Bethlehem and around, Translation: Naomi Gal
This report is from two days of meetings with Palestinians from Hebron area.
We met a lot of trouble in each of our stops, and here are some of the things we heard:
1. Our friend Y. from Beit Ummar is in dire financial straits. His son A. 20-year-old entered without a permit Rahat and joined a group of Bedouin youngsters that went to “harvest grapes” around Rehovot, hoping that after a few days he could bring home some money. Border Policemen checked the group and found that A. had no permit to enter Israel. The contractor called his father and told him that the police "knocked his son to the floor, beat him over the head, hands, feet and heart (beating with a weapon), and took him," it’s unknown where to. This all happened on the Friday before Pentecost. The Center for the Defense of the Individual was closed, so it took two days to find out where he was. On the second day of the Holyday a policeman from Nitzan Prison in Ramla called the father and told him his son is there and that he will be released in the evening. But A. did not return home. The next day, a lawyer and the Center for the Defense of the Individual intervened, but there was some misinformation from the Nitzan Prison, A. called in the afternoon and said they released him at the Huwwara Checkpoint near Nablus, and he returned home to Beit Umaar using cabs.
After a day we asked Y. about his son, and he said: I took him to a hospital in Hebron; the doctor examined him and said everything is fine. Like everyone else. (Meaning: after some serious beating like everybody else gets, with no internal injuries). And so A. the cute guy we know since the age of 6, who went to work in Israel for the first time, passed successfully the initiation ceremony, and thus begins his adult Palestinian life. Like everyone else.
2. And so told us Said from the village Abidiye (Near Bethlehem), he is 45 years old and works in the industrial area of Atarot (Israel) regularly for the last two years. His permit is valid till 16.10.2015. On the 15.4.2015 when he returned from work at dusk, he climbed a cab in a square in Al-Azaria. In the cab were the driver, Said and two other passengers. At the checkpoint in Wadi Al-Nar they were inspected by a man in civilian clothes. Said says: "He was GSS." Said had a bag with pita bread and cakes for the children and the other passengers had bags too. When the man asked whose bags they are the other passengers denied the bags were theirs since in the other bags there “were drugs” as Said says. They were all taken to investigation and detention at Ofer detention center. The next day they released Said and the driver. The GSS man returned to Said everything: the money, the permit, the cellphone and the pastry bag and said: you are clean. You don’t have a trial. Said asked for a note saying he is clean. The GSS man said: no need for note, you are clean. Go in peace. The next day Said went to the checkpoint with the permit that was returned to him and they told him: you are police prevented. In the form he got from the policeman at Etzion DCL it says: limited entrance until 15/04/2019. In the criminal records ("reference of good character") we issued for him was written: Said has an open case on drugs not for personal use. His livelihood went out the window.
3. Muhammed from Beit Ula is GSS prevented and he told us:
In Act One Sylvia (from MahasomWatch) handled his case and filed an appeal against the prevention. The appeal was denied. Sylvia told him that he should not go to the court since his brother is in prison for security reasons. It seems that’s why they imposed on Muhammed the GSS prevention. You should file an appeal in a year, she advised. Writing an appeal by a typist in Hebron costs 50 ₪.
In Act II there is a lawyer named Haya, a settler from Givat Ze'ev, who comes regularly to the square in front of Rami Levy’s supermarket at Etzion junction and picks up Palestinian clients. Since hope is better than no hope, Muhammed heard about the lawyer Haya and went to ask if she could help. Haya said of course she can, that Moshe, her husband works for GSS and that he has connections. She said she is a good lawyer and will help in court. Muhammed gave ₪ 10,000 in cash to Moshe, who was sitting in a black Mercedes. He did not get any receipt. Muhammed told me all this at Nabi Yunis. He has a District Court protocol. Surprisingly, the lawyer who appealed in Muhammed’s name was Moshe and not Haya. In response to the appeal the court said that the classified information shows that there is "problematic security information about some of the brothers" of Muhammed, so there is a security concern also about Muhammed. The protocol says too that GSS agent in the trial, known as "Ramy", says that even in a year time an appeal will not help. Maybe in two years there will be a chance. Therefore, attorney Moshe withdrew the petition. Lawyer Haya brought Muhammed the paper and said: GSS were unrelenting in court. In a year make an appeal to the court. Exactly what Sylvia said. And between these two identical advices - 10,000 shekels were gone with the wind.
4. Daoud from Tarqumiya is prevented until 9.2015. The policeman in Hebron DCL told him: Make Istirham (merci, appeal) and they will drop the last three months. The policeman in Hebron told us too that when you submit an appeal toward the end of the prevention period, they shave off three months. We met Daoud today in Nabi Yunis. He went with us to the same policeman to get an answer on the appeal he filed by his advice. The answer: a refusal. He has to wait until the end of the prevention period.
5. A man from Nablus asked us on the phone where he could find his son. On Wednesday night they took his son, aged 19, from home. Since then he is looking for him and today is Monday already. We gave him the telephone number of the Center for the Defense of the Individual and thought: God forbid, if they took our children that way.