Israeli soldiers. Photo: Flickr/CPT Palestine Israeli soldiers. Photo: Flickr/CPT Palestine

Adnan Hamarsheh and his family were severely beaten in the latest attack they’ve faced at the hands of the Israeli military, reports Ellen Graubart

On the morning of May 15th 2020, in the village of Y’abad, in the northern part of the West Bank, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) smashed down the doors of the home of Adnan Hamarsheh and his family, and brutally attacked him, his wife, his 72 year-old mother, his two sons and his brother. Adnan, in spite of being wheelchair-bound, tried to defend his mother. The soldiers beat him over the head with rifle butts at least 35 times, wounding him seriously.

Assuming he was dead, they left the house. Luckily, though he was bleeding profusely from his injuries, he was not dead; he and the other injured members of the family were eventually taken to hospital by ambulance – another bit of luck, as medical care is very stretched in the West Bank, especially now with the coronavirus pandemic.

Being woken up in the night by soldiers breaking into their homes and attacked is a fear that Palestinians have been forced to live with for decades, but Adnan and his family have had to endure this nightmare not once, but twice. After the first break-in and attack – some years ago – the whole family was arrested and detained in various Israeli jails for long periods of time.

I met Adnan while on a Counterfire trip to the West Bank last year organised through CADFA*. Adnan and his family were extremely hospitable to us and he recounted the treatment his family has had to endure at the hands of the IDF and Israeli security services simply because he had been a member of the Palestinian political party Hamas. Though neither he or his family have committed a crime, they have been under near-constant surveillance and harassment from Israeli soldiers – when they haven’t been languishing in prison.

A few years prior, soldiers told Adnan that his wife was being raped by interrogators. He suffered a massive stroke as a result, was denied proper medical treatment and has been wheelchair-bound ever since. Within two days of his stroke he was sent back to prison.

There were no charges or trials, much of the time in prison under the Israeli military practice of “Administrative Detention” under which a Palestinian, including minors, can be arrested and jailed for effectively unlimited periods of time without evidence or trial. Adnan himself has spent 14 years in prison.

At the time we visited him, his son Anas who had just turned 18 was in prison, where he had been since he was 16. He suffers from a rare disease, perthes, which affects young people and causes disintegration of the hip joints, is extremely painful and requires needs urgent medical care. He received no medical care in prison. Adnan’s older son Omar who was 26 at the time was also in prison with his brother.

Adnan’s sons were only released from prison recently. They have only had a short time of relative peace together before this latest attack from the IDF which almost killed Adnan.

The horror that Adnan and his family continue to suffer is just one example of the brutal crimes the Israeli state continues to commit against the Palestinian population. Attacks and abuse of Palestinians by the Israeli Defence Force, arbitrary arrests of huge swathes of the population and especially children have been going on for decades.

As the Israeli government moves towards annexing huge parts of the West Bank with the blessing of Donald Trump, on the ground attacks on Palestinians by the military and illegal settlers, are becoming bolder, more vicious and more frequent. The attack on this particular family is devastating but it also reflects the experience of most Palestinian families living under Israeli occupation.

Adnan spoke to us from his wheelchair about their pain and anger at the injustices wrought against them by a state that is intent on eradicating them: we listened, and we heard their pain and anger. In the largeness of their hearts they were grateful for this, it seemed to be a comfort.

We have a duty to expose the crimes being committed by the Israeli state which our government supports unreservedly and continue to fight for justice and freedom for every single Palestinian.


*The Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association (CADFA) was established 16 years ago and organises trips to and from Palestine to help create awareness about how Palestinians are living and to foster international solidarity. You can sign up to support CADFA here.

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Ellen Graubart

Ellen Graubart was born in India of American parents and came to London from Virginia as a teenager to study art. She lives and works as an artist in Hackney. She is a member of Counterfire, Stop the War and Hackney Palestine Solidarity Campaign.