The kidnap, detention and torture of Palestinians, especially children, at the hands of Israeli occupation forces is a routine practice in the West Bank.
It is more rare for Israelis – who enjoy racial privileges under Israel’s apartheid system – to be given the “Palestinian” treatment. Yet a video and written account provides an example of two Israelis, “Shai” and “Doron,” being subjected to the kind of abuse by Israeli soldiers more usually reserved for Palestinians.
Peaceful protests by villagers and solidarity activists against the theft of Nabi Saleh’s land to expand the illegal Jews-only colony of Halamish have continued despite Israel’s brutal violence and repression including the killing of Mustafa Tamimi and the arrest and military trial of popular resistance leader Bassem Tamimi.
Violent repression of peaceful protest
At the start of the video, villagers are seen marching, calling slogans in Arabic including “Occupation out out!” and “Young folks, come out and join us! Mustafa is dear to us.”
Then the video shows Israeli forces violently suppressing the protest with huge volleys of tear gas and other projectiles. Toward the end of the clip two young men, one apparently a photographer, are seen taken away in ambulances, one with blood pouring from his leg.
Israelis arrested and tortured
At about 1:45, Shai and Doron can be seen being made to kneel on the rocky ground, surrounded by soldiers, as plastic handcuffs are attached to them – again, mistreatment commonly meted out to Palestinians.
Taken to settlement, beaten and kicked
An account, posted on the website of Anarchists Against the Wall, tells what happened, especially after the two were arrested:
We reach the military base, near the Halamish settlement, and we are pushed from the jeep, about 10 metres from the soldier standing guard at the entrance to the base, who is looking at all this. A border policeman by the name of Yinon Hadad is walking around us furious, cursing us, and holding his head with his two hands. Yinon, Husam and another border policeman by the name of Almog Levy blindfold us using flannel cloth, and when our eyes are covered they hit us on the head and kick our legs, saying “now you can walk…you have strong legs”. Following the kicking Doron grunts in pain, and then we can hear one of the border policemen saying “There, you can speak”, and another border policeman, the one who is kicking us, says “you want to hear this again?” He then kicks Doron’s leg with force, causing him to fall down. The border policemen pick him up immediately, perhaps not wanting soldiers walking inside the base to see all this violence. Obviously, those who wanted to see the violence at that time could see it, but over there, as in the Israeli society at large, people chose to ignore.
Torture as political retribution for heresy?
After that, the two describe being blindfolded, tied up in extremely painful positions, deprived and constantly threatened. In an indication that the torture might have been a form of political retribution:
A soldier entered Shai’s room. He identified himself as a veteran of Hashomer Hatzair (a socalist-leftist-Zionist youth movement). He told Shai that his girlfriend was a pacifist and that he had friends who refused to serve in the territories, but he could not understand what kind of ideology makes people like us end up where we were at that moment.
After interrogation and being served with an order not to enter the area for 10 days, the two were released. Had they been Palestinians, they might have spent months or years in jail on trumped up charges brought in the military kangaroo courts Israel runs in the occupied West Bank.
Still, Shai and Doron’s experience – their account is also in Hebrew – underscores that Israel seems to be following a similar pattern to apartheid South Africa in its final years. In that case whites, even if they opposed apartheid, were usually protected from the regime’s brutality. But as the regime became more desperate, it turned its repression increasingly on the privileged class as well.
Brutal beating is called the “Palestinian treatment”
Recently, Michael Treiger described a separate incident in Nabi Saleh where he was subjected to “Palestinian treatment” including a beating by soldiers. He tweeted about the incident in mid-December and wrote it up on his blog: “A Friday Afternoon Under The Boot of The IDF.”