Her picture was in the Israeli newspapers, the video in which the Israel Defense Forces dog is seen sinking its teeth into her arm was broadcast over and over again on the Arab television stations. Yusra Raba'ya was recovering at home this week in Abadiya, east of Bethlehem, after several days in Beit Jala's Al-Husseini Hospital. A flower arrangement sent by a Hamas member of parliament nearby, Raba'ya, 43 and the mother of 12, recounts the incident last Wednesday.
IDF undercover soldiers entered the village in the late morning hours, dressed like Arabs and driving cars that looked like the ones the locals drive. They were searching for Raba'ya's brother, Abu Malek. Raba'ya was in the fields picking chamomile to sell in the market. When the forces surrounded the family home, her daughter hurried out to get her.
Raba'ya approached the house, where negotiations for her brother's surrender were taking place. Using megaphones, the soldiers urged him to come out; neighbors offered to mediate. A bulldozer began demolishing the house, but the wanted man was not inside, Raba'ya says. An army dog with a camera attached to it entered the brother's house, which is next to hers. Another dog remained outside. It was not muzzled.
At one point, Raba'ya related, she approached the soldiers and suggested they go into the house to look for her brother. She was walking toward his house when the dog, which was loose, pounced on her, grabbing her left arm in its teeth. Raba'ya says that at first, when the dog sank its teeth into her arm, the soldiers just stood by and didn't intervene. Only after a few minutes did they grab the dog and free Raba'ya. She had an open wound on her forearm, above the wrist. The soldiers brought her to a military ambulance; her family later took her to the Al-Husseini Hospital. This week she was at home, her arm bandaged, receiving well-wishers. Raba'ya says she is very fearful now, and that she was never afraid of dogs before.
The IDF Spokesman released the following statement: "In the course of an action to arrest a wanted suspect in the village of Abadiya, the woman approached the force while shouting in an attempt to disrupt the action. After the soldiers repeatedly asked the woman to move away, the dog that was attached to part of the force attacked the woman. The soldiers immediately prevented a continuation of the attack and transferred the woman to the care of the Red Crescent. The IDF regrets any harm whatsoever to bystanders."
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