done as a humiliation tactic. One of the women forced to strip was the mother of the children which were present in the room.
The women have claimed that during the incident, the two female Israeli soldiers had a dog with them and, when the women initially refused to comply, threatened to release the dog at them.
The women stated that they were selected for additional searching after the IDF soldiers were not content with their physical searches. Notably, no men were searched in this way, as the women stated that the Israelis were apparently content with the physical examinations performed on them.
After the raid on their building was over, the family alleges that a bag of jewelry worth 40,000 Israeli New Shekels (NIS; 40k NIS is equal to 10,509 USD) was stolen during the raid, as well as 2,000 NIS (525 USD). In their statement on the incident, the IDF stated that the bag of jewelry was retrieved by one of the family members the following day. Additionally, they stated that 2,000 NIS had not been stolen, as was known to them.
“As part of the searches, a black bag was found removed and wrapped in insulating tape and taken along with the amlach that was found. The bag was opened in the interrogation room and it was realized that it was jewelry. The day after the search, the detainee’s brother arrived, signed that these were the family’s jewelry and took them back. The allegation regarding the theft of NIS 2,000 is unknown. No complaints are known regarding the event. As they are received, they will be evaluated as acceptable.”
The family has claimed that the jewelry was not returned to them.
During the raid, the IDF claims to have found an M16 rifle as well as ammunition. They arrested the eldest son of the family, who has remained in detention since the raid.
The IDF’s statement on the incident alleges that the women were searched in a closed room alone.
The family remained silent about the incident until recently, when a field researcher for B’Tselem published about a similar incident she had experienced. The field researcher is a woman named Manal al-Ja’bari, who had stated that her home was raided during a mass-search of homes following a shooting in Hebron on August 21st. During the raid, though she was not suspected of weapons possession, she alleges she was ordered to remove her clothes as well by more female Israeli soldiers. In this incident, the Israeli soldier giving her these orders was wearing a headcam. Jabari refused to comply with the order, particularly since the soldier was wearing the headcam. The soldier proceeded to remove the camera, but Jabari refused to comply. Eventually the soldier gave up with the order, which Jabari stated she thinks is because she notified the soldier she was with B’Tselem.
Following Jabari’s publication of the incident, the women came forward and gave their testimonies of the strip searches to both B’Tselem and Haaretz under the condition that they not be photographed. Following Jabari’s mention of the headcam the Israeli soldier ordering her to remove clothing was wearing, the women additionally mentioned they saw something similar in appearance on the helmets of the two soldiers who forced them to strip, though they at the time did not know what they were. It is unknown if any camera footage of the incident exists. The IDF maintains there were no cameras in operation during the incident and that, while one of the dogs did have a camera on it, the dog was not in the room with the women during searches and the camera was not in operation at the time.
Jabari has claimed that the evidence for Palestinian women being forced into strip searches has multiplied in recent months, a tactic she said is mostly used to invoke fear and humiliation.
The Palestinian Response
Following the publicizing of the July 10th incident, many Palestinian groups have come out in intense condemnation, with many of the militant factions vowing a violent response. The time afterwards has seen an uptick in militant operations and protests from political groups and civilian populations.
One of the most notable events was yesterday, September 5th, when suspected Hamas militants deployed a high-impact explosive device upon the Gaza border fence, said to be in connection with the Hebron incident. The explosive went off amidst a protest on the border and was joined by a number of grenades and other small explosives. No Israelis or Palestinians were injured during the explosions.
Significant clashes have taken place in Jenin, Tulkarem, Hebron, and even close by Jerusalem in the town of Kafr Aqab.
Footage of the IDF dragging a disabled vehicle after clashes in Kafr Aqab pic.twitter.com/5Xe90N3tIg
— GHMV2 (@GHMV2Research) September 6, 2023
In Tulkarem, Israeli bulldozers were once again deployed to dig up a number of streets.
Footage showing the IDF’s withdrawal from Tulkarem yesterday, September 5th. pic.twitter.com/U6laC7dPVJ
— GHMV2 (@GHMV2Research) September 6, 2023
As previously mentioned, most major Palestinian militant factions have come out in condemnation of the incident, including the Lions’ Den, who had previously stated they would only release statements when deemed absolutely necessary. Below are some of those statements:
*Note that the Arabic name for Hebron is Al-Khalil. Additionally, Israel is oftentimes referred to as ‘The Enemy’, or the IOF, meaning Israeli Occupation Forces.
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
“Return to them, for we will surely come to them with forces they cannot resist, and we will surely drive them out from there, humiliated and diminished.”
This is the truth of Allah Almighty.
A brief statement.
The best of words is what is brief and clear. As we promised and actually fulfilled on the field our revenge for the glorious women of Al-Quds, we will avenge again for the free women of Khalil al-Rahman: we, the men of Al-Khalil, the lions of Al-Khalil, and its wolves [will avenge].
Whoever is silent about insulting our mothers, sisters, daughters, and free women is denied the Palestinian identity and does not deserve to live on our blessed land. There is no room for appeasement and respect for the feelings of those who do not respect their religion and homeland.
Here, the groups of the Lions’ Den must say their distinct word, and our word is with guns and blood only, at a time when those claiming manhood are ranting about patriotism and sacrifice.
Our message to the enemy:
When you attacked our girls in Al-Quds, the response from our Lions in the Mountain of Fire (Nablus) was harsh, and if you conceal the size of the response, the media does not concern us. We only care about the satisfaction of the Lord of the Worlds with us and our jihad.
Our war with you is open, and we will exhaust you in every aspect. We will go out to you, and the heroes will come out with us, our lone wolves, our people who do not accept humiliation and disgrace for our honor. We will come out to you from where you do not expect, as every time. You will receive one blow after another, and at that time, [your] pleas will be of no use.
Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest.
Victory is only from Allah, and that is not difficult to Allah.
Your brothers, the Lions’ Den Groups.
PIJ spokesman Tariq Selmi:
The serious violations committed against five women from Al-Khalil represent an aggression affecting all Palestinian people.
The crime of assaulting our women puts every Palestinian carrying a weapon in front of the duty to aim this weapon at the enemy’s chest and head, and to avenge the free women who have been subjected to this serious violation.
We call on our people in Al-Khalil and other Palestinian cities to escalate confrontation with the enemy.
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
The reports revealed by the media about the zionist IOF’s violation of the sanctity of Palestinian homes in the city of Al-Khalil, including home raids, terrorizing innocent people, and exposing the dignity of our women under the threat of weapons and police dogs, reaffirm once again that we are facing a rogue entity that disregards all norms and human values. It is devoid of any commitment to international laws that protect peoples under occupation. While the international community turns a blind eye to the ongoing crimes of the occupation, the “israeli” government continues to advance its violations and escalates its crimes to a dangerous level, affecting the dignity and sanctity of our Palestinian people, both men and women.
We, in the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), affirm that this crime is a serious escalation that our Palestinian people, their resistance, and their living forces will not tolerate. All these crimes and violations committed by this fascist occupation against our Palestinian people with the aim of terrorizing and intimidating them, and deterring them from the path of resistance, will fall in the face of the steadfastness and determination of our people and the strikes of our heroic resistance fighters. These will continue, by the permission of Allah, until the last soldier and settler are uprooted from our occupied land.
Islamic Resistance Movement – Hamas
Monday, 19 Safar 1445 AH
Corresponding to September 4th, 2023
Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades (PFLP):
The assault on our women in Al-Khalil is a grave mistake that will not pass without a response.
We have been following the news regarding the incident that took place, involving violations and attacks on our free women in Al-Khalil. This represents a blatant violation and a new aggression, where the occupation crossed all red lines.
This heinous and disgraceful crime will not go unanswered. The occupation will realize that by committing this significant folly against our women, it has ignited a fire upon itself. It must be understood by the world that tampering with the “Majesties of Palestine” will explode the situation in the entire region.
We call upon the masses of our people and our resistance fighters everywhere to join the battlefield and make the enemy pay the price for its escalating crimes. Let every confrontation area be ablaze with vengeance for our women and the free people of Palestine.
Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades
The Military Wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Tuesday, September 5, 2023
The PA Condemnation
In his statement, PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh called on international governments to condemn the incident in Hebron.
“Violating the sanctity of our homes and harming our women is a provocative, disgraceful, and terrible act, which is practiced only by those who are stripped of morals and human values” -PM Shtayyeh
The coming days are likely to see continued violence as Palestinian militants renew promises for violence.