More wounded Palestinians tell BBC the Israeli army forced them on to jeep

4 hours ago

By Lucy WilliamsonMiddle East Correspondent

Watch: CCTV appears to show Samir semi-naked on the bonnet of a jeep

Two more Palestinian men, injured during a military operation in the occupied West Bank last week, have told the BBC that Israeli soldiers forced them on to the bonnet of an army jeep and drove them – sometimes at speed – along village roads.

Their accounts came days after footage of 23-year-old Mujahid Abadi Balas clinging to the bonnet of what appears to be the same Israeli army jeep sparked international outrage.

The BBC has now spoken to two men who allege similar treatment during the operation in Jabariyat, on the outskirts of Jenin, last Saturday.

25-year-old Samir Dabaya, now in hospital in Jenin, says he was shot in the back by Israeli forces during the Jabariyat operation, and lay face-down and bleeding for hours, until soldiers came to assess him.

Watch: Footage shows wounded Palestinian man strapped to Israeli army jeep

When they turned him over and found that he was alive, he was beaten with a gun, he says, before being picked up, carried to the jeep and thrown onto it.

“They took off my [trousers]. I wanted to hold onto the car, but [one soldier] hit my face and told me not to. Then he started driving,” he said. “I was waiting for death.”

Samir showed us video footage from a security camera which appears to show him semi-naked, lying on a fast-moving jeep with a number 1 clearly marked on its side.

The location seems to match where the operation took place, but there is no date or time visible on the recording.

Another Palestinian man, Hesham Isleit, also told the BBC he was shot twice during the operation in Jabariyat and forced onto the same military jeep, marked with the number 1.

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Hesham Isleit says he was tied to a jeep by Israeli forces after being shot

He described “shooting from all sides” and said he tried to run away but was shot in the leg, after which an army unit arrived to collect him and another man.

“They ordered us to stand up, and undressed us,” he said, “then they asked us to get onto the front of the jeep.”

The car was so hot, it felt “like fire”, he says.

“I was barefoot and undressed. I tried to put my hand on the jeep and I couldn’t, it was burning hot. I was telling them it was very hot, and they were forcing me to get on – telling me that if I didn’t want to die, I should do it.”

We put these allegations to Israel’s army; it said the cases were under review.

In response to the original video of Mujahid Abadi Balas last week, the Israeli army said that he was tied to the jeep in “a violation of orders and procedures” and that his case would be investigated.

“The conduct of the forces in the video of the incident does not conform to the values of the IDF,” it said in a written response.

From his hospital bed, Mujahid told the BBC he hadn’t expected to survive the experience, and was saying his final prayers as he lay on the moving vehicle.

He showed the BBC a second video, recorded at some distance, that appears to support his account of being thrown onto the vehicle by Israeli soldiers.

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Mujahid, who was caught on camera being put on the front of a jeep, said he thought he would not survive

“Once they confirmed that I had nothing on me [no weapon], they came down from the jeep and started beating me on the face, the head, and the sites of my injuries,” he said. “The soldiers picked me up by my wrists and ankles, and [swung me] right and left, before throwing me in the air.”

He says he fell to the ground, was picked up and swung again, before being thrown onto the jeep, and driven to a nearby house.

The army said it was in Jabariyat last weekend to arrest wanted suspects, and that during the operation “terrorists opened fire at troops, who responded with live fire”.

Hesham said the house that he and Mujahid were in that day belonged to Majd al-Azmi, a neighbour and friend, who was arrested during the operation and remains in Israeli custody.

All three men say they were unarmed, and all were quickly released by the army after identity checks.

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Bombs buried near Jenin hit two Israeli units and left large craters in the road

The Israeli human rights group, Btselem, has been tracking the cases.

Its spokesman, Shai Parnes, said that since the 7 October Hamas attacks, violence against Palestinians in the West Bank by Israeli soldiers and settlers has reached record levels.

“It’s more radicalised, it’s more brutalised, it’s more extreme,” he said. “Since 7 October, more than 500 Palestinians have been killed – more than 100 of them minors – and every day there are invasions of Palestinian cities.”

Jenin has been a particular target for Israeli raids since the 7 October Hamas attacks, with more than 120 Palestinians – civilians and fighters – killed by Israeli soldiers there.

But armed men still patrol Jenin camp where fighters backed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad are based, and residents in the town say there’s no sign of the war subsiding.

“What the army doesn’t know is that resistance is an idea planted in the heart,” one resident said. “It won’t stop. If one is killed, five more will replace him.”

During an Israeli operation this week, bombs buried deep in the roads around the camp hit two units as they came in – killing one soldier and wounding 16 others.

This battle began long before the Gaza War, but tactics and attitudes here are shifting in its wake, and the behaviour of Israeli troops is under scrutiny in the West Bank too.

This is different territory to Gaza, but it’s the same enemies, locked in the same wider war.

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