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Left at the Roadside

Israeli soldiers more often than not leave Palestinians still handcuffed far from their homes, sometimes in the middle of the night

Jerusalem24 – The lawyers of the Israeli soldiers involved in the death of 78-year-old Palestinian Omar Assad have recently published a photo in their defense. The photo shows the elderly man lying on the ground with his head lifted.

The argument they are presenting is that Assad was alive when they left because his head is raised over the ground.

Jalal Khater, a Palestinian marathon runner tweeted a thread saying that the practice of leaving Assad with his hands tied at night is not an isolated practice; rather it is routine.

He also went on to say that this involves Palestinians of different ages, including children. Sometimes these Palestinians were injured and left to bleed to death, others left in fields far from their homes during the night.

In 2009, Israeli soldiers approached Yasser Tmeizi while he was plowing his lands in the Palestinian village of Idna, West of Hebron accompanied by his 7-year-old son Firas. The soldiers physically assaulted him, handcuffed, and detained him before shooting him and leaving him to bleed. By the time the Red Crescent ambulance reached him and took him to a hospital, he had died.

The 34-year-old was a father of two.

In 2012, the 13-year-old Mohammad Al-Zeir was on his way home from school when two Israeli army jeeps arrived a soldier grabbed him and put him inside one of them. The soldiers blindfolded him and took him to the nearby Herodian army base.

He was held there for several hours. During the evening, the soldiers took him out of the room and dropped him off in an area near the intersection at the entrance to Tuqu, a kilometer from his home.

“I don’t know where the jeep drove because I was blindfolded and it was dark. After about half an hour, the jeep stopped. The soldiers took off my blindfold, but they left my hands tied. They took me out of the jeep and drove away. I think that it was at the intersection around Tuqu. I am not totally sure about the place, because it was very dark. I was really scared because I was alone in the dark. My hands were tied and I didn’t know where I was.”

– Mohammad Al-Zeir, in testimony to B’Tselem

On April 30th of the same year, Mohammad was arrested again. This time, he was taken from his home to an army base. The soldiers had blindfolded and handcuffed him and had him sit down in an open yard for several hours.

Then, without questioning him, the soldiers put him in a jeep and drop him off in the middle of the night in an area near Tuqu. With no idea where he was or how to get home, he knocked on the door of a nearby house and woke the residents.

“I woke up when I heard someone knocking on the door. I looked at the clock and saw that it was 2:30 AM. I was surprised and couldn’t figure out who could be at the door so late. I went to see who it was, opened the door, and saw a youngster of 13 or 14. His hands were cuffed. I asked him who he was and what he wanted. I explained to him that he was in Tuqu. He told me that soldiers had arrested him at his house in Harmalah and that after he sat and waited for a few hours in the yard at the army base, the soldiers put him into an army vehicle and let him off in the village, with his hands cuffed.

-Witness in the Case of Mohammad Al-Zeir in testimony to B’Tselem

The incident involving Mohammad Al-Zeir was documented by the Israeli Human Rights Organization, B’Tselem

Jalal even mentioned a friend of his, Bashar Zubeidat who around a month ago faced a similar situation when he went running.

In an Instagram post, Bashar Zubeidat described the situation. In the post, he wrote, “since when is running a crime! Everything is different for us in Palestine.” He added, “not only do we not have a Right to Movement in Palestine, but we also face getting detained for practicing the sport we love, running!”

One Friday morning, Zubeidat planned to do a 21km run in his hometown of Zubeidat in the Jordan Valley. with him were his brother and cousin, who were there to support him with water and nutrients. Zubeidat was planning to break his record in this run and had been training hard for it.


While running an Israeli military jeep approached. They stopped him, his cousin, and brother. They blindfolded them and cuffed their hands. Then, they detained them in an army base for 7 hours. They were not allowed to call anyone, even family, while detained.

The soldiers dropped him, his brother, and cousin on the road near Jiftlik, about 10km away from the town of Zubeidat. They were still handcuffed under the sun in the Northern Jordan Valley.

Zubeidat says that living under Israeli occupation makes everything a whole different story. “This would have never happened to any Israeli athlete, let alone runner,” he says.  Zubeidat  then adds, “but, being Palestinians, we are always under the threat of being attacked, detained without reason, and denied our Right to Movement.”

In a tweet, Khater says that “the young men were luckier than Omar.”

The practice of leaving Palestinians handcuffed and in remote locations at unreasonable times such as the middle of the night are not as uncommon as the Israeli military claims it to be. Rather, it is a quite common occurrence that has been documented several times.

While Omar Assad’s status as an American citizen has provided his case with some media coverage. His family told Ha’aretz that the measures taken by the Israeli army against the officers and soldiers involved in the incident of death are “just a joke.” They called for serious and effective US intervention.

But in most cases, nothing often happens. On June 13th, 2012 B’tselem contacted the Military Police Investigations Unit (MPIU) demanding they open an investigation into the incidents involving young Mohammad Al-Zeir. However, they have not received any responses from the MPIU since then.



Mohammad Hamayel

Ramallah based journalist, Mohammad graduated from Al-Quds University with a B.A. in Media and Television. He has covered the 2015 Jerusalem Intifada as well as the Great March of Return for international media outlets. currently an editor/presenter at Jerusalem24. A UN alumni and a follower of global events and politics, especially American affairs.

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