What is the occupation like?
Israel’s belligerent military occupation of West Bank land and Palestinian lives continues in full force, with all its terrible arbitrariness.
Arbitrariness is one of the main characteristics of the Israeli occupation, as is often said by the Israeli women who do the volunteer reporting that is the work of their organization, Machsom (Checkpoint) Watch
It often comes down to one lower-mid-ranking Israeli soldier, with his personal mood on that day and at that particular moment, and a sense that he is in power, that the Palestinians are dangerous but annoying children who definitely have less status and almost no rights, and anything can happen — as Machsom Watch shows in a brand-new report:
Last Sunday [27 March] at Jaba (or Jaba’a) checkpoint – between the cul-de-sac that Qalandia checkpoint has become for Palestinian residents of this tiny corner of the earth in the West Bank, and the intersection straddled by the Israeli settlement of Adam:
“The transcript of Roni’s conversation with the checkpoint commander:
- “Why is the young man sitting here in handcuffs?”
- “He is a suspect.”
- “What is he suspected of?”
- “I’ll send him off in a moment”.
- “So he isn’t a suspected anymore?”
- “No, he is a suspect!”
- “Then how do you know that he isn’t suspected of anything anymore?”
- “I get my orders from above”.
- “Did you send his ID number to some sort of an institution for examination?”
- “No. I’ll send him off home in a moment…”
Sitting near the checkpoint was a man, he was leaning against the wall, his eyes were covered by cloth and his hands were pulled back, strapped tightly in plastic handcuffs.
From the evidence we gathered it seems that the arrest of this person was a local initiative and not an order from above. There was no ‘bingo’ and we also didn’t hear the most common alibi, which can never be confirmed: ‘The suspect is requeste’ for interrogation by the GSS’ [Israel's General Security Services, or Shin Bet or Shabak]. The evidence to the fact that the soldier didn’t really have a reason to keep this person at the checkpoint is that the young man’s ID wasn’t there and his personal background wasn’t checked. It was probably an incidental arrest, the victim was taken from his home that afternoon by the Nahal soldiers who man the checkpoint. What for, and why? – Was it just for their plain amusement? – For the sake of the actual abuse? Or perhaps, they did it out of boredom, of which the soldiers at the checkpoints regularly complain?
It was clear from the person’s pose that he was in agony.
He stood with his back arched in an attempt to ease the pressure. The overly tight plastic handcuffs cut into his flesh, causing a swelling that made it hard to release him. The soldiers tried to insert a knife between the cuffs and his flesh for over ten minutes, but there wasn’t a crack to be found, as if they were of one flesh.
The soldiers wanted the man to be quiet, and quiet he was. He just stomped his feet as the pain from the insertion of the knife became hard to bear. When he was finally released and sent off, he was told not to speak to us. The young man exposed his hands before our cameras, mumbled a couple of words and ran away down the hill towards the village
Because of two Jewish women who had arrived there by chance at the right time, the man had been released on this occasion. Who will protect him and the many others like him on other occasions, other days, and who will be there at the dead of night?”