A new video from Nabi Saleh shows a night-time raid on the home of activist Bilal Tamimi, during which soldiers claim they just want peace – as they take all the children out from their beds.
Nightly raids on the homes of Palestinian activists in the popular struggle are nothing new. The people of each and every village where demonstrations take place on a regular basis know that at one point or another – their houses are likely to get raided in the dead of night, at times turned upside down, at times leading to arrests, but often just for the sake of intrusion and intimidation. In certain villages, like Bil’in, soldiers would just roam the streets at night, throwing around stun and tear gas grenades into front yards. As Noam Sheizaf recently wrote – it’s just another part of the routine of occupation.
The video documentation of these raids, taken on by the villagers themselves, gives a unique look into the way soldiers think and work while parading through civilians homes in large groups, armed from head to toe. In the latest video, shot by Bilal Tamimi in his own home during a raid that took place between Sunday and Monday night, the soldiers are seen entering the house and asking that all residents be concentrated in one room. When asked why they are doing this, the officer leading the operation gives the amazing answer: “Of course. Because we want peace, and you are always throwing stones on our roads,” and later adds that they just came “for a visit.”
As the recording proceeds the soldiers enter the house, ask to wake all the children up and put them all in one room. Confronted with the fact that some of the children are but 5 years old, the officer insists they are all to stay in one place. While performing a short search of the house the soldiers are glad to find empty tear standard tear gas canisters, shot by the army at demonstrators and often kept by activists as memorabilia. In the past, Bil’in’s Abdallah Abu-Rahme was actually charged with illegal possession of weapons for holding such a stash – worthless as an actual weapon, of course.
By the end of the video the officer is also seen questioning two of the children if they have “anything that is prohibited,” going through a school bag, and leaving with a “good night” greeting to the family. When entering another house, where a woman tells them that she is alone and that this is the twentieth time they’ve come to her house, some of the soldiers stop Tamimi from filming.
The most amazing thing about this short peep into the raids’ routine is the soldiers’ apparent complete lack of self-awareness. Standing there inside a family’s house, in the dead of night, pointing guns at civilians young and old, they try to act natural and even nice, and of course – all in the name of their genuine intent for peace.