For telling the truth about Louise Ellman, I face expulsion from the Labour Party
On 6th January 2016 there was a debate in the House of Commons on Child Prisoners and Detainees: Occupied Palestinian Territories introduced by Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham. In her introduction to the debate Ms Champion described how, in June 2012, a delegation of British lawyers published a report on children held in Israeli military custody. It barely needs stating that it referred to non-Jewish Palestinian children. The Report was facilitated and funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
It found that Israel was in breach of six of its legal obligations under the UN convention on the rights of the child and two obligations under the fourth Geneva convention. The report also concluded that if allegations of abuse referred to the delegation were true, Israel would also be in breach of the absolute prohibition against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
What we are talking about here is torture against children, a war crime.
Ms Champion explained that 8 months after the UK report was published, UNICEF released its own assessment of the military detention system for children. After reviewing over 400 sworn affidavits from children detained in a system that allows the prosecution of 12-year-olds in military courts, UNICEF concluded that:
“the ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process, from the moment of arrest until the child’s prosecution and eventual conviction and sentencing”.
In February 2015 UNICEF issued an update to its original report and noted that allegations of ‘ill-treatment of children during arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention have not significantly decreased in 2013 and 2014”.
Paula Sherriff MP for Dewsbury, intervened to explain how she had visited the West Bank with Ms Champion in September 2015 and was briefed by Military Court Watch. She asked a most relevant question:
Does my hon. Friend share my concern at the significant disparity between treatment of Palestinian and Israeli young people, including lack of legal representation and parental support, allegations of widespread abuse and having to sign confessions in Hebrew, among many others?
Or to put it bluntly, why is it that Israeli Jewish children and Palestinian children are treated differently? Why do Jewish children from the settlements have a parent or legal advisor with them at all times? Why are they rarely if ever incarcerated in detention? Why was the age of criminal responsibility for Israeli children 14 until recently (they changed it in order to imprison a Palestinian child living in Jerusalem). Why are Palestinian children forced to sign confessions in a language that they don’t understand?
The late Jo Cox MP, who was murdered by Thomas Mair, a fascist supporter of Britain First also contributed to the debate:
‘I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. She will be aware that evidence from Military Court Watch suggests that 65% of children continue to report being arrested at night in what are described as terrifying raids by the military. Will she comment on that worrying fact?’
Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside and a Zionist made 3 contributions on behalf of the Israeli military and the Jewish Labour Movement, of which she is Vice-President:
‘My hon. Friend makes an important point, but does she accept that the context in which these situations occur is an organised campaign conducted by the Palestinian authorities of incitement, to try to provoke young Palestinians to carry out acts of violence towards other civilians, some of which result in death, including the death of young children?’
In fact this is a total lie. The Palestinian Authority is considered by most Palestinians as a Quisling authority which works openly in coordination with the Israeli security. It has been compared by for example Electronic Intifada to Marshall Petain’s regime in France during the second world war. All Ellman is doing is repeating the talking points of the Israeli far-Right.
What she is really saying is that Palestinians, children and adults, would be perfectly happy with their lot and no doubt greet their occupiers profusely but for the ‘incitement’ of the Palestinian Authority and others. Anyone at all acquainted with Israel’s military occupation knows this for the fiction it is. It is like saying that the Nazi occupiers of France would have been welcomed by the French but for the Resistance.
Yet this racist nonsense is accepted, without a quibble, by the witch-hunters of Labour’s Compliance Unit who believe that calling Ellman what she is, a disgusting racist apologist for Israel’s war crimes is a disciplinary offence. They even produce ‘evidence’ from opinion polls by the far-Right Zionist organisation, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism in order to ‘prove’ my guilt.
|The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism which Labour's 'Investigators' Cite as a Neutral Source is a Far-Right source which has submitted a complaint of 'anti-Semitism' against Jeremy Corbyn. Iain McNicol considers the CAA a useful source of information|
The CAA, like Labour’s witchhunters is an anti-Corbyn group. It has no less than 112 references at the latest count to him, none of them flattering. One of them consists of a complaint made about Corbyn’s ‘anti-Semitism’. No doubt if Crooked McNicol, Stolliday and the rest of them had their way, Jeremy Corbyn would also be suspended! This however is the organisation that my witch-hunters have used in ‘evidence’ against me.
The CAA, a bogus charity that is currently the recipient of a complaint to the Charity Commission, consistently calls Labour ‘racist Labour’. Doing a search on their web site I came up with no less than 60 references to ‘racist Labour.’
Ellman made two further contributions to the debate on Israel’s abuse and torture of Palestinian children. At no point did this apologist for Israel’s military rule condemn or even criticize Israel’s behaviour.
‘Does my hon. Friend really believe that the solution to this horrendous conflict between two peoples—the Israeli and the Palestinian people—can be found by encouraging individual child Palestinians to commit acts of violence against other human beings?’
In other words the blame for violence is put on the children not on those who raid their homes at night. Ellman knows that the Israeli soldiers are innocent because, being a racist, she automatically assumes that being Jewish, the Israeli military is above criticism. The idea that in a regime of ongoing martial law and occupation that violence is part and parcel of the system of military rule doesn’t once enter her vacuous head. Not content with this fatuous comment, Ellman made another contribution:
‘I note my hon. Friend’s comments that a child should not be detained, and I assume that she means in any circumstances. Suppose a child was involved in an act of violence that resulted in the deaths of other human beings. That is what has happened with young Palestinians throwing stones—people have been killed. In those circumstances, surely she thinks that there should be detention?’
Ms Ellman didn’t of course provide any evidence that the Palestinian children detained have killed anyone with stones. It would be very surprising to learn that hundreds of people have been killed with stones. Perhaps there are one or two incidents of people being killed by Palestinian stone throwers. After all in the biblical tale of David and Goliath, David killed Goliath and is today a Jewish hero. But assuming this has happened, is that an excuse for the policy of raiding hundreds of family homes at night with the express purpose of causing terror? I should add that an occupied people have an international law right to resist the violence of an occupation. What is remarkable is that there is so little Palestinian violence compared to the hundreds of Palestinians killed each year by the Israeli military.
Amazingly because I have accused Louise Ellman (and to be fair I should also have included Labour MP Ian Austin in my strictures) of supporting Israeli child abuse and war crimes, I am being hauled up before Labour’s Star Chamber (otherwise known as the National Constitutional committee) for my ‘crimes’:
|One of the 3 heinous offences for which I have been charged is calling the racist Labour MP Louise Ellman a racist|
Having failed to expel Moshe Machover, Iain McNicol’s witch-hunters have now decided that they will turn their attention to me. The second of my three charges is that:
On various occasions since May 2016, Mr Greenstein has authored and posted articles on a blog at azvsas.blogspot.co.uk which include comments that are offensive and derisory including but not limited to: accusing Louise Ellman MP of being a “supporter of Israeli child abuse”.
It is absolutely true. I have accused Louise Ellman of supporting Israeli child abuse. Indeed that was too mild. She has consistently supported Israeli war crimes against the Palestinians. But rather than discipline her I am being hauled before Labour’s kangaroo court (the National Constitutional Committee) to face charges of ‘anti-Semitism’.
Below is a statement and report by B’tselem, the Israeli human rights organisation, on the systematic abuse of Palestinian teenagers in Jerusalem. B’tselem is not an anti-Zionist group. It is a liberal human rights group which has come under systematic attack by all Zionist parties including the Israeli Labour Party.
When B’tselem’s Director, Hagai el-Ad, gave evidence to the UN Security Council about Israel’s policies in the West Bank Benjamin Netanyahu threatened measures against them such as proposals to prevent them and other human rights NGOs receiving foreign funding. These are now in the legislative pipeline.
According to the Times of Israel US ‘troubled’ by attacks on Israeli rights group B’Tselem ‘Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuli [the Israeli Labour Party is part of the Zionist Union] said the group was helping to advance “the libel and demonization of Israel.” It even reported that ‘A Labor party activist even lodged a police complaint for alleged treason by the organization.’
The Jewish Labour Movement describes itself as the ‘sister’ party of the Zionist Union and Louise Ellman is its Vice President. So the reality is that the representatives of the ugliest forms of Israeli racism have a privileged place inside the British Labour Party. The Times of Israel reported that it was a US State Department official who ‘defended Israeli human rights group B’Tselem as the organization came under fierce criticism in Israel, saying Washington valued the information it provided about the situation in the West Bank and that free speech must be protected…’
I guess we should be grateful that B’tselem wasn’t defended by McNicol’s minions otherwise they might have been charged with ‘anti-Semitism’. The JLM does not and never has defended Israeli human rights organisations. It is totally uncritical of Israeli policies towards the Palestinian. Its sole role is to defend Israeli human rights abuses and accuse Israel’s critics of ‘anti-Semitism’.
Israeli Child Abuse - the Routine Practices of Israel's Military Regime
Picture this: It’s the middle of the night and everyone is fast asleep. You’re jolted awake by pounding at the front door. You open up to find police officers, some of them masked, at your doorstep. They’ve come for your fifteen-year-old son. They are determined to take him in right now. Your plea to bring him in to the police station in the morning is brusquely brushed aside. Your son emerges bleary-eyed from his bedroom. The officers tell him to throw on some clothes and to be quick about it. Then they slap him in handcuffs and disappear with him in tow.
Your son is blindfolded and put in a jeep that takes him to the Russian Compound police station in West Jerusalem. There, he is told to wait. He is still blindfolded and in handcuffs. He doesn’t know how long he’ll have to wait there this way. At some point, a police officer comes to get him and he is conducted into an interrogation room. He sits there on his own, without you or a lawyer present, when the allegations start flying. Sometimes the interrogator also swears at him or beats him. But more often than not, the interrogator “only” demands your son sign a statement of confession. The statement is written in Hebrew, a language your son cannot read.
When the interrogation session is over, he is put in a holding cell. He may be given a towel and a toothbrush, but not necessarily. He will certainly not be given a change of clothes. He has not been given any indication of what to expect. Later, he is taken to court. The judge will remand him to custody without even speaking to him. You may catch a glimpse of him in the courtroom, from afar. He is taken to court several times to extend his remand, traveling back and forth from the holding facility. Eventually, he may be indicted. Or else he may be released – with or without conditions.
This is no imaginary scenario. A new report by B’Tselem and HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual reveals that this is the reality: every year hundreds of Palestinian teenagers go through this, all alone, their parents excluded from the proceedings. We are not talking about a rogue police officer or interrogator who flouts regulation. When it comes to the arrest and detention of Palestinian teenagers in East Jerusalem, this is the policy of the Israeli authorities – including the Israel Police, the Israel Prison Service and the courts.
This reality cannot be rectified through superficial remedies. Believe us – we at B’Tselem have tried that for years. There is no point in trying to improve a system that is inherently part of Israel’s oppressive regime of control over Palestinians. The treatment of these detained teens is merely one aspect of Israel’s longstanding policy in East Jerusalem, which views Palestinians as unwanted residents. Real change can only come about if reality in Jerusalem changes fundamentally, so that all residents are viewed as equal.
Joint report by HaMoked and B'Tselem, Summary, October 2017
Palestinian teenagers from East Jerusalem are pulled out of bed in the middle of the night, unnecessarily handcuffed and then made to spend a long time waiting for their interrogation to begin. Only then, when they are tired and broken, are they taken in for lengthy interrogation sessions, without being given the opportunity to speak to a lawyer or their parents before the questioning begins and without understanding that they have the right to remain silent. They are then held in the detention facility under harsh conditions, for days and weeks, even once the interrogation has, in fact, ended. In some cases, all this is attended by threats, verbal and physical abuse – before or during the interrogation.
Once the boys are officially placed under arrest, their parents are excluded from the proceedings altogether. At no point in time do the law enforcement authorities consider them relevant to the process or as persons entitled to protect their children. They are given no more than the very barest minimum of information about what is happening with their son or what rights he has. Only very rarely are they even allowed to meet with their child. This leaves the parents powerless, unable to help their own child.
Without the protection of their parents or any other adult they can trust, and in complete disregard of their youth, the boys have to endure this entire process alone, far from their families, away from their normal daily routine and anything familiar. The boys find themselves in a threatening and bewildering situation, with none of the adults around them taking the trouble to tell them what is going on. No one explains to them where they are being taken, what they are suspected of, what their rights are, who they may confer with, how long the process will take and when they will return to their families and homes. Worse still, the accounts given by the boys indicate that the adults around them – police officers, agents of the ISA (Israel Security Agency), prison guards and judges – treat them as though they are not entitled to anything at all. Whenever the boys make requests that are granted – be it for food and drink, a towel, access to the toilet or speaking to their parents – it is seen as a gesture of good will, completely at the discretion of whoever is in charge.
These practices leave law enforcement agencies free to use pressure to force them to confess. And indeed, many of the detained minors sign involuntary confessions (sometimes the confessions are false and sometimes written in a language they do not understand), which are then used as the basis for the indictments against them.
This reality is reflected in 60 affidavits B’Tselem and HaMoked collected from East Jerusalem teenaged boys who had been arrested and interrogated over the space of a year and a half, from May 2015 to October 2016. Some of the boys were released after the interrogation, while others were indicted. The findings that emerge from these affidavits, in conjunction with the great deal of information amassed by HaMoked, B’Tselem and other human rights organizations, demonstrate that the situation as described in this report is the primary mode of conduct adopted by the State of Israel for dealing with boys who are suspected of stonethrowing. What we are dealing with is not a few individual rogue interrogators or prison guards who defy regulations. Rather it is a case of a plain and clear policy followed by the various authorities: the police who carry out the arrests; the IPS (Israel Prison Service) which keeps the boys incarcerated in harsh conditions; and finally, the courts, where judges virtually automatically extend the boys’ custodial remand, even in cases when the arrest was unwarranted to begin with, even when the interrogation is already over, and even in cases of boys complaining of being subjected to physical abuse.
The authorities make sure this policy remains, technically, nominally, within legal provisions: it issues arrest warrants (at least sometimes); interrogation sessions are (usually) conducted in the hours permitted by law; the courts extend remand for the periods of time stipulated by the law; and the boys sign written confessions. In addition, the system includes an oversight mechanism that has the authority to review complaints made by minors regarding the conduct of police officers, prison guards or interrogators.
But none of this does any more than create a semblance of legal conduct, with a view to granting legitimacy to these proceedings. In practice, the conduct itself is based on a literal, technical interpretation of the protections afforded to minors by law and reliance on the exceptions it provides. When it comes to Palestinian minors from East Jerusalem, the safeguards set out in the Youth Law are routinely rendered hollow and meaningless by police officers, prison guards and judges who consider their nominal, technical observance of the provisions puts them in the right.
Below are some striking examples:
- The arrest: Under Israeli law, minors may be arrested only in rare exceptions, and even then, for as short a time as possible. However, the affidavits collected for the present research show that arrest is in fact the police’s preferred course of action. Only in 13% of the cases did police refrain from arresting the boys, instead summoning them to come in for questioning. In all other instances, the boys were apprehended either in their homes or on the street and brought in for interrogation. Arrest warrants were issued in advance in some of the cases, but all arrests were retroactively approved by the courts, which also repeatedly sanctioned the minors’ custodial remand after the initial (unjustified) arrest, including after the interrogation had ended.
- Physical restraints: Restraints may be used on minors only in exceptional cases and for the as short a time as possible. The affidavits collected for the present research show that placing minors in restraints is the rule rather than the exception: In 81% of the cases, the boys were handcuffed before being taken into the vehicle that transported them to the interrogation. Seventy percent of the boys were kept in restraints during the interrogation sessions, sometimes kept in both handcuffs and leg restraints.
- Night interrogation: Israeli law prohibits interrogating minors at night, subject to certain specific exceptions. Nevertheless, a quarter of the boys said they were interrogated at night. Moreover, 91% of boys who were arrested at home were arrested at night, when most were already asleep in bed. Even if at least in some of the cases, interrogators waited until morning to begin the interrogation, the boys arrived at the interrogation tired and scared after a sleepless night.
- Violation of rights: The rights afforded to minors were enshrined in law to help them protect themselves and to mitigate the immense power imbalance between them and the interrogators. These rights are upheld in a technical manner that renders them meaningless:
- The right to remain silent: Interrogators informed the boys of their right to remain silent in only 71% of the cases, but in 70% of these, the boys did not understand what the right meant and were afraid that they would be harmed if they did in fact remain silent.
- The right to counsel: In 70% of the cases, interrogators allowed the boys to speak to a lawyer prior to the interrogation, but these conversations were inadequate and failed to help the minors understand their rights and what they were up against – especially in the cases in which interrogators contacted lawyers on their own phones, so that the boys spoke to a lawyer on an interrogator’s phone.
- The right to have a parent present during the interrogation: The law grants this right to minors suspected of an offense, subject to exceptions. However, once placed under arrest, parental presence is no longer a right, although the police does have discretion to allow it. In 95% of the cases, the boys were in the interrogation room on their own, without parents or other relatives.
- In the interrogation room: The lack of protection for the minors’ rights, and the fact that they find themselves alone in the interrogation room mean the interrogators are able to harm them physically and emotionally, taking advantage of the loopholes in Israeli law that allow using violence during interrogation and the fact that the mechanisms in place for investigating complaints regarding ill-treatment and torture are ineffective and non-deterrent as most complaints are closed with no measures taken. Secure in the knowledge that their superiors do not consider anything in their conduct prohibited, that they in fact support them and that no action will be taken against them, police officers, prison guards and interrogators can freely continue harming the minors. Interrogators take advantage of this state of affairs. Seventy percent of the boys were only interrogated once or twice; 25% of the boys who gave affidavits for this report said interrogators employed some degree of violence against them; 55% reported shouting, threats and verbal abuse from the interrogators; 23% said they were denied access to the toilet, and 26% said their requests for food or drink were denied. Forty-three percent of the boys received their first meal more than ten hours after being taken into custody. This method of interrogation is partly what led to 83% of the boys signing confessions, 80% of which were in Hebrew so they did not understand the statements they were signing.
- Holding conditions: The law stipulates that minors be held in age-appropriate conditions which include adequate food, health services, access to education, visits by social workers and family members and access to telephone calls with their families. In this area too, there are exceptions that allow withholding some of these rights. Holding conditions at the Russian Compound police station in Jerusalem, where most of the teenagers who gave affidavits for this report were taken, are light years away from these provisions, and do not allow the detainees to maintain their dignity. The supply of toiletries was incomplete and irregular. None of the boys received a change of clothes. In addition, during their detention at the Russian Compound, none of the boys were given any opportunity for meaningful activities and most remained locked in their cells for most hours of the day and night. The information given by the boys indicates they were allowed to contact their families in rare cases only.
- This conduct exposes Israel’s policy which aims to allows authorities to continue this maltreatment of Palestinian minors while shrouding in a cloak of legality an extensive, systematic and well-documented abuse of the fundamental human rights of hundreds of minors, every year, for decades.
It stands to reason that the law enforcement system would treat these teenagers in an age-appropriate manner that takes their physical and mental maturity into account, recognizing that every action could have long-term repercussions for the boys themselves as well as for their families. It stands to reason that the system would treat the boys humanely and fairly and provide them with basic protections. But that is not the case. Instead, Israel’s law enforcement system treats them as members of a hostile population all of whom, minors and adults alike, are presumed guilty until proven innocent, and employs against them extreme measures that it would never venture to use against other segments of the population. Israel’s justice system is, by definition, on one side of the fence, with Palestinians on the other: The police officers, the prison guards, the prosecutors and the judges are always Israeli citizens who arrest, interrogate, judge and lock up Palestinian teenagers who are seen as enemies out to harm the interests of Israeli society.
This aspect of life in East Jerusalem cannot be separated from Israel’s overall policy in the city. In 1967 Israel unlawfully annexed approximately 7,000 hectares of land – namely, some 600 hectares that constituted the Jordanian portion of Jerusalem, along with some or all of the land belonging to 28 nearby villages and towns. Yet, it has always treated the people living on that land as unwanted and state authorities and their agents have never viewed them as having equal rights.
All Israeli authorities operating in East Jerusalem follow a policy aimed at encouraging Palestinian residents to leave the city. This is why strict bans are in place on residential construction and East Jerusalem residents must live in overcrowded conditions or – in the absence of any other alternative – risk building without a permit and then live in fear of demolition. This is why strict policies are in place with regards to family reunification, effectively forbidding East Jerusalem residents who married residents from elsewhere in the West Bank or from the Gaza Strip to live with their spouses in the city. This is why institutional, systemic discrimination is practiced in municipal and state budgeting, as a result of which East Jerusalem residents suffer from substandard infrastructure and a chronic shortage of public services.
There is no possible justification for the extreme measures the law enforcement system uses against East Jerusalem minors. The reality described in this report is part of the underpinnings of Israeli control over the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem. So long as this control continues, Israeli authorities will in all probability continue to treat Palestinians in East Jerusalem as unwanted, less equal people, with all that implies. Real change will come only if the reality in Jerusalem is completely overhauled.
This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of B’Tselem and HaMoked and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.
|Ibrahim Abu Marya and two of his children. Alex Levac|
Gideon Levy// Israeli Occupation's Brutal Routine: Nightly Raids, Boys Cuffed for Hours and Seized Jewelry
There's never a dull night in the village of Beit Ummar, where the Israeli army is a regular visitor
Gideon Levy and Alex Levac Nov 02, 2017 5:28 PM
It’s the last street at the southern edge of the West Bank town of Beit Ummar, between Bethlehem and Hebron. The settlement of Karmei Tzur looms on the hill across the way. A street like any other: one- and two-story homes, potholes, no sidewalk. On this long road, which doesn’t even have a name and where grace does not abound, hardly a night goes by without a raid by the Israel Defense Forces. The troops swoop in four or five times a week, usually in the dead of night.
Here’s what they’ve done in the past few weeks: They caught a boy who was suspected of throwing stones, dragged him across rock-strewn ground for hundreds of meters, thrust him into a room and forced him to stay there for six hours, blindfolded and hands bound; they confiscated money and jewelry from a number of homes; wrested a few young people from their beds; and handcuffed members of an entire family, including the women, leaving them bound that way after they left.
|This is how the occupation looks in Beit Ummar.|
Khaled Bahar, a small, lean, smiling boy of 13 with a chirpy voice and who looks younger than his age, is well groomed and sports a trendy haircut. He relates what happened to him one night two weeks ago just like an adult; children here grow up fast. This week, when we visited his home in Beit Ummar, located at the far end of the street of troubles, he was sitting on the living room sofa in the company of his family. Logs were burning in the fireplace: Winter, too, has descended on the village, early.
Khaled’s father works in the local branch of a Jordanian bank. In addition to the nighttime raids, Israeli soldiers also appear on his street daily at the same time, around dusk, from Karmei Tzur. About 400 meters [1,310 feet] separate the settlement’s iron gate and the street. Like a ritual, the children wait for the soldiers, follow them and occasionally throw stones at them from afar. They also talk to them, says Khaled.
On October 16, too, soldiers entered the town and took up positions in the structure of an unfinished house on the street. Khaled and his friends stood below the house, leaning on a stone wall. According to Khaled, the rocks his friends threw didn’t even get close to the four or five soldiers. He himself did not throw any, he adds.
After watching the 10 or so children for a time, the soldiers came down to the street, splitting into two units. One unit got to Khaled, who describes the event as though it were some sort of strategic offensive. Two of the soldiers grabbed him, one by the neck, the other by an arm. You have to see how small Khaled is to appreciate the absurdity of this situation. They dragged him forcibly in the direction of the settlement. He says he stumbled a few times along the way and was scratched by thorns. He was very frightened but didn’t cry, and when he tried to ask them where they were taking him, they told him to shut up.
|Khaled Bahar, right, with his cousin Abded Kader Bahar, in Khaled’s home in Beit Ummar this week. Alex Levac|
Khaled’s cousin, Abded Kader Bahar, ran after them. He’s the same age as Khaled but even leaner, and has an even fancier hairdo. He shouted at the soldiers, then tried to kick them. One of the soldiers thrust his rifle butt into Abded’s back and tried to shoo him away. Khaled called out to his cousin to run. Other members of Khaled’s family, among them his mother and an uncle, arrived and tried to pry Khaled loose from the soldiers’ grip.
“Mom, don’t be afraid, I’m alright,” Khaled cried out to his frightened mother. His uncle, Moussa, urged the soldiers to hand over his nephew. “I will educate him,” he told them. “All these years, none of you have educated him,” the soldier-pedagogue replied, vanishing with Khaled behind the settlement’s gate.
Khaled was taken to a room, handcuffed and blindfolded, and made to sit on a chair, where he remained for the next six hours – scared, tired, bound. He remembers that he was given water and offered food, but declined it because he didn’t trust the soldiers. He wanted to go to sleep, but just as his head drooped, he suddenly heard the barking of a dog next to him. Scared, he thought they were siccing a dog on him to prevent him from sleeping, but through a slit in the blindfold, he saw someone’s fingers scratching his legs. It turned out to be a practical joke: A soldier was on his knees and barking like a dog in order to scare the boy. War games.
Khaled was cold and asked for a blanket; after a time, someone brought him one. The chair was uncomfortable, but the soldiers refused to move him. Khaled thought about his mother, he says. Just as he was drifting off again, he heard a soldier calling him: “Yallah, yallah, get up.” They told him they were taking him somewhere. He asked where, and one of the soldiers replied, “First to Kiryat Arba, then to Etzion [a security forces facility] and then to Ben Gurion Airport.” Hearing “airport” unnerved the boy. He was placed in a military vehicle and taken to the police station in Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hebron. By now it was late at night.
At the station, he was taken to an interrogation room and the blindfold was removed. When he asked to go to the restroom, the handcuffs were taken off.
“Why did you throw stones?” the interrogator demanded.
“I didn’t,” Khaled insisted.
The policeman showed him a photo on a cell phone and asked, “Who is this?” Khaled said he didn’t know. “But he’s wearing the same shirt you have on,” the officer said. As usual in the territories, no lawyer and no parents were present – as stipulated by law in Israel for minors.
“If you throw stones again, we’ll kill you,” the policeman said.
Khaled was released following a brief interrogation. It was 2 A.M. Palestinian security liaison personnel took him to the gas station at the entrance to Beit Ummar, where his father was waiting for him. Back home, he didn’t want to eat or drink, only to sleep. He didn’t go to school the next day. Nor did little Abded Kader Bahar, as a token of solidarity. Khaled’s sister says that the next night, Khaled cried out in his sleep, “Don’t pull me, it wasn’t me! I didn’t throw anything!”
Khaled doesn’t remember a thing.
‘They’re choking me’
Ibrahim Abu Marya, a 50-year-old electrician from Beit Ummar, lives up the street from Khaled’s family. On October 25, soldiers invaded his home at about 2:30 A.M. After so many times, he’s used to it by now.
There was an explosion near the front door and around 30 soldiers entered, along with a K-9 dog. Mahdi, his 14-year-old son, was bound by the troops and a soldier gripped him by the neck. “They’re choking me,” Mahdi shouted to his father. Ibrahim was pushed away; seven soldiers encircled him, he says. Bara, his daughter, who’s 17, tried to come to the aid of her brother, but the soldiers bound her hands with plastic handcuffs. She’s a pretty girl with a ponytail, now wearing a sweatshirt that says “I love you,” and slippers with rabbit ears. There were no female soldiers among the Israeli force. The older sister, Ala, 23, was also handcuffed when she tried to help Mahdi.
Ibrahim asked the soldiers why they were being so violent, but got no reply. From the kitchen, he heard the shouts of his other son, Mohammed, 22, whom the soldiers had come to arrest. The mother, Faduah, 50, was locked in her room and not allowed to leave.
The soldiers took Mohammed outside and as they were about to leave, Ibrahim asked one of them to release him and the others from their handcuffs. “It’s not my business,” the soldier told him. The soldiers spent about an hour in the home, before leaving with Mohammed. He is now being detained in Ashkelon prison. A neighbor arrived to remove the handcuffs.
Soldiers have raided the Abu Marya home about 20 times in the past few years. It’s routine. The previous visit was less routine, though.
On October 4, soldiers arrived at dusk and went up to the roof. They left after a while and returned at night to conduct a search. Ibrahim told Faduah to bring the cash they had in the house – 20,000 shekels ($5,680), which he’d borrowed from his brother-in-law to help pay for a heart operation for his father, Abdel Hamid, who is 83. He shows us the documents stating that his father was in Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron at the time.
A female soldier took the bag containing the cash and counted the money, taking 10,500 shekels and giving Ibrahim 9,500 shekels. The authorization form, signed by Inbal Gozlan, describes the cash as “Hamas money”: 52 200-shekel bills and one of 100. The form, a “Seizure Order in Arabic,” is rife with clauses and sub-clauses citing security and emergency regulations, according to which the money was impounded.
Ibrahim tells us he has no ties with Hamas or any other organization: “My ‘party’ is the municipality and the electrician’s profession,” he says.
How did the soldier determine that about half the money was Hamas funds and the rest was not? It’s hard to know. The authorization form contains a phone number for appeals, but Ibrahim says he was told that hiring a lawyer will cost him more than the money taken. He has written off the money.
According to Musa Abu Hashhash, a field researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, IDF soldiers have lately been confiscating money with great frequency in the Hebron area. That same night, troops raided three other homes in Beit Ummar, confiscating money and property. Soldiers removed all the jewelry that Amal Sabarna – whose husband, Nadim, is in administrative detention (imprisoned without trial) – was wearing around her neck and hands, and impounded it. She received the items as a gift, she says. The soldiers also removed a gold earring from an earlobe of her daughter.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit stated in response: “With respect to the first incident mentioned in the article, the suspect was arrested after he was caught throwing stones at the gate of the settlement of Karmei Tzur, held for interrogation and released thereafter without being taken to the police station.
“As to the second incident, during a nighttime operation, terror activist Mohammed Abu Marya was arrested. Participating in the activity were female soldiers who checked the women in the house. It must be stressed that members of the family were not bound at any stage during the operation.
“As to the third incident, authorization was given for impounding the 10,500 shekels, which were received from a terror organization.
“As for the last incident, it should be emphasized that no jewelry was removed from [the person of] any of the individuals in the house. Rather, jewelry was confiscated in the presence of representatives of the police, of a value that had been approved in advance.
“In spite of the above, following the incident the protocol was clarified and it was decided that confiscation of jewelry instead of terror funds will take place only in the event that specific approval has been given for doing so.”
Soldiers returned to Beit Ummar this past week, too, of course. On Sunday night, they entered the home of Ibrahim Abu Marya’s brother, who lives nearby, and ordered his 16-year-old son, Muhand, to show them where another resident, Ahmed Abu Hashem lives. The boy refused. When the soldiers finally got to the Abu Hashem house, they arrested Ahmed’s son, Kusai, who’s also 16.