A new study reveals that around 260 Palestinian families are exposed to home invasions by Israeli soldiers every month, causing trauma and psychological issues.
A recent study carried out by three non-governmental organisations shows that arbitrary home invasions by Israeli security forces are causing significant psychological damage to Palestinians in the West Bank.
The study is based on 158 testimonies collected from Palestinian men and women who experienced such invasions, 45 interviews conducted with Israeli soldiers and officers and 31 interviews by health experts conducted with Palestinian victims whose homes were invaded by soldiers.
A Palestinian man from Silwad region told researchers that the raids completely destroyed their sense that home is a peaceful, safe place, defining what happens as “a kind of terrorism".
The detailed report disclosed that armed Israeli soldiers raid Palestinian homes 267 times each month, waking women, men and children, and carrying out different actions of violence inside the homes of Palestinian residents.
How Israeli soldiers perform these raids is given in detail in the research. Around ninety per ent of the home invasions documented began between midnight and 5AM. Sixty-five of the families say their houses were raided more than once.
In one fourth of the cases, doors are forced open, or broken. The average duration of an invasion is about 80 minutes. Three quarters of the homes were invaded by ten or more soldiers, at times up to thirty.
Israeli soldiers do not present family members any document, or a warrant to explain why they are invading the private domain or who approved the invasion because Israel’s military law does not necessitate soldiers to do so.
In about a quarter of the documented cases, soldiers use physical force or violence or threats. One-third of the victims say soldiers pointed firearms at their heads or bodies.
The report states that with these home intrusions, Israeli soldiers indirectly relay a message saying that “their bodies are constantly vulnerable to harm.”
These raids are not regulated by any rules, or laws, which makes any Palestinian home in the West Bank a legitimate target if the Israeli Army finds it convenient.
After the raids, an average of 238 arrests occur in a month, which is about 55 a week.
“Home invasions are traumatic events”
Home invasions are likened to burglary by the researchers, a forced intrusion into the victims’ private space, thus called as “traumatic events”.
“Palestinians experienced a sense of loss of control, which is the core of the trauma,” health experts running the research observed. That sense could negatively impact family members’ functioning and mental health. Children victims complained more about sleep disruption.
An Israeli first sergeant was quoted in the report saying that they picked homes to be raided completely “randomly”.
Muhammad Asfur, a sixty-nine-year-old Palestinian man from Sinjil, who lives with his wife and five of his children, said in his testimony that he had a sense of threat that soldiers could come into the bedroom at any given moment.
Other Palestinians said they started to stay in their verandas/porches instead of inside their bedrooms, so they could hear if Israeli soldiers were approaching.
An Israeli lieutenant quoted in the report said he could enter any place in Hebron any time he wanted, search for whatever he wanted, and turn their house upside down if he wanted to.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, prohibits arbitrary interference of the state with the right to privacy.
“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honor and reputation,” it says.