In the early morning on Saturday November 7, 2015, soldiers knocked on the door of the Youth Against Settlements (YAS) center in Hebron. Italian journalist, Francesca Borri, and German activist, Lukas Wiehler, who had spent the night in the center, urgently called YAS coordinator, Issa Amro. The soldiers stated that the house would be a military outpost for 24 hours, with possible extensions. The soldiers confiscated all keys to the center. Fearing that the soldiers had come to arrest him, Issa Amro waited for Israeli activists from Jerusalem to join him in support. Issa and the Israeli activists arrived at the center about 7 a.m., but the Israeli activists were prevented from entering with Amro. Amro however taken into the kitchen and harshly questioned about his whereabouts and where the group had hidden its ‘guns’. “Go and search”, Issa Amro replied, “We have hundreds of ‘guns’ – in form of cameras; cameras are our weapons”. “Don’t play with me”, the soldier replied, “I will shoot you.” Soldiers then confiscated Amro’s phone and laptop and pushed him into one room downstairs together with the international journalist and activist who had spent the night in the center. Immediately after the internet was shut down and all connections to the outside world were severed for Amro and the Internationals.
While nobody from the group was allowed to leave the downstairs room, soldiers rummaged through the center. Lukas Wiehler, was released about lunchtime due to diplomatic pressure by the German embassy. About 2 p.m., a crowd of YAS supporters, neighbors, and journalists started to gather outside the center. Hundreds of illegal settlers also arrived on the scene and started to violently attack those who had gathered. The army supported the settlers, firing excessive amounts of teargas and rubber bullets at the supporters, neighbors, and journalists. A live broadcast was violently interrupted. The video can be seen here:
Four YAS activists, Ahmad Amro, Mohannad Azzeh, Ali Amro and Zidane Sharabati, who had gathered outside managed reach the house, and were dragged inside and locked up downstairs with Amro, Bori, and Wiehler. The soldiers stated that they were being held captive for their protection. Their phones were also confiscated. The soldiers continued not to act to disperse the Illegal settlers outside. Throughout the afternoon hundreds of illegal settlers continued to gather in hundreds around the center, celebrating the takeover of the house, chanting “Death to the Arabs.” A number of them were even allowed by the soldiers the house. The Israeli activists who had accompanied Amro tot the center were earlier in the morning continued not to be allowed to enter the house to provide help. Inside the center the situation remained extremely tensed. The people being held captive inside the house were prevented from using the bathroom and kitchen without special permission from the soldiers whose granting of permission seemed to depend on the mood of the soldiers. One of the soldiers, who identified himself a settler, stated to Amro, “This action is because you are filming and spreading lies about Israel.”
Despite all protests outside from supporters, neighbors, and journalists, and despite announcements that the soldiers would soon leave, the siege continued through the day and into the night. Around 9 PM, the people held in the center heard soldiers violently ransacking the upstairs media center and climbing on the roof to remove the Palestinian flag. Throughout the night Amro, Borri (who chose not to leave), Amro, Azzeh, Sharabati feared for their lives. The soldiers finally left at 5 AM the next morning, announcing that they would come back the following day to again take over the house.
After the army left, YAS members assessed the damage to the media center. Furniture, cameras, laptops, hard disks, memory cards, and other media equipment had been destroyed or stolen amounting to over $1,500 in losses for the organization.