Israel Won't Open Case Against Soldiers Who Kicked Out Arab Family From West Bank Picnic Ground

The military said it will make do with stressing guidelines, including 'the importance of the right to movement, in accordance with necessary security considerations'

Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf
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Screenshot from footage of the Arab family being kicked out of a park in the West Bank, in February.
Screenshot from footage of the Arab family being kicked out of a park in the West Bank, in February.Credit: Lubna Abed El Hadi
Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf

The Israeli military announced Thursday that it will not launch a criminal investigation into a February incident, where soldiers removed an Arab family from a West Bank picnic ground at the behest of Jewish settlers.

Human rights group Amnesty International sent a query to the Israel Defense Forces, seeking to know which actions were taken against the soldiers who kicked out the family. The military admitted in its response that soldiers' actions were improper, but said there was no need for a criminal probe.

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The military added that it will make do with drawing conclusions and refining its guidelines, including “the importance of the right to movement, in accordance with necessary security considerations.”

The family, its members all Israeli citizens, was having a picnic in the woods near the village of Jibya, north of Ramallah, when Zvi Ben Yosef, a settler from a nearby outpost, arrived and demanded that they leave.

Ben Yosef gathered the family’s things and called the army. Soldiers who arrived at the scene were filmed telling the family that “it’s forbidden to be here.” About a month later, Bar Yosef was filmed kicking another Arab family out of a nearby location.

Video of the incident near Kafr Jibiya and Zvi's Farm.Credit: Lubna Abed El Hadi

Amnesty International said in a statement that the army’s response is “shameful, absurd, unacceptable and invites more instances of kicking Palestinians out of public spaces, just because they are Palestinians, whether or not they are Israeli citizens."

The group added the military was trying to play down the severity of the case, which it dubbed "a hate crime in every sense."

"According to international law and the army’s guidelines, soldiers need to protect Palestinians who are being attacked on the basis of nationality in the framework of occupied territory and martial law," Amnesty stated. "Ignorance of the law does not exempt a civilian from punishment, in this case as well it does not suffice to ‘hone guidelines on the command level.’”

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