MachsomWatch Alerts - January 2008 | Machsomwatch
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MachsomWatch Alerts - January 2008

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Sunday, 24 February, 2008

WE HAVE NOW BEEN STANDING VIGIL AT THE CHECKPOINTS FOR SEVEN YEARS

 

Four-and-a-half years have gone by since we began to issue our special alerts - the monthly summary of the goings-on in the very back yard of the State of Israel.

Our reports clearly reflect the collective punishment policy exercised in the West Bank. Bureaucratic stranglehold and restriction of movement critically disable Palestinians from living their everyday lives. The acute damages to livelihood, education, healthcare services and democratic community life comprise merely the tip of the iceberg at this time in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The expression "fabric of life" does not begin to relate to the trampling of Palestinians' human rights, dignity and freedom.

Van Leer Institute recently held a conference (February 13, 2008) on the subject of the checkpoints. The participants - mostly retired senior army officials some of whom had taken active part in the creation of the checkpoint apparatus - now all realize that this system's harm far exceeds any advantage they were aiming to achieve.

In recent weeks, we have witnessed time and again soldiers brutalizing Palestinians at Beit Iba Checkpoint. Having beaten the Palestinian, the soldier then accuses him of the very same assault:

A soldier pushes an elderly man trying to reach the detaineesinfo-icon' pen and forces him into the waiting line. The Checkpoint commander uses his rifle to hit a Palestinian lying on the floor of the pen. We approach and see it is the commander who is beating and kicking him. This was finally stopped as a result of the DCO representative's interference. The man forced into the line is the brother of the beaten victim. The soldiers claim that the Palestinian slapped the soldier as they argued. Palestinian eye-witnesses did not see any slapping. The DCO officer summons an ambulance and two paramedics need to treat the young man for about an hour, then helping him into the ambulance. The paramedic said the man has just undergone surgery and the beating may have damaged his scars.

During the same shift, the pushing soldier is constantly rough and rude, yells incessantly and occasionally punishes for no reason at all other people undergoing checks. (23.1)

 

A violent incident took place at the checkpoint, whereby the commander smashed a car's windshield. The car was standing at a 'no parking' area and the driver claimed he wasn't aware of being ordered to stop. (12.2)

 

12:00 - A cab driver who approached passengers at the checkpoint to offer them a ride was hit in his head by the soldiers and his hand was fractured. After being sent to the detainees' pen he was bandaged by a military medic. At 17:30 he was still being detained in the pen on grounds that the police was to come take him for questioning as he is charged with assaulting a soldier. A detention warrant has been issued for him for 69 hours - the maximum the law allows. He has not had anything to eat or drink since noon, his eyes are reddened and he is clearly in pain, and has not been allowed to use the toilet. We later found out the man was further held at the checkpoint until midnight. An ambulance then arrived and delivered him to Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus, where he was hospitalized with a fractured hand and headaches.

The wounded man's ID remained with the soldiers. When family members arrived the next day to take back his ID, they were told that since charges are being pressed against him for assaulting a soldier, his ID will not be returned.

Upon his release from the hospital he approached the checkpoint to get his ID, and was told to get it at the DCO. A call to the DCO informed him that his ID was not there. The man tried to get to the DCO himself, but having no ID, he was not allowed through the checkpoint... (13.2)

 

At 14:00 a young man from Nakura was taken off a bus by two soldiers, and after arguing they began to beat him accusing him of assaulting a soldier. He was forced to stand in the pouring rain, and shivering in the cold he called a human rights organization representative asking to save him "before he dies here". At 20:00 he was not yet released, and then there was no more contact with him. The next day we were informed that he was held in the detainees' pen until 22:00. He testified that after the officer left the checkpoint, soldiers came and beat him up again. (14.2)

 

In all the cases described above, Palestinians are accused of assaulting the same soldiers who beat them. This phenomenon has been observed repeatedly at Beit Iba Checkpoint. No such "violations" as they are described can possibly justify such violence and harassment on the part of soldiers.