Thursday, July 26, 2007

Police Violence at Eitam

From Laura Ben-David's account:-

People were coming and going. Early on we met a distraught woman on her way back. She said that they had made it to the end, and her husband was holding an Israeli flag. One soldier allegedly pushed her husband, and then it seemed to be open-season on this man as a number of other soldiers jumped in to attack him, after which the man was arrested - all for holding an Israeli flag.

A bit further on I watched four border policemen drag someone away. I had no idea what he had or had not done to warrant such excessive force. Maybe he was passively resisting? Or maybe he was a dangerous criminal? That seemed rather unlikely though.

Moshe, a 15 year old from Chashmonaim, had a very difficult time. When he and his friends reached the final hill of Eitam, he spoke to some of the soldiers there, explaining the importance for every Jew to settle the Land of Israel. A border policeman, whose name, ironically, was Arafat, started cursing them and pushing. The boys weren't looking for a fight. They were speaking nicely with one of the Yassam officers, when this man allegedly said, "I'm sick of being nice" and started to choke Moshe, while covering his mouth. Four Yassam officers reportedly joined in, and threw him onto a bus. When Moshe protested further brutal action toward someone else, the officer punched him in the face, used pressure points in his ear to cause pain, cursed at him. Finally, other cops pulled his attacker off the bus. However, soon afterwards several Yassam officers got back on the bus, pushed the border policemen who was protecting him out of the way, and proceeded to pull his tzizit, choking him, and kicking him. All the while Moshe was yelling, "I surrender, I surrender! I didn't do anything!"

Despite how terrible these reports seemed, I was determined to try to see this event through the eyes of the soldiers and officers. I desperately wanted to understand. I therefore tried talking to many of the various security personnel on the scene. I wanted to know - did it torment them to have to prevent their fellow Jews from their struggle to preserve the Jewish quality of the Land of Israel? Most were pretty tight-lipped. One of the border policemen put it this way: "This is a restricted area, no civilians are allowed. There are hostile villages here."

"Yes," I told him, "I understand. But how do you feel about doing this?"

"I don't feel. I do my orders."

I tried several other officers. One told me that he can't speak to me while in uniform, that he has a job. I suggested that I speak to him later, when he is off-duty, and he said, "Later, I just want to go home."

I couldn't help but wonder: Does the army consist solely of battalions, or of individuals too? Where should the individual end and the establishment begin? Can they coexist? Must we lose our humanity to be part of the establishment?

The current "establishment" seems to have completely sold-out on the pioneers of Israel. What was Zionism, patriotism and nationalistic spirit, is now patently illegal. Criminal activity. Our soldiers - OUR SOLDIERS! - have been charged with stopping us in our tracks. Maybe even to threaten us and hurt us. Sometimes they do. But not always.

© Laura Ben David. 2007
By Laura Ben David, Neve Daniel

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