Five Palestinian women were forced to strip by IDF soldiers in Hebron during a raid on an apartment building in the city, Haaretz reported on Monday. The report sparked outrage among Palestinians, with militant factions threatening a response.
According to the report, Israeli soldiers raided the home of the Al-Ajlouni family in southern Hebron early in the morning on July 10 and arrested the family's eldest son.
During the raid, five women from the family were reportedly forced to remove their clothing: the mother of the family Afaf, her daughter Zeinab, and her daughters in law - Amal, Diala, and Rawan.
According to the five women, they were forced to enter the room of Amal's children living in the home one by one. Amal was forced to enter first and was ordered to remove her clothing in front of three of her small children who were woken by the raid.
Amal was first forced to remove loose clothing that covered her whole body. Despite remaining only in shorts and a tank-top and insisting that she couldn't hide anything in such clothing, the soldiers ordered her to strip completely, even threatening to release an attack dog on her.
Amal's mother-in-law was required to enter the room and remove her clothing next, followed by Diala, Zeinab, and Rawan. They were also threatened with the attack dog.
B'Tselem investigator Manal Al-Jabari told Haaretz that there are not many reports of women being completely stripped in military raids on Palestinian homes, but in recent months such incidents have increased.
Jabari stated that she herself was required to strip off all her clothing during a mass night raid conducted by the army in Hebron after the murder of Batsheva Nigri in a shooting attack near the city in late August.
Diala's husband, Harbi, has been in Israeli detention since the incident on suspicion of possessing a weapon. His arrest has been extended multiple times.
According to Haaretz, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit stated that an M-16, a magazine, and ammunition were found in the home. The women were forced to strip in a search conducted to ensure there were no further weapons in the home. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit added that the soldiers were not wearing cameras and while the dog had a camera, it was not operating at the time.
The IDF added that it had not received a complaint about the incident.
Palestinian factions: 'This crime is a dangerous escalation that we will not tolerate'
The reported incident sparked outrage on Palestinian social media and from Palestinian factions on Monday evening, with the factions threatening a response.
The Hamas terrorist movement stated that the reported incident "reaffirms that we are facing an entity that is devoid of all human norms and values, devoid of commitment to any of the international laws that protect peoples under occupation, while the international community turns a blind eye to the ongoing crimes of the occupation."
"The occupation government continues to advance its violations and escalate its crimes to a dangerous level that affects the honor and sanctity of the sons and daughters of our Palestinian people."
"We in Hamas affirm that this crime is a dangerous escalation that our Palestinian people, their resistance, and their living forces will not tolerate, and that all these crimes and violations committed by this fascist occupation against our Palestinian people aim to terrorize and intimidate them, and discourage them from continuing on the path of resistance. This will fall in the face of the steadfastness and determination of our people, and the blows of its heroic resistors, which will continue until the last soldier and settler are uprooted from our occupied land."
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad told Palestinian media that "the crime of assaulting women puts every Palestinian who carries a weapon before the duty of aiming this weapon at the chest and head of the occupation, and to avenge the free women against whom this serious violation occurred."
The Popular Resistance Committees condemned the alleged incident, warning that “the crime of the occupation soldiers against five women in Hebron will not go unpunished, and the enemy will pay the price for its foolishness.”
Fatah expressed outrage at the alleged incident, stating "The occupation’s practices against women in Hebron are a despicable crime that crossed red lines, and its perpetrators will pay the price, and the occupation government must bear full responsibility."
Youth groups in Hebron called for protests in the city on Tuesday afternoon in response to the reported incident.
The Lion's Den terrorist group in Nablus also published a statement condemning the incident, stating "Anyone who is silent about insulting our mothers, sisters, daughters, and free women is deprived of Palestinian citizenship and does not deserve to live on our blessed land. There is no room for flattery and respect for the feelings of those who do not respect their religion and their homeland."
"Here, the Lion's Den groups must have their final say, and our final word is only with guns and blood, at a time when the pretenders of masculinity rant about patriotism and redemption."
Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.