Some 48 hours before the planned withdrawal of Israeli forces from the area of Tul Karm, an Israel Defense Forces unit took the trouble to commandeer a home in Atil - a nearby village that will also be handed over to the Palestinian Authority - and to imprison in one room a terminally ill cancer patient with her husband and nine children.
It took some 12 hours, and concerted efforts on the part of Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual and the Red Cross, before the IDF allowed the woman and her children to leave the house. Four or so hours later, at around 9:30 P.M., the IDF vacated the house, in the presence of representatives of the Civil Administration.
"I got up as usual last Saturday at 5:30 A.M. to prepare breakfast for my sisters and brother before they left for school," recounted the family's eldest daughter, Rozanne Kahala, not yet 16, to B'Tselem investigator Abd al-Karim Sa'adi, a resident of the same village. "I quit my 10th-grade studies some two months ago when my 35-year-old mother, Ra'ida, contracted cancer, so that I could look after my sisters and brother.
"Suddenly, we heard dogs barking in our neighborhood, in the eastern part of the village. My brother, Muaman, looked out the window to see why the dogs were barking and told us that soldiers had surrounded the house."
The Kahala home lies a few hundred meters from that of an Islamic Jihad wanted man, Luay al-Sa'adi.
"A few seconds later, I saw lots of soldiers, perhaps 30," Rozanne continued. "And they all came up to the second floor where we live. One of the soldiers ... spoke to my father in Hebrew. Then my father asked us to go into his and my mother's bedroom. Two or three minutes later, one of the soldiers asked my father to take us out the bedroom because they wanted to search it. My mother can't move at all. To move her, we pick her up on a plastic chair, or carry her on a mattress."
The father explained the situation to the soldiers, and the mother remained in her room. Two soldiers went in briefly, and then went into the children's room carrying two hammers. The knocking could be clearly heard, with the family to discover later that the windows of the room had been covered up - one with a carpet and the other with a blanket.
"About half and hour later ... the soldiers demanded that my father move my mother from her bedroom to our room ... Rimah, my 15-year-old sister, and my father and I sat her down on the plastic chair. She was screaming in agony. And that's how we carried her to our room."
Munzir, the father, asked the soldiers to allow the children to go to school, but they refused. According to Rozanne, one of the soldiers even said: "Today's Saturday, and there is no school on a Saturday."
The soldiers allowed Munzir and two of his daughters to prepare breakfast - under supervision.
The third request was one to use the bathroom. Four-year-old Perah was afraid of the soldiers and she was accompanied by her sister, Rimah. A soldier stood guard outside the door.
The soldiers then allowed the father to feed the family's sheep on the ground floor of the home, but not those in the barn some four meters away from the house.
Following lengthy contacts between Hamoked and military elements, a Red Cross ambulance arrived at the house at around 5:30 P.M. and took the sick mother to her parents' home. The children were allowed to join her; the father remained at the house.
B'Tselem investigator Sa'adi reported that the soldiers left the house clean and tidy.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now