Occasionally they come several times a week, sometimes only once.
Always before dawn, usually between 2 and 3 a.m. Sometimes their
faces are hooded, or they’re disguised as Arabs, sometimes not.
Sometimes they come on foot, quietly, other times in jeeps.
Sometimes on their way out of the camp they shoot people, the way
Tamer Kusba in the
back while he was washing the pavement near the supermarket where he
worked. Usually they come to arrest people (with or without lists,
usually without), who usually end up sitting for months on end in
jail without a trial. They always sow destruction inside homes as
well, break and shatter things, trash the place, at times under the
pretext of looking for weapons, at others – not even that. Sometimes
they steal and beat people up. Many children have been wetting their
beds at night for a long time now, and many youths are afraid to
fall asleep, and so are their parents.
That week they came at 3 a.m., Abu Omar tells us. They knocked on my
door. I looked out through the window and saw a DCO jeep. I woke up
my son and told him to get dressed, there are soldiers at the door.
I told my wife, too. I waited for them to knock again, perhaps, but
they didn’t, and I was afraid they’d break in so I looked again, and
they were gone.
Two days later they came at 2:30 a.m. I heard jeeps, got up, looked
out the window, and saw them at our neighbors’. Muntaser’s home. The
one who’s in Ofer prison.
They opened the door and many soldiers entered. Searched the house,
and took his two brothers away, 22-year old Mustafa and 20-year old
Muhammad. There are now four brothers in jail. Muntaser and his
brother were arrested a while ago, as I told you then, and now these
Their poor mother… Four sons in prison.
The night the soldiers picked up Muntaser’s two brothers, they
arrested eighteen people. No one knows why. If it’s Captain Zakai’s
order or what.
And then they came again (November 26th, 2008). Many soldiers. A
neighbor tells us they trashed everything in his house and broke
down doors. They picked up twenty-two guys that night. And eighteen
before that. I don’t know what happened. Qalandiya’s quiet, after
all. No demonstrations, nothing. What’s the problem? What do they
want with us?
They always come at 2, or 2:30 a.m. and then they start, Hitham
tells us… I can’t explain to you how they break in, like beasts…
They start beating on doors, yelling “Army! Army! Open up!...” to
scare everyone. I’m not lying to you, Aya.
If someone doesn’t want to open the door, they have this machine
they attach to the door, they push a button and it smashes its way
in. They break down the door that way. Many houses have been broken
into this way, houses that stand empty, with no one inside - and so
the house remains open.
Sometimes the soldiers knock on the door and the people don’t open
because they’re scared, so the soldiers break in.
It costs 1000 shekel to fix such a door. One thousand shekel!
That night, November 26th, 2008,
the night they killed Um Sa'id,
no one heard them. They came on foot from different directions.
There was just no way for anyone to even try to get away.
They came ready with a wanted list. They came to our neighborhood
too, they came to my cousin and picked up his son. They live right
across from me, in their 3-story house.
A while before they came to me, I was already awake. I had slept and
my daughter cried so I got up and opened the window overlooking the
street, don’t know why. The soldier told me to close the window and
turn off the light. In the street I thought I saw more than 200
soldiers. And jeeps, and guns and helmets. My wife was asleep, she
wasn’t aware of anything. And our daughter had fallen asleep again.
I turned the light off, then, so they wouldn’t do anything to us,
and closed the kitchen door. And I watched them without their
All my neighbors were outside, more than twenty-five people. With
their babies. And little children. And my own relatives, in their
Everyone out on the street, no, I wouldn’t lie to you. Not right in
the street, just outside the house.
The army was searching their house for weapons, so they say, but
found nothing. They trashed everything, the bedrooms, smashed the
beds, closets… Everything. The washing machine. The construction
tools, work tools, they threw out everything. And all done with
force. They crashed chairs and tables against the floor. You know,
they entered the kitchen, and a soldier smashed all their dishes on
the floor. Everything is broken… Is that a place to search? Among
the glasses and plates? Looking for people between dishes? For
weapons? It’s all done just to cause damage, to destroy.
It's the children who really break my heart. Their little children.
Who had to see it all. They’re little but they already understand.
The youngest is three years-old. The oldest fourteen.
My cousin’s older brother, who was arrested, has six daughters and
two sons. The other brother has four daughters and two sons. Another
brother – his oldest is eleven and youngest three years-old.
So they all stood outside, hardly dressed, in fear and cold. And I
see everything with my own eyes. Through the window. The children –
this gnaws their minds. They way it all happens – it doesn’t escape
My cousin told me the kids peed all over themselves for fear and
How can such a thing be done…
You see, they come in the dark. That’s not something they’d show on
television. No cameras, nothing. But if the camera catches a 14-year
old picking up a stone, they show it on all the channels. And what
they do to children in the dark – they don’t show that.
It hurts, it really does.
They came to my house around 3 a.m. “Army, army, open up!” I opened,
so they wouldn’t break down my door… Maybe they came to me because I
had opened the window earlier, to punish me.
Until then my wife had been sleeping, she didn’t know what was going
on. But when they knocked on our door, she woke up and the children
began to cry. Twelve soldiers came to my house. They said they were
on a search and I asked to see a search warrant. The soldier said:
What are you… and just pushed me, hard. I asked him: Just wait a
moment, let me wake up my wife so she can get dressed. He mimicked
me in such a voice, “… so she can get dressed… get dressed…”
But we were speaking loudly in the doorway so my wife woke up and
I didn’t have to tell her anything, and right away she went to the
children’s room and picked up my 10-month old baby in her arms, and
our 2.5-year old daughter by the hand, and stood, afraid for me, and
for the children, and the children cried.
But they are very little, maybe they won’t remember this. I hope so,
Then the soldiers began to search and house and I told them I want
to go into the bedroom with them. I was afraid of what they’d do… I
said to them, you’re not searching without my standing there. He
looked at me like this, as if what I was saying was… I asked, do you
have a warrant to make this search and he said, shut up, and swore
at me – some in Arabic and some in Hebrew, I can’t even repeat to
you what he said. And then he said, get moving… And mocked me. They
put my wife and children in the room, and I told the soldiers I
could complain. Ah, you know about the law, he said, for laughs. I
stayed with them. They went into the kitchen and opened the
cupboards, looking in. I told them to behave because I’m a human
being. And they really didn’t do too much because I was standing
there, and they saw that I know about the law, so they only broke
the bedroom closet doors because they forced them open and pushed
around the clothes.
Why with force? Why?
Every door costs 250 shekels, but it’s not the money I’m worried
about, it’s their racism. I’m telling you the truth.
They were in my house for about 20 minutes, then they said, “we’re
going upstairs” and asked how many people live here. They just asked
like that, then left and went upstairs, more than 25 soldiers. They
set up a guard-post up there.
They came down at about 6, or 5:45 a.m., having finished all their
business, and took all the young men with them. Then they walked
down to the quarries, where their jeeps were waiting.
Why did they come to me? To look for weapons? I don’t even have
food, I have no money for food, so I’d possess weapons?
After they left my home, I took my wife and kids over to my father’s
downstairs and wanted to go over to my cousin’s house. He works
nights and his wife and children are alone. So I took my old mother
with me to go over there together. And the soldiers told me, “Why
are you out here? Go home! Curfew!” I told them I was going to my
cousin’s house, he works nights, and his wife is alone in a 4-story
house, but they wouldn’t let us go there, and my mother went back. I
said I have to go there, I wouldn’t give up and finally they let me.
This was another unit, not the one that came to my house. Lots of
soldiers were in the street. All over the neighborhood, and on top
of the houses. Everywhere.
I went inside my cousin’s house and found his wife and children in
the room where the soldiers had closed them in, all crying. And I
saw Israeli soldiers inside the bedroom, and she there alone without
her husband, I mean why do you even go in there? In Israel this
wouldn’t happen. If anyone would do the least little bit of all that
they do here, he’d pay dearly for it, he’d be charged. It’s all
because we’re occupied, and we’re Arabs, and that’s the way they are
with us… I don’t know…
I saw them, Aya. They searched ugly. Real ugly. A soldier smashes
everything in the kitchen on the floor... Everything is thrown down.
Just for the sake of breaking it all. That’s how you search with
your hands among glasses and dishes? They broke everything.
Everything on the floor. And the closet doors.
I asked the soldier, “Why are you doing this? Would you do this to
And he said, “Don’t interfere, step aside.”
He spoke Hebrew. He doesn’t speak Arabic. And then he said, “Get
into that room with them, keep them quiet so they won’t cry.” He was
not speaking nicely. And I stood there. So they forced me into the
room, and everyone there was afraid, upset. Little children. The
older girl is sixteen, there are eight children, the youngest is two
years-old. All sitting closed in a room, crying, afraid… I didn’t
want to do anything because of the little ones. So I went in. Not
speaking. But they felt a little better, seeing me. Uncle, uncle!
The little ones cried. I’m afraid, I’m afraid! They yelled and
cried, and we were there together.
After about 20-30 minutes, the soldier came and said, “we’re done,
finished the search”.
I said, You’ve broken everything.
Didn’t search for a thing.
And they left.
At 4:30 a.m. I left my cousin’s house. There were soldiers in the
street. Stop! Where are you going! Curfew! Go away!... They swore at
me, but let me through, and I went home.
That night they came to pick people up. I saw them taking my cousin
and three others from our neighborhood. Saw them with my own eyes.
They have a list. They came with a list. They knew where every
single one lived, where his home was. They didn’t search for
anything. They come, collect everyone’s IDs, then arrest the guy.
First they beat him up. Then they grip his hands in back, shackle
them tight, real right so it hurts, blindfold him, and put him in
They also hit him on the head with chairs… Then they hurry off in
the jeep, without letting him give his mother a hug, nothing.
That night, they picked up 22 guys this way.
They trashed a lot. Not in my house, just six closet doors, I told
you. Because I know the law. Every door costs a lot of money, but
they don’t think about the damages they do and the fear they sow.
They did much more damage in the homes of the people they arrested.
They destroy and they don’t care. Because they do it on purpose.
Afterwards people said in the camp that soldiers stole cellular
phones, and gold and money. You know, one guy kept dollars and
shekels and Jordanian dinars at home. They took shekels and dollars,
and didn’t touch the Jordanian money. Because they have no use for
it. Jordanian dinar is no good outside Jordan so they didn’t take
any. Ever heard such a thing?
If someone was robbed here, he should complain of course. But what
will the judge say? Who robbed you?
How will he remember such a thing?
It’s as though there is law, but there is no law here. There is
Isn’t it a pity? What have we done to them? We lived together, I
have spent more time in Israel than in Qalandiya. How they behave
with people, that’s not nice at all.
We build their homes and they destroy ours.
Have you seen what’s going on in Hebron?
The police remove the settlers from the houses, then the soldiers
and Border Patrolmen help the settlers and beat up Palestinians.
The Israeli people, the settlers and the soldiers are all the same.
I’m no racist, never have been. But inside Israel no one would dare
force himself like that into a home at 2:30 a.m., order the children
out into the cold air outside. It’s all because of racism that they
behave this way with us.
I hate saying this, but the Israeli soldiers are racists.
I’ll tell you only one more little thing. It’s a 4-year old boy
whose uncle was picked up, and they were in the room, and he told
his father that he had to pee. So his father told the soldier the
child had to go to the bathroom.
You know how the soldier answered? Let him pee over himself. Write
That’s what really cuts into my heart.
And the whole world is silent. The whole world is silent.
Translated by Tal Haran