Three 9-10 years-old kids from the village of Orief south of Nablus were kidnapped by armed Israeli settlers Monday and taken into Yetzhar settlement. An IMEMC correspondent visited the village, met the kids and their parents, and came back with the following report.
Nidal Yosif Shehada, 10, looked very tired as he entered his home after being held together with his friends, Mohammed Safadi 9, and Abed Shehada 11, by settlers in the nearby Yetzhar settlement.
Nidal told us Ã¢â‚¬Å“we were playing in the fields as usual when a group of armed settlers attacked us and took us and locked us inside a Caravan in the mountain close to Yetzhar settlement. They forced us to take off our clothes and lay down with our faces to the ground. Then they blind folded us with a piece of cloth and started beating us with their guns. We were scared to death.Ã¢â‚¬Â When we asked him how far the fields they played in were, he said not more than 10 meters away from the last home in the village.
Abed, who looked pale, was more shocked and as he said, felt very humiliated by being stripped of his clothes and the dirty words settlers said to him.
NidalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s father told us that this was not the first time in which armed settlers kidnapped kids while playing in the villageÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fields. He told us about an attempt to kidnap six kids that happened a week before. He added that the kidnapping attempt failed because parents were informed and rushed to the fields.
NidalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Father added that more kidnapping and beatings of young Palestinian kids occurred in the adjacent villages Ainyabous, Boreen, and Howarah. He asked us to visit these villages and listen to their stories.
NidalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s neighbor Mahmoud said that Yetzhar settlers constantly terrorize the residents of neighboring Palestinian villages. He said that in addition to Ã¢â‚¬Å“kidnapping our kidsÃ¢â‚¬Â settlers make their own check points. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They stop cars and search people under the eyes of the armyÃ¢â‚¬Â he added.
Abed, who looked the most mature among the three, said that they were treated as if they were grown up fighters with guns. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I felt ashamed when the forced us under the threat of their arms to take off our clothesÃ¢â‚¬Â
The head of the village council said that the settlers who kidnapped the kids were wearing military uniforms, which means that they either belong to the settlement guards unit or are serving in the army.
Mohammed told us that the settlers did not allow him to use the toilet. Ã¢â‚¬Å“After 8 hours they offered us some food, but we refused and said that we wanted to go back to our homesÃ¢â‚¬Â Mohammed added.
NidalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mother told us that as time passed and it became dark, ‘I was scared to death for the safety of Nidal and his friends.’ She added Ã¢â‚¬Å“we informed every one we knew including the army officer in the region who promised us to bring them backÃ¢â‚¬Â
Finally, Nidal told us how this story ended. He said Ã¢â‚¬Å“at 11:30 p.m. settlers woke us up and put us inside a car which drove us to the entrance of our town where we were set freeÃ¢â‚¬Â
While no reason for these kidnapping has been given, Safadi said he thinks it can only be Ã¢â‚¬Å“because we are Palestinians, that is why.Ã¢â‚¬Â In this often irrational conflict, there may be a poignant level of wisdom included in his Safadi’s last statement.