“Israeli soldiers held me captive for eight hours in the hot summer sun,” says Sami Huraini as he narrates how he was arrested and harassed by the Israeli occupation yesterday, June 28.
Sami, who is a grassroots organizer and co-founder of Youth of Sumud, a grassroots youth group based in Masafer Yatta was detained by the Israeli occupation forces while on his way to Jinba. “I wanted to go and stand in front of Israeli military jeeps and tanks to stop the military exercise on my people’s land there as I and others always do,” Sami explains.
On June 21, the Israeli occupation forces started military exercises in threatened villages in Masafer Yatta, including Jinba, Al-Markez and Al-Majaz. The military training, which will continue for two more weeks is part of Israeli intensified ethnic cleansing practices to force over 1000 Palestinians from their homes in Masafer Yatta.
Sami asserts that the military training is part of Israeli efforts to impose facts on the ground that Masafer Yatta is indeed a firing zone as decided by an Israeli court decades ago. This decision was confirmed by Israeli apartheid courts again on May 4, 2022, when the court ruled in favor of forcibly expelling hundreds of Palestinians from their ancestral land.
With their fingers on the triggers of their guns ready to shoot Sami, Israeli soldiers held him in a military base near Jinba for eight hours without food or water.
Last week, Sami received threats from Israeli soldiers warning him against organizing actions against the military training and other ethnic cleansing measures. Yesterday, “they translated their threats into action.”
Targeting activists who support threatened people on the ground and convey their voices to the world is part of Israeli efforts to totally isolate Palestinians living in the targeted villages. Israel is systematically attacking grassroots organizing in Masafer Yatta. Earlier this month, on June 13, Youth of Sumud received a final demolition order of the activist center in Al-Tuwani, where activists meet and organize for popular actions.
Restricting the movement of activists is expected to extend to the residents of the villages themselves in the upcoming weeks.
The Israeli occupation has already started putting limits on the movement of the inhabitants of the villages, albeit on a smaller scale. Yesterday, while he was detained, Sami witnessed how Israeli soldiers stopped some Palestinian farmers from going to their homes, where the military training is being carried out for hours.
For Sami this is not the first, and will not be the last time he is detained by the Israeli occupation authorities.
Last year, Sami was held in custody for a week following his participation in a peaceful protest in the village of Al-Rakeez. The demonstration was organized in response to Israeli shooting of 24-year-old Haroun Aram in the neck in January 2022. Haroun, who is from Al-Rakeez, was trying to stop Israeli soldiers from confiscating a power generator that belongs to his family. The Israeli bullet that penetrated Haroun’s neck has resulted in the paralyzation of the movement of his four limbs forever.
Israeli intimidation and harassment of Sami, he says, “will not stop us from supporting our people in Masafer Yatta.”