Israeli forces arrest Palestinian female journalist in Hebron
Two-year-old Yahya followed his mother Lama Khater to the front door of their house in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, trying to leave with her as she was arrested by at least 25 Israeli soldiers.
Khater paused, then knelt down to hug and kiss her toddler, before she was forcefully pulled by the soldiers who put her in an Israeli army jeep waiting in the dark outside.
Yahya began to cry as his mother walked away without him, and was picked up by his older sister Beesan who tried to comfort him, before being passed to his other sister Yaman – all to no avail.
"Around 1:30am on Tuesday, we heard a loud noise just outside our home," Beesan, 18, told.
Their home was then stormed by a large number of Israeli soldiers, who immediately informed the family of their intention to arrest Lama Khater. Most of the family was rounded up in a single room and only Yaman, 14, was allowed to help her mother pack her bag.
"My mother kissed each one of us goodbye, and advised us to take care of each other," Beesan said. "She told us she would be back soon."
Lama Khater, the 42-year-old mother of five, is a writer known for her articles published on the independent Noon Post website on crimes and violations committed by the Israeli occupation.
She was arrested two years ago, barely a month after giving birth to Yahya, and was subjected to long hours of interrogation regarding her writings before she was released on the same day.
Her husband, Hazem al-Fakhouri, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that he was summoned by Israeli forces five days ago for interrogation, who warned him that Khater would be arrested unless he pressured his wife to stop writing.
"I did not expect the occupation to follow through on their threats," he said. "My children and I were surprised to see the Israelis raiding our house in the middle of the night to arrest Lama without giving a reason.
"She is the very foundation of this household, our family, and we all rely on her," he added. "We don't know how we will continue with our lives now."
Hazem said his wife suffers from anaemia and has to take an assortment of medicines and supplements.
"We are very concerned about Lama; we do not know if the Israelis will permit her to keep her medicines and take them regularly," he said.
Beesan, who completed high school this year and had enrolled at Birzeit University near Ramallah, two hours north of Hebron, is now considering postponing her studies – where she had planned on majoring in nursing – and staying at home to take care of her siblings.
"I will not be able to stay away from home as long as my mother is not there," she said. "I'll have to stay at home and take care of my brothers and sisters. It's all my responsibility now."