PRESS RELEASE: YAS house raided again and encampment set up by Israeli settlers

A Youth Against Settlements (YAS) meeting was interrupted yesterday on the 27th of November. The meeting of approximately 20 Palestinians was held outside. A soldier began shouting “Knife! Knife!” and some of the activists went up to see what was going on. The officer of the army in Tel Rumeida arrived, and the soldiers fired flares into the sky. The army surrounded the house and singled out Ahmad al Azzih, the youngest activist present, and arrested him, claiming that he carried a knife. Issa Amro, Jawad Abo Aisha, and a Danish activist went to ask the soldiers about Azzih. The soldiers shouted at Amro and wanted to take the Danish activist’s passport on the basis that internationals were not allowed to be there, but Amro explained that the Danish activist was his guest. The soldier complained that Amro was preventing the army from doing their work and that he was hiding a terrorist in the house. Amro was then taken into custody and brought to the police station.

Amro accounts of his mistreatment by the soldiers: They kept him blindfolded on a toilet chair in a tiny and smelly bathroom for four and a half hours with his hands cuffed behind his back. Soldiers constantly opened and slammed the door to intimidate him. They were chanting his name outside and some threatened to shoot him. This was followed by an hour of interrogation. He was then released. Despite YAS confirming that Azza was with them the entire time and had not done anything illegal and no one saw him moving around with a knife, the soldiers kept him. YAS believes that he was arrested for being the youngest and thus the most vulnerable to the army’s interrogation.

Back at the center, Israeli settlers came outside, surrounding the house while insulting the inhabitants, shouting that they were “sons of dogs” or “sons of bitches.” The soldiers proceeded to raid the center while ordering everyone to sit on chairs outside, keeping the Palestinians at a distance from the Danish activist and an Italian journalist. The soldiers confiscated all of the Palestinians’ cell phones for approximately two hours while the house was raided. The Israeli police arrived and recorded the passport information of the two internationals. The soldiers and the police also recorded the ID information of the Palestinians. The settlers surrounded the house and watched the process. They brought chairs, blankets, tables, and mattresses outside as a way to block the road to the house, and they camped out during the night with the intention of provoking Youth Against Settlements activists and occupying the house, claiming that it belonged to them. Among them was a wealthy visitor from America. The Youth Against Settlement activists were finally allowed inside the house again after approximately an hour and a half. From the present point of writing this report, the settlers are still outside, protected by soldiers.

*Update: Issa Amro has been released; Ahmad al Azzih’s trial has been postponed  until December 3