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Border Police Beat Huwwara Citizens

At around 5:30 pm on Wednesday, July 22, MPT received a call from their Palestinian contact, Zakiraya, alerting them to a situation between the villages of Huwwara and Awarta where border police were harassing and beating Palestinian youth. When MPT arrived 15 minutes later, an army jeep with 4 members of the border police was on one side of the road with one Palestinian male while two other Palestinian men were standing on the opposite side of the road. MPTers stood at a distance with cameras, letting the border police know they were there and were documenting what was happening in hopes of preventing any further harassment. Shortly after MPT arrived, the border police called over the two other Palestinians, to their side of the road, speaking briefly with them before having them sit down separated from each other. Around 6:10 pm, twenty minutes after MPT arrived, the border police gave the Palestinians back their identification cards and allowed them to leave. MPT later learned that they had been detained for two hours before MPT arrived and that the Israeli DCO had been called but did not come to the scene.

Young man being questioned by border police

Man asked to cross the street to be closer to border police

After it was clear that the Palestinian youth were being released, MPT made their way towards the road where the Palestinians were in order to find out more about what had happened. The army jeep was leaving but stopped and called the three MPTers over to question the purpose of their presence. They asked to see their passports and when one MPTer questioned their right to look at their passports, the border policeman assured them that he had the right to do so, though MPT’s training had informed them otherwise. The border policeman continued to ask a number of questions including what MPT was doing there and why they were taking pictures. When an MPTer told him that they knew they were allowed to take pictures, he then informed them that while taking pictures is permitted, taking them of Israeli military personnel while they are working is not allowed as it interferes with their work. In actuality, the only time taking pictures is not permitted is in a closed military zone. The scene MPT was called to was not in a closed military zone. This experience is an example of how border police will often attempt to claim authority outside their jurisdiction.

Later that night, MPT was called once again and informed that there was a flying checkpoint set up in Huwwara, which created a standing line of traffic on the main road. A flying, or random, checkpoint is a military jeep or number of jeeps that sets up a roadblock without warning where there is usually no checkpoint. Flying checkpoints are used to take Palestinians off guard. They are utilized often and result in the slowing down or stopping of Palestinian movement within the West Bank. When MPT arrived at the flying checkpoint, there was one truck being held up by a border police jeep. MPT made their presence known and the vehicle was allowed to pass soon after their arrival. The border police left about 10 minutes later.

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