Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights have submitted a detailed letter of complaint to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, Ms Mary Lawlor, concerning the attack, arrest and military detention of the Palestinian human rights defender, Hafez Huraini. His urgent case is emblematic of the grave situation facing residents in the Masafer Yatta area of the occupied West Bank, which is at imminent risk of mass forcible transfer.
On 12 September 2022, a group of armed Israeli settlers from a nearby illegal outpost confronted Hafez Huraini on his land, leading to a violent assault that left him with two broken arms. He was subsequently arrested and deprived of his liberty under military detention for ten days by Israeli military authorities. He is currently on bail pending further investigations, and remains at serious risk of further deprivation of liberty under Israeli military detention.
Our complaint has principally been compiled based on primary source information specifically obtained by LPHR, including eyewitness evidence and video footage. We respectfully urge the UN Special Rapporteur’s consideration of our letter of complaint, and her intervention in this matter.
Hafez Huraini is a 52-year-old Palestinian farmer from at-Tuwani, a village in the Masafer Yatta (otherwise known as the ‘South Hebron Hills’) area of southern Hebron, in Area C of the West Bank, within the occupied Palestinian territory. Palestinian communities in Masafer Yatta are recognised by UN agencies and leading UN officials as being at imminent risk of mass forcible transfer, following a decision by Israel’s Supreme Court on 4 May 2022 that sanctioned the expulsion of all residents, to make way for Israeli military training. Full details can be read in our complaint.
LPHR classifies Hafez Huraini as a Human Rights Defender due to his activities as a land rights defender and leader of the South Hebron Hills Popular Committee, a non-violent resistance group established in 2000 in response to the extension of illegal Israeli settlements and the coercive environment created in Masafer Yatta. Two of his children, Sami and Sameeha Huraini, are co-founders of Youth of Sumud, an initiative established in 2017 to peacefully resist Israeli occupation and illegal Israeli settlements in the region. The Huraini family has been repeatedly targeted for arrest, military detention and home raids by Israeli authorities. They have also been subject to harassment and intimidation from Israeli settlers, who have burnt trees and harvests on their land.
LPHR take the view that the 12 September attack and subsequent arrest and military detention of Hafez Huraini, combined with the previous Israeli military authorities targeting and multiple attacks against him and his family, cannot be divorced from the Huraini family’s prominence as human rights defenders and is symptomatic of a shared culture of intimidation and coercion between settlers and the authorities against them and their community in Masafer Yatta.