Friday, October 13, 2006

Far from the cameras

Ha'aretz

When the abusive soldiers played with his cell phone, they unknowingly photographed themselves, and their pictures enabled the Military Police investigation unit to locate them. Muhassin's case is apparently the only one to be solved so far, out of eight complaints submitted last week to the Israel Defense Forces by the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, against soldiers for harassing Palestinians at the checkpoints since the outbreak of the recent Lebanon War. This week, indictments were filed in the regional military court against Sergeant H. and Sergeant Y. Euphemisms were used to describe details of the crime: The accused, while serving as soldiers in the IDF, behaved in a manner unbefitting their rank and status in the army. The Lebanon War, which grabbed all the public's attention for about a month, turned the West Bank into a gray area, prone to the fallout of shame, chauvinism and aggressive vengefulness from the IDF's inability to defeat Hezbollah.

"They kept shouting at me: 'We've caught you, ya maniac, ya Hezbollah.' I don't know, maybe they thought I was a terrorist, they were hitting me all the time, I don't know, they went crazy, I don't understand it, they entered my house and now they're killing me, who will stop them from saying that I wanted to steal a weapon, we know the Jews, we know them well, they think that they can do anything, we live as in a prison, we want to live, we want to live in spite of everything, the Jews talk about peace, what peace, these people like blood, if someone checks their blood type he'll find war, these are people with war in their genes. Afterward they complain that there are terror attacks. Why? From the pressure we live under. If I can't bring bread or milk home, what should I do? There's no way, there's no way."

"Each time the cup fell I was beaten mercilessly, so I tried to stabilize it on my head. When I succeeded, the soldier said: 'Now quiet, quiet, don't move, keep quiet, you bastard.' He aimed his rifle and shot at the cup. The soldiers were rolling with laughter and they applauded. I saw the shot. The soldier was about four meters away. He apparently hit the mark, because the soldiers applauded. I thought it was the end of my life, it's indescribable, I couldn't believe I was still alive, if I were to meet that soldier today I would kill him, I don't care, let them kill me, you only die once."

Of course, the Jews as a people are not responsible for the violence of Israeli soldiers, but can someone who has been raised under Israeli occupation, ie. the occupation by a self-proclaimed jewish state, and tortured by Israeli soldiers, for making a sweeping generalisation of the sort?

On the other hand, we must all, as westerners, take responsiblity for the actions of our governments as well as those our governments support. The responsibility we have is to speak out and act against terror as practised by our governments and their allies. We think, just because it is far away, and we hardly see any of it on our TV screens, that it does not exist, or that it is minor as compared to attacks in our countries. Yet, Palestinians are abused every day by Israeli armed forces. These are acts of terror on innocent civilians by a colonising regime. To illustrate this last point, this from a Nobel Peace Prize, Shimon Peres:

Vice Premier Shimon Peres voiced Thursday his support for a continuation of the construction projects in the West Bank settlements. Israel cannot be punished twice, the vice premier said, referring to the ongoing Qassam threat to the country on the one hand, and the restrictions imposed on settlers on the other. The settlers' children cannot be stopped from building their homes, Peres added, saying that this issue is one of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's major problems, a problem that preoccupied former Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak and Menachem Begin in the past.

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