I am not a toy in your hands

 These words are written by Mohammed Hureini, a Palestinian activist from Masafer Yatta (South Hebron Hills), after he was unjustly arrested on August 5th, 2023, while grazing on his land.

I was grazing our sheep when a group of illegal Israeli settlers invaded our land and started harassing me. They also had some sheep that they unleashed to graze in our land. When I tried to stop them, they called the Israeli army, who immediately came. The army had already prepared a military order entailing that our private land is a closed military area before they joined the settlers. To enforce the military order, which only applies to us, the Israeli commander notified us that we have to leave the land within a few minutes.
I refused and insisted that the settlers should leave our land first. Israeli soldiers responded by handcuffing and blindfolding me. The Israeli commander tightened the handcuffs to hurt me and tried to humiliate and provoke me. I shouted at him and said, “What are you doing? I am not a toy in your hands to treat me like this.” He replied, “Shut up!”
At around 8.00 PM they took me to the military base near the village of Susiya. I could find out about this through a hole that was in the piece of cloth covering my eyes. When we arrived in the military base, they threw me in a yard, where there was a soldier watching me.

I was saying to myself that tonight I will be humiliated and harassed a lot. Indeed, Israeli soldiers started gathering around me, speaking in Hebrew, a language I barely understand and laughing. It seems that they were making fun of me. After that, the commander who arrested me said in English, “You now see what I can do; you are now at my mercy and no one knows where you are at the moment.” After finishing his sentence, he hit my head with his hand thinking that I will not react out of fear from him, but I screamed at him saying, “Don't touch me!”.
The other soldiers who were gathering forced me to lie on the ground for two hours. Whenever I tried to get up, they would prevent me. Two hours later, a soldier came and said, “We will let you go but tomorrow at 10.00 AM, you should come to the police station in Kirvat Arabaa' Hebron” to interrogate me. I didn't reply to what he said and he left. At that moment I realized that they will release me after midnight.
They made me wait for hours until I lost my patience and started screaming, “Release me now. What are you doing?”
One of them replied, “This is the consequence for what you did today.” I replied, "I will not shut up and I didn't do anything wrong today.” I kept shouting at them until two soldiers came and put me in the military jeep. At around 2.00 AM, they released me at the entrance of the Susiva settlement (built on land stolen from the Palestinian village of Susiya). I asked them to drop me somewhere close to my home as this area is dangerous to me because settlers might attack me. Of course, they rejected my request.
I suspected that this is part of a coordinated plan with settlers in the area to brutally assault me after my release. I had no other choice but to walk on bypass road 317, a distance of about five kilometers. I was so nervous and scared while walking. I was also very exhausted, hungry and thirsty. Once I arrived home, I had some food, water and rest before going to the interrogation at 10.00 AM.
Sami, my older brother, accompanied me to the interrogation center in Kiryat Arbad' settlement. We both waited at the gate of the settlement until someone opened it.
They put me in a small room.
I waited for a while until an Israeli officer, whose face I could recognize but I didn't remember his name entered the room. He interrogated me a few times in the past. I was surprised that he didn't start interrogating me, but he said in threatening manner, “You are known as a trouble-maker. I will release you this time, but I assure you that if you make any problems next time, you will pay an expensive price.”
I replied to him, “First, I am a human being who has the right to access his land, graze his sheep and cultivate it, not a trouble-maker. My duty and right are to defend it. I will not let anybody to damage or take it over. You know very well who the trouble-makers are. They [the settlers] assault us constantly. You know this well as my dad filed complaints against them several times, but you did nothing to stop that. This shows how much you are biased towards the fanatic settlers. If you don't stop them, you will see me here every day.” The officer got outraged and said, “Get out of here and we will meet in the upcoming days.” I said, “I am sure we will both sit around this interrogation table again.” I left with a sense of pride and power.
I am back to my home now and will continue the fight I started to defend our right and land, which I started when I was only 13. I will not give up no matter what they do.

Friends, thanks for your support and care and I am proud of you.