Spotlight highlights Checkpoint events characteristic of the policy of the occupation: the systematic repudiation of basic human rights in the occupied territories. For Palestinians, reality is a complicated tangle of problems (survival in the everyday, education, health, making a living…) that cannot be solved because the Israeli occupation is conducted by enforcing countless inhuman bans. The Spotlights rely on collections of relevant reports from the field.
Like Thieves in the Night
We were not eye-witnesses of the events described in this Spotlight.Some of them were described by the victims and others we heard about in the military courts that we monitor, and where we are ear-witnesses of Palestinians’ testimonies and renditions by representatives of the Israeli defense system of the arrest procedure, and see the witnesses and the incriminators. No wonder we could never witnesses the events themselves: the invaders venture forth in the dark of night, when no civilian eye (like ours) could possibly see them.
This is how the Israeli army invades the homes of Palestinian youngsters :
A news item on Israeli TV Channel 10 on 13.2.11
From the reports:
… A 14-year old boy was arrested at 2 o’clock in the morning on January 23rd, 2011, and violently taken from his home in the village of Nebi Saleh…
… Islam, after being forced away from his home, was held from 2 o’clock in the morning until 9 a.m., shackled and blindfolded in an army jeep. For the full report, click here
… He also complains about soldiers entering the village, day and night, and raising havoc… arresting children and adults.
The nightly raids of Israeli soldiers on Palestinian homes are often marked by verbal abuse and physical violence, vandalism and theft.
One o’clock at night… Soldiers banged on my house door. Ordered us to get out. My request to remain indoors because of the freezing cold outside was refused… When they began to search the house in my absence, I insisted on my right to be present. In vain. The argument lasted 45 minutes. All the while my wife, our four children and myself were shivering in our pajamas… The soldiers sowed destruction in all three stories of our home… While turning everything inside out, the soldiers were heard swearing. At 3:15 a.m. the soldiers left without a word. The house looked as if it had been through an earthquake. They didn’t find any arms. They invaded 10 homes that night… After the soldiers left, we realized that an expensive bracelet we own had vanished. For the full report click here )
Muataz Harfush, 18 years-old. He was 16 years-old when arrested and interrogated… He was arrested at home between 2 and 3 a.m. and taken to a place where he waited for many hours, hands shackled behind his back, blindfolded. For the full report click here
On arrest and house search night missions, not differentiating between adults and minors – ‘they’ are all considered terrorists a-priori – when everything is permitted and no one will bear responsibility for the action nor accountable for his deed for everything is done in the name of “the law”, the “messenger” becomes a well-oiled machine that spares him any soul-searching in real time.
Before the DCO closed, two men turned to us who had been summoned to report to the Shabak (GSS – General Security Services) – the authorities came to their home in the middle of the night, as is their habit, and ordered them to report the next day. For the full report, click here
For today’s session, 2 minors from Bil’in, witnesses for the prosecution, were summoned. To ensure their appearance at court for incriminating testimony, they were abducted from their homes in the middle of the night 8 days earlier. They were supposed to testify at the court session the next day but a lawyers’ strike broke out then, and no the court did not hold sessions. The defendant, out on bail, did not reach the court because Bituniya Checkpoint was closed to Palestinians traveling from the Occupied Territories. As a result, the two minors have remained in custody until now (we do not know whether they were released after testifying). For the full report, click here
In an attempt to use the “matzliach??” method, the prosecution sent army troops to bring to court another witness as the sides saw no point in interrogating the incriminating witness who was absent. The soldiers, then, entered Rima village at night, hauled the boy out of bed, arrested and brought him to court, shackled. For the full report, click here
The inconceivable ease of brute invasion of people’s most private, most intimate space makes it vulnerable and fragile. The repeated arrests, those carried out as well as those threatening every household, shatter traditional family structure, cast doubts and crack parental authority; a child can no longer trust his father to protect him from his ill-wishers; he can not longer rely on his mother’s sheltering lap.
No eye sees, no camera records the ruins of a child’s feelings. Out of such ruins, they will indubitably rise to settle their accounts.
… At the “Pharmacy” Junction, CPT volunteers report… that lately many nightly searches have been taking place, whereby children are caught and shackled. For the full report, see here
… Besides everything here occurs repeatedly: children being arrested – some say abducted – in the dark of night, as the army invades homes, scaring whole families out of their sleep, forces a father to wake his son and hand him over to the soldiers who fill the house. This scene takes place in hundreds of Palestinian homes every year. For the full report, see here
Perhaps, if the soldier or policeman, were to stop and think for a moment before they break in on a sleeping family, and if before locking the shackles on the wrists of their arrest victim they were to take a moment and see them as human beings and recall other moments in history, we might not be hearing this reply:
“But”, said the commander, “these are my orders. I am only obeying orders”… For the full report, see here
“A person might exert himself and not know, he can shut his eyes and refuse to open them, but the moment he has opened them, he can no longer erase what he has seen,
turn back time, nor pretend that he has heard does not exist.”
Spain/ Antonio Munoz Molina
Written by Tamar Fleischmann
Photographed by Dorit Hershkovitz – the remains of a vegetable stand on road no.
90 (Palestinian Jordan Valley) destroyed by the army, September 2009
Translated by Tal Haran