Sunday, June 28, 2009

Al-Safa, June 27, 2009

This, from my friend David Shulman, an activist in the Israeli-Palestinian peace group Ta'ayush, who has written widely about acts of witness in the South Hebron hills--including in this blog:

While Prime Minister Netanyahu scoffs at Ahmedinajad’s beatings of peaceful demonstrators, here is what happened yesterday, in broad daylight, at the village of al-Safa, inside occupied Palestinian territory. I am reporting the testimony of Dr. Amiel Vardi, and many other supporting testimonies. There is graphic photographic documentation, including a live video clip, which can be seen here. The pictures seen here are part of a series that can be viewed at this Flickr site.

Further photographic evidence will become available within the next day or two. (Israel has so far not resorted to blocking internet sites.) What Amiel reports is incontrovertible.

The activists arrived in the morning at al-Safa to accompany Palestinian farmers to their fields, since it is nearly impossible for these farmers to work their land without the physical protection of Israelis: violent settlers from nearby Bat 'Ayin invariably attack the farmers and chase them away. This time, however, the army and Border Police were waiting, in force—dozens of soldiers (the Border Police are part of the army), including two Brigade Commanders. As usual, they declared the area a Closed Military Zone.

But they also immediately arrested the activists and then attacked several of them brutally with fists, rifle butts, and other weapons. They rammed their heads repeatedly against the sides of the military jeeps (you can see this clearly on the Walla video). They severely beat the detainees while the latter were hand-cuffed and defenseless. Even worse, they continued to beat them while transporting them to the police station—stopping the jeeps on the way and attacking their helpless prisoners with clubs. One Palestinian activist, Yusuf Abu-Maria, suffered a broken leg. An Israeli activist, Sahar, had her armed savagely twisted, though fortunately not broken. Many were injured.

Incidentally, while this was going on, settlers from Bat 'Ayin set fire to Palestinian olive trees only a few hundred yards away; but of course the soldiers saw no reason to interfere.

This was not random violence. It’s the kind of thing that is directed routinely at Palestinian detainees, but this is perhaps the first time Israeli activists have been assaulted so brutally. The sense is that the Border Policemen were acting under direct, premeditated orders. The two Brigade Commanders—the senior officer in this zone, commander of the Etzion Brigade, and the commander of the Kfir Brigade— stood there overseeing the assault. Perhaps they had their orders from above. Internal Security in Israel is now under the direct control of the proto-Fascist party of Lieberman, the Foreign Minister.

Let no one claim that such things happen only in places like Iran but never in Israel. Let no one claim that Israel is an enlightened, free country, the very opposite of places like Iran. Let no one claim that the Israeli army is incapable of inhuman cruelty inflicted on innocent victims, whether they are Palestinian civilians or Israelis demonstrating peacefully against the occupation. Already now, as I write, the system Israel has put in place in the occupied territories is barbaric, in every sense of the word. Unless there is massive international pressure and effective protest, that system is not about to go away. Indeed, in the meantime, things are getting worse, on the ground, day by day.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

People will claim all those things that nobody should claim, and the day will come when they will say "I did not know" and their kids, your kids, my kids and the next generations of Israelis and Jews will live with the shame.

Shoded Yam said...

From todays Haaretz;

Second IDF soldier refuses to serve over violence towards Palestinians

By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent

"... A second IDF soldier has refused to continue following orders unless his complaints of violence toward Palestinians are investigated, Haaretz has learned. As with another infantry man from the same brigade - who was sentenced to 30 days in military prison last week after refusing to participate in his unit's operations in the territories"

"...A. told his friends that soldiers from the platoon acted with unusual violence toward the residents of the village. "We were sent to look for firearms, but didn't find any weapons," the soldier said. "So we confiscated kitchen knives. But what I was most shocked about was the looting. One soldier took 20 shekels. Soldiers went into homes and looked for stuff to steal."

A. also told of an assault on a mentally handicapped civilian. "He was just shouting at soldiers but then one soldier decided to attack him, so they beat the hell out of him - riffle butt to the head"."

"...A informed his commanders he will no longer participate in battalion activities, after which he was not court-martialed, but was transferred to guard and kitchen duty. A. then left for home - to be arrested and so to attract greater attention to his claims. He was sentenced to 17 days of detention for absenteeism by battalion commander Lt. Col. Ilan Dikstein, and upon completing the sentence was reassigned to maintenance works in a rear base of the brigade."

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1096048.html

These 2 guys, by virtue of their courage and integrity, are now by themselves the sole repository of the honor and decency of Zahal and The State of Israel. God Bless them.

Tamar Orvell said...

Keep reporting BRUTAL acts and facts. We need these witnesses to courageously be there and to tell what they observe.

Turn said...

Yeah, this happens all over the world.

fiddler said...

It does, doesn't it, Turn? I've no problem calling Sudan or Burma rogue states, but at least they have the decency (if you can call it that) not to claim to be cultural appendices of the West, the only democracy in NE Africa or S Asia, and having the most moral army in the world.

Well, I suppose anyone can make the latter claim so long as they first define "moral" accordingly.

Potter said...

This makes me want to scream. I am there in spirit. I would have been beaten too.

I wonder who the solders were that were sent, what is their background. They had to have been taught to hate like that- you don't learn that in a basic training.

The comparison to Iran ( as opposed to Pakistan) has been in my mind.

If things are getting worse by the day, maybe this is good- because like some Israeli's wishing for Ahmadinejad to prevail in order to make the case against Iran, these pictures and reports help the world to see what Israel's occupation is.

A friend in Israel said to us ( on a recent visit) "Sometimes I think that the next generation will wonder how we let this happen".

Stan said...

I do not know the background of the demonstration. I just watched the video supplied. I am assuming it was made by demonstrator's side. What I saw a relatively calm soldiers trying keep situation under the control with demonstrators standing right besides them and filming and taking photos.
There was not hate on either side. It looked to me more like photo op' to supply photos and videos for protesters future campaigns.
Can some one supply the information what is the land ownership and usage conflict based on in that area?

This is Ibn Verga

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