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Between violent reprisal and random police brutality

M., a resident of the West Bank village of Al-Ma’asara, was attacked by Border Policemen solely for living in a village that actively opposes the occupation.

By Yesh Din (written by Yossi Gurvitz)

One morning in early August, M., a resident of the West Bank village of Al-Ma’asara, went to Ramallah for medical treatment. He took a public taxi back home. At one point, the taxi reached the Container Checkpoint, which was manned by a Border Policeman.

The cop asked for the Palestinian’s ID card, as per protocol. He took a long time examining M.’s card, then ordered him off the vehicle. As M. climbed down, the policeman slapped him without any provocation. He tried to slap him again but M. blocked the blow. Then another Border Policeman arrived, and according to M.’s testimony, the two of them dragged him aside and beat him repeatedly. When the taxi driver tried to intervene, he was informed it would better for him to return to the vehicle, or he would get a beating as well.

The reason for the beating? Nobody told M. anything, but the goons who assaulted him used the name “Ma’asara” time and time again. Al-Ma’asara is one of the villages that holds a rather peaceful demonstration every Friday. These protests must be dispersed by Israeli forces, which hinders their going home for the weekend. M. noted that Border Policemen regularly take part in dispersing the demonstrations, which led him to believes that this was the reason why the picked him as a victim.

It is important to note that M. was not arrested or suspected of anything. He merely became a victim of random police brutality. Had there been any evidence against him, he would have been detained, held for a time without seeing a lawyer, then asked to sign the usual Faustian deal by which he would be released without waiting for the end of the legal process, but would do so by confessing to something which he is not at all clearly guilty of.

M. estimates he was attacked just because of his place of residence. If this is the case, and we can’t know for certain, this behavior cannot be considered as anything but reprisal by people that are supposed, theoretically, to be sworn to protect the law – an assault on an uninvolved person in order to “send a message” to his village.

Why can’t we know? Because M. won’t complain to the police, and without a complaint there will not be an investigation. Why won’t he complain? Because he’s intelligent enough to be familiar with the Israeli investigative organs and the way they act to realize nothing will come of his complaint. A second reason is that he is afraid that if he complains, he will lose his entry permit to Israel.

As far as M. is concerned, not only is the police (which is supposed to protect him) becoming a part of the daily terror used against him; the very act of complaining of the abuse will, he estimates, will harm his ability to make a living. We don’t know if this fear is grounded in fact; we hear of it from a lot of Palestinians, but we lack actual documentation of such an act. Not that lack of documentation diminishes the fear.

This was a quick look at the quiet terror regime in the occupied territories, carried out on a daily basis with Israeli citizens’ agreement and funding. The next time the IDF Spokesman speaks of “disturbances of order ” think of M. and the beating he took, and of his fear of trying to actualize his rights. This is the order that it protects.

Written by Yossi Gurvitz in his capacity as a blogger for Yesh Din, Volunteers for Human Rights. A version of this post was first published on Yesh Din’s blog.

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    1. aristeides

      Waiting for the right-wing complaints it’s more important when someone attacks a Jew.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Today the 99 years old Palestinian Sabri Freij Errajabi was arrested in Hebron.
      He probably threw a stone 80 years ago.

      Reply to Comment
      • Vadim

        Not only is he 99 years old, he is also pregnant and was on his way from school to buy candy.

        Reply to Comment
    3. The Border Police will not be subject to reprimand. They are not there to protect local residents but pacify them. The only check on their behavior is a varying sense of decency which requires on sight notice to exist. Just don’t make me notice what you are doing and everything is fine.

      It happened in the US, South Africa, and much of the world unto this day. But Israel knows better and could do better. The elites do not want to do better.

      M is a subject of occupation. He has no rights because he has no redress. He is not a person, but an animal to be herded into passivity. This is what humans have done throughout history. The rule of law, at its best, tries to push this back.

      Jews suffered this behavior for centuries. Now the Jewish State gets to inflict it. There is no need. Oversight could be implemented. A decision not to defines, in part, what it means to be Israeli. A political and ethical choice of what the State is. I guess this is what Israel wants to be.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Danny

      With every passing day, Israel, by its own words and deeds, is making to path forward that much clearer: BDS is the way forward. Just like in South Africa two decades ago, nothing else will make Israel change, except for real popular international intervention. I, for my part, have made my choice: I fully support BDS!

      Reply to Comment
      • Marcos

        Dear Danny, it was not BDS that drove political change in South Africa. It was Mandela’s choice, after losing Soviet support for his ANC party, to change direction and negotiate with the powers that were. Thank me later, and enjoy your Jaffa Oranges! And don’t forget to relax more.

        Reply to Comment
      • Average American

        I am happy to see individuals take action. You may boycott oranges and clothing. But weapons manufacturers aren’t going to boycott Israel. American “foreign aid” is big business. The aid comes from the wallets of the American people whether we like it or not, is given to Israel whether we like it or not, and Israel spends it right back to mainly American weapons manufacturers. It is a cycle of corporate welfare at the expense of the average American.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Average American

      This is so sad. It’s bringing back memories of sad times in my own country, USA, when we would treat black people like this. Like objects. Insects under a glass. Dogs on a leash. Free under our laws at the time to torment them for our entertainment. Lynchings as messages to other blacks. Kids beaten up by white kids after school. “White Only” drinking fountains. Adult whites making jokes about blacks in their presence, daring them to react. Ho-hum attitude given to any black’s court case. Israel should try to avoid our mistakes not repeat them.

      Reply to Comment