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Rawad Darweesh, Student, Birzeit University , 6 November 2008
Time: 17.00, Tuesday, 1/4/2008
Place: Birzeit municipality, Almarj, Abu Thayab building
After getting back to my dorms in Birzeit village from university, I was sitting in my room, studying business, with three friends. It had been a sad day for us, because one of the Birzeit students who lived in the same building as us had been killed by one of the Israeli settlers from Shilo settlement. His name was Abed al-Latif Hrob and he was from Kharas, a village in Hebron.
The dorms were peaceful and quiet. Suddenly we were all shocked by the noise of sound bombs, and a feeling of horror filled the entire area – there were loud screams from the residences, and I immediately realized that there were Israeli jeeps all over the area. I immediately thought about how this is something I had been expecting for a while – since I started at Birzeit University I had watched it happen to other students, and I had been waiting for the day that my friends and I would be the ones targeted by the Israeli army – arrested with no charge in an attempt to frighten us.
My thoughts were interrupted by someone knocking hard on the door – actually it was more of an attempt to break the door. My friend, shaking and scared, went to open it, and as soon as he opened it a large number of soldiers entered the room. They ordered the four of us to sit down on the floor in the corner of the room, after which they handcuffed us with plastic handcuffs that dug into our wrists. Then they made us all leave the residence, along with everyone else that lived there.
Outside the building I saw more than seven jeeps, all full of soldiers and with them were big scary dogs. After making us leave our dorms, they searched the entire building, claiming that they were searching for guns. They searched very roughly, leaving a huge mess behind them – when we got back we saw that the floor was covered with kitchen utensils and other things. In our room the Palestinian hata and some Palestinian posters which were stuck on the wall, had been ripped down and thrown on the floor.
Outside, they started asking me questions about the martyr, Abed al-Latif – they wanted to know his political affiliation and asked other questions, all of which I didn’t know the answers to. When we said “we don’t know”, they took all the IDs of everyone living in the building to check if there were any connections between him and them – they said he was living with his 3 brothers, all of whom were students at Birzeit University.
After they finished interrogating us the soldiers went to the next residence and repeated the same procedure there. After a while some Palestinian guys nearby started throwing stones at the Israeli army jeeps, and the army responded by throwing tear gas canisters and sound bombs. There were also a lot of gun shots, which made us more scared.
Eventually the army left, after completing the same search process in the next door dorm. Once they left we quickly walked around to check on everybody. Luckily no one got hurt…we went back to our residence and tidied up our apartment. I tried to get back to the studying I was doing before, but I couldn’t help but wonder when the next time we would be subjected to a raid by the Israeli army would be.