When there is open conflict between Israel and the people of the Occupied Territories, we can see the terror unleashed by the US-supported Israeli military machine on a largely defenseless Palestinian population. What is not seen is the terror inflicted on a routine basis. A new report by human rights groups describes what that is like.
“A Life Exposed,” a new report produced jointly by human rights organizations Yesh Din, Breaking the Silence, and Physicians for Human Rights Israel, shines a spotlight on just one such indignity: the Israeli military’s practice of arbitrary home invasions, or raids, in the West Bank.
When carried out within Israel’s pre-1967 borders, such actions require having a warrant or probable cause, and are subject to a host of other rules and regulations of the sort democratic societies usually mandate. But the Israel Defense Force (IDF) is free to barge into a Palestinian home in the occupied Palestinian territories without any of those, effectively for any reason and at any time, regardless of whether the action produces any results. These reasons include arresting someone; looking for money, weapons, and other objects; seizing a property for military operations; and “mapping” — gathering information about a home’s physical layout and the people who live there, a practice that was recently barred after years of outrage.
By drawing on more than two hundred pieces of testimony from both Palestinians and IDF soldiers, the report presents a harrowing picture of the nature of these home invasions and their lasting psychological impact, especially for children. According to the report, a typical Israeli military home invasion involves anywhere from around five to thirty IDF soldiers and lasts an average of eighty minutes. In roughly a quarter of the cases examined by the report’s authors, Israeli soldiers simply broke open the door to a home rather than wait for the occupants to open it, and 88 percent of the operations took place between midnight and 5 AM.
“In many cases, perhaps most cases, a search ends in nothing, as clearly emerges from testimonies given by both Palestinians and soldiers,” the report states.
Multiple respondents liken the scenes left in their homes by rampaging IDF soldiers to an “earthquake,” with Israeli troops ransacking homes and leaving dirt, household items, broken dishes, and other smashed objects scattered on the floor.
The report outlines the lingering feelings of trauma and loss of control among Palestinians on the receiving end. Children wet themselves in fear during and after the invasions.
The fact that most searches end in nothing exposes the real reason for such raids. It is to terrorize and demoralize the population by making them feel degraded and dehumanized and powerless. That is how apartheid regimes operate.