Category Archives: Translations from Hebrew articles

The Taste of Mulberries

The following beautiful texts are taken from the book “Israel, an Apartheid State” by Uri Davis, Zed Books Ltd, 1987.

Prolegomena: The Taste of Mulberries

by Havah ha- Levi

(a) The Female Snake

Someone said something about Tantura…1

Soft hills rolled silently into each other’s embrace [towards the beach] and right on the edge of the hills there was a dense plantation of low palm trees clustered on the beach. A scenery of soft and misty dream. Only the feeling of nausea returns to trouble me.

At a short distance from the cluster of palms there was a group of empty houses.

Some of them were slightly damaged, but generally, the houses were intact and beautiful. Everything [about the houses] was very neglected, empty and filthy. A few ancient shoes exposed their seams along the footpath. There in the deserted village of Tantura the kibbutz set up the summer camp for its children.

The houses were cleaned up. A large long tent was erected to serve as a dining hall. The place was a paradise for children.

I remember the heat of the scorching sun over my tanned skin. The salt taste of the sea water. The swimming competitions. The beautiful and quiet beach. And thirty or forty happy children. Really happy.

And yet I listen to my memories. I try to redraw the lines that chart my memory.

There are things that already had their beginning in another place.

There were these half scornful sentences, such as: if the Arabs come, they will steal you first. You are blonde and the Arabs like blonde girls; if the Arabs come, they will see your golden head in the dark and will steal you first. They will think perhaps that it is a ball of gold; here is an Arab shoe. Such sentences …

Towards the end, two days before the conclusion of the summer camp, they asked who wanted to go on a tour and listen to Motke telling stories about the conquest of Tantura. I went, too.

We went into the cluster of palms, and the leader of the summer camp, a nice jovial kibbutznik who evidently loved children, was already there telling something. I lagged behind as usual. I walked along daydreaming and slightly bored. When I eventually caught up with the group, they were all standing near a large house which had perhaps originally been situated at the edge of the village, and I remember the words: ‘We attacked at both ends. Most of them had already run away. Suddenly a huge Arab came out behind this house and began to run. I shot him, and he jumped in the air like a rabbit, turned a somersault and fell’.

Even today I do not know whether this was a factual description of what had happened. But at our place, they used to say that if you kill a snake, you should throw it away or hide it, because if it is left exposed, all the snakes (the family? the tribe?) will come to the place to look for it and this could be very dangerous. And that if you kill a bee that has stung you, it is likewise necessary to throw it away or hide it, since otherwise all the bees will come there after its smell. And that if you kill a lion, the lioness will always come to search for it.

And then, suddenly, together with the Arab, shot in the air with his white kufiyya and black agal, all the Arabs who had lived there in these houses, who had worn those shoes now discarded on the footpaths, the children who had run about naked on the beach, the fat, erect women who had carried the jars on top of their heads… they all came out suddenly in my imagination to look for him. I recalled the warning not to leave the corpse of the snake in the place where it had been killed because the female snake will come to look for it and I turned to look behind me, terrified. There was nothing there. Only the beautiful houses and the sea. A bit angry and a bit curious, I thought about this bad Arab who had come to attack our soldiers. I thought he had deserved to die like that, yet he did not seem to have been dangerous when he was shot there in the air, like a rabbit. I wanted to know if he was from this village, or from another place.

We returned to the beach and ate a water melon. I wanted to have the ‘heart’ of the water melon, but I never got it because I always arrived late. Everything lost its taste. I told my friend: Mira, I am already fed up with this summer camp. I want to go back home.

She looked at me surprised, beautiful, suntanned: ‘Why?’

(b) The Taste of Mulberries

The name of the villages was Sarkas, which probably refers to the former origin of its inhabitants, Circassians, who came, I would not know how, to the Middle East and settled here.2Anyway, when I came to know the village, all of its inhabitants were Palestinian Arabs. In fact, I never came to know the village properly; I was never there, though this is only half the truth, and I shall return to that later.

In our eyes, the eyes of children four or five years old, the village was represented by two women: Khadija and Hanifa. Maybe they were more courageous than the rest, or maybe they served as something like the ‘Foreign Office’ of the village. They often walked about in the kibbutz, and as far as I can remember they were mainly preoccupied with the picking of khubeiza (mallow) leaves which grew in wild abundance along the roadside. When we asked why they pick the khubeiza, we were told that the Arabs cook the leaves and eat them. And so, the first thing lever knew about Arabs was that they eat khubeiza. I also knew, of course, that they ride on camels, since the camels used to pass through the kibbutz and occasionally camp there; I knew that they ride on donkeys along the white road which probably stretches up to the very end of the world. But at that time there were also in the area British soldiers (the Mandate) and Australian soldiers (World War II), and thus it was imbedded in my consciousness that Eretz Israel3 consists of us, as well as passers by: Arabs, British, Australians …

About that time they all disappeared, and I really did not notice their disappearance all that much. Of course, the departure of the British was accompanied by much talk on the radio and in the yard of the kibbutz. But as to the fact that Khadija and Hanifa ceased to show up – well, there are many events that pass through the universe of any child, and he or she accepts their appearance os well as their disappearance as a matter of fact. Later, I came to know that the village had been destroyed by bulldozers, and I was a little scared. And then I forgot, und many years passed be fore Sarkas again emerged before my eyes as a place where people lived.

The destroyed village was made into the kibbutz garbage dump. I do not know who was the first to discover that in the midst of the ruins and the dust und the stench there remained a mulberry tree. A huge mulberry tree, which, In summer, produced huge mulberries: black and deliciously sweet. The mulberry trees in the kibbutz were grown on much water and their fruit was therefore somewhat watery, and anyway they were much too high to climb. But this mulberry tree was low, spreading wide, and heavily laden with fruit, to the deep delight of a little girl who was rather quiet and clumsy and who loved mulberries. And thus, every Saturday we would go on pilgrimage to the mulberry tree, stand around it for hours and eat of its fruit and return home with hands and faces blackened by the dark dye of mulberry sap. Never, not once, while standing there among the ruins and the dust under the scathing sun did we talk or think of the inhabitants of Sarkas who lived here: where are they? Where did they go? Why?

From the distance of fifteen years of difficult political development, I watch this group of children devouring mulberries in the midst of a destroyed village, and I just cannot comprehend: how? Wherefrom this utter blindness?

For many years I would walk on Saturdays to Sarkas. At times with company. At times alone. Now Sarkas was no longer embodied in Khadija and Hanifa. Now Sarkas was reduced to the stench of the kibbutz garbage dump and the mulberries In summer. On either side of the road to Sarkas there were sabr cacti hedgerows along all roads, but today they have all disappeared, except in books and in Arab villages, where they still remain. In summer the sabr would bring forth their fruit, and raise masses of tiny red and orange flags glued to their rounded green flagpoles in a summer festival. And when the sabr fruit was ripe, the Arab women would appear out of nowhere, fill their big tin containers with the red and orange fruit and walk away. Today I remember these Arab women and I ask myself: where did they come from? Who were they? Were they exiled inhabitants of the of the village? And in the evening, when they eat the fruit that they had gathered or when they sell it at the roadside, do they feel the taste of their lost homes?

But at that time I did not think of them in the least. The Arabs were something whose temporary provisional existence was eternal. They pass along the white mild on a donkey-cart, emerging out of somewhere and going on to somewhere else, Only once, for some reason … There was a big scout night game, a sort of test of courage. I hid behind the sabr hedgerows and waited for my pursuers to pass by. I sat there in the dark for a long time, quietly. I was not afraid. And all of a sudden they were with me. The women of Sarkas. The women who pick khubeiza along the roadside. The women with the long knives who steal wheat from the fields of the kibbutz. The women with the water cans and the bundles of dry wood on their heads. Slowly, slowly, they slipped by on their bare feet, black and silent. Their round outline, like the sabr cacti leaves, merged with the darkness around, silent.

Today there stands on the site a huge plant for the processing of agricultural products. An exemplary cooperative venture. And the hill? The hill of the village of Sarkas, where is it? The entire area was levelled down, and around the huge factory orange groves were planted, and there is not one single cut stone left as testimony. Yet, I remember. I testify.

In 1961, a very young woman from kibbutz Giv’at ha-Sheloshah married an Arab youth who was employed in her kibbutz. The kibbutz refused to allow them to remain there, and they applied to join ‘my’ kibbutz. The debate on whether they are to be admitted or whether they are not to be admitted extended over one and a half years and shook the kibbutz in a way that no other subject ever did, either before or since. The debate cut across families, and brought sons to rebel against their parents, brothers against brothers and husbands against wives. The leadership of the Ha-Shomer ha-Tza’ir kibbutz federation was called to present its position (opposed), and threats of leaving the kibbutz on this matter were voiced in both camps. In the end, the ‘mixed couple’ was not admitted to the kibbutz. Both camps were already tired of endless debates and rows. In a bitter discussion which I (who supported their admission) had with one of the leading opponents he told me: ‘Do you know that Rashid is a son of the village of Sarkas? Do you think he can live here, raise his children here and always see across the street the hill which was his village, and not think anything?’

At that moment, together with the scorching sun and the dust, I felt in my mouth the taste of the mulberries, and I understood what homeland means, and also, for the first time, vaguely and at a distance and a little bit afraid, I understood that this homeland, the homeland of the songs and of school textbooks, is simply just the taste of mulberries, and the smell of dust, and the moist earth in winter, and the colour of the sky, and that it is a homeland not only for me, but also for Rashid Masarwa. At that very moment, in the midst of the heated discussion, the taste of mulberries and the shock, I remembered one fearful memory.

It was towards the end of the 1948 war, after we had won the war and defeated the Arab armies and had a state of our own. We were lying in bed. Eight children in the children’s house. It was night. From the distance we heard the heavy and rumbling noise. It was not very far away, but one could clearly hear that the noise did not come from inside the kibbutz. And the noise went on and on and on. I asked what this protracted and continuous noise was, and one of the children told me that two kibbutz members had gone with bulldozers to Sarkas to destroy the houses of the Arabs. In real fear of Arab revenge I asked: ‘But what will the Arabs do when they come back and see that we have destroyed their homes?’ And he then answered: ‘That is why we destroy their homes, so that they do not come back’.

I then knew that the matter was lost. The home of Rashid was destroyed then so that he would not return. So that he, his mother in the long black robe who walks erect with the bundle of wood magnificently balanced on her head, and all his brothers and sisters who run barefoot on the stones would not return. And also now they will not let him come back.

In December 1972, the entire country was shaken with what was dubbed in the press as the ‘affair of the espionage and sabotage network’. Some thirty Arab youths and six Jewish youths, Israelis, were arrested on charges of forming a ‘sabotage organization’, operated by Syrian intelligence, whose object was ‘to damage the security of the state’. One of the Jewish detainees, a youth aged 26, was a son of my kibbutz. Another detainee from the Arab village of Jatt, was a youth named Mahmud Masarwa. In his defence speech he stated as follows:

The Honourable Court, Your Honourable Judges,

My father was born in the village of Sarkas, near kibbutz .. , in the vicinity of Haderah. My father was the son of a peasant. In 1948, he was removed from his land, expelled by force. Their lands were confiscated. Their homes were destroyed. On the site a factory for the kibbutz was built. My father was compelled to go out and seek work as a labourer in order to feed … [his family]. We went to live in such a tiny house: twelve people in the space of metres times 3 metres. In 1957, I remember this quite well, one year after the Sinai war, my father told me and my brother who sits here [in the court room]: ‘Go out to work in order that you at least help me to finance your studies .. .’ (Quoted from the official Protocol of the court proceedings.)

‘My brother who sits here in the court room!’

His brother who sat there was Rashid Masarwa who, in 1961, applied to be admitted to the kibbutz together with his Jewish wife. It was Rashid Masarwa who told the members of the kibbutz:

I want to live here as a loyal kibbutz member like everyone else, but I want my children to know that their father is an Arab, and I want my children to know the Quran, and I want them to celebrate all the Jewish holidays, but also know what Ramadan is, and that their grandfather and grandmother will come to visit them here in the kibbutz, and that my children will also go to the village to be with their grandfather and grandmother in the holidays.

Now he is sitting here, Rashid Masarwa, and watches his brother being sentenced for wanting to take by the force of arms what he himself had hoped to gain by application and consent, and all the brotherhood among the nations in the world could not be of any avail to them.

In the Ramleh central prison the son of the dispossessing kibbutz und the son of the dispossessed village met again. Only one youth, one Udi Adiv, from that kibbutz. resolved in his mind to cross the road. But the world has no space to accommodate the naive.

And if prisoners in jail do dream – both prisoners, no doubt, see in their dreams the colour of the sky, and perhaps they also savour the taste of mulberries.

1 Tantura is a Palestinian Arab village on the Mediterranean coast, some 13 km north of Caesaria. In 1944 its population was estimated at 1,470 Muslim and 20 Christian inhabitants. It was occupied by the Israeli army in 1948 and subsequently almost completely destroyed. All of its inhabitants were expelled and made refugees. The lands of the Palestinian Arab village of Tantura are now cultivated by the Israeli Jewish kibbutz Nahsholim (established 1948; population 350; area of cultivation 1,500 dunams). [Footnote probably by Uri Davis]

2 After the Russian conquest of Circassia from the Ottomans in 1878, many Circassian clans and families loyal to the Ottoman regime emigrated to various countries throughout the Ottoman empire. The Ottoman Sultan Abd al-Hamid extended his support to the Circassian resettlement and made lands available to them in Palestine, inter alia, where there are two Circassian villages, Kufr Qama in Lower Galilee and Rihaniyya in Upper Galilee. The attempt to settle Circassians in the Northern Sharon, in the northern coastal plain, where they established the village of Sarkas failed, and the original Circassian inhabitants were gradually replaced by native Palestinian Arabs. In 1947 the village population totalled some 400 inhabitants. [Footnote probably by Uri Davis]

3 The Hebrew designation of historical Palestine.

 

The Painful Truth: The Haiti Disaster is Good for the Jews

Israeli media consultant in Maariv: ‘The Haiti Disaster is Good for the Jews’

by Adam Horowitz on January 24, 2010 · 16 comments

This website and others have come under criticism for discussing how Israel’s supporters are using the disaster in Haiti for propaganda purposes. Both the websites Hybrid States and War in Context have already rebutted this criticism head on, and it seems that the article below provides amazing confirmation of this disturbing trend in Israeli hasbara.

The following article appeared in Maariv, Israel’s second most popular newspaper, and was written by Tamir Haas who identifies himself as a “publicist” and “media consultant.” It was translated into English by Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel.

The Painful Truth: The Haiti Disaster is Good for the Jews

As sorry as we are about the horror in Haiti, the current positive attitude to Israel – thanks to the IDF delegation – shows that the country must engage in proactive as well as reactive hasbara.

Tamir Haas 21/1/2010, Maariv-NRG

At a time when our country is under media attack on the basis of harsh and anti-Semitic reports, and we are forced to contend with terrorists who have assumed the winning image of victims of war, one could say that the Haiti disaster is the best thing that could have happened to us. So why are blood, destruction, poverty, hunger and orphans good for the Jewish State? First of all because global attention has been drawn elsewhere and the international media have a more interesting story to cover. Second, because every disaster-area needs a hero, and right now we are it. I must admit that I would not be surprised if the image aspect of setting up a hospital in Haiti, as well as the IDF rescue efforts, was given greater weight than humanitarian considerations. If I am right, then finally, someone in the Knesset has done the right thing, deciding to take advantage of the opportunity to prove to the world how kindhearted and capable we are. And if the Foreign Ministry manages to make further use of the Israeli success stories in Haiti and market them to the world, all the better. We can only hope that none of our talented politicians is caught in front of a camera saying “We showed the world. We were really awesome in Haiti,” or something like that – a distinct possibility considering the recent mess with the Turks. Better to be modest.

Those in Charge Don’t see Hasbara as Warfare

The tough question raised by our success in Haiti is why we do well in the media only when we have the opportunity to star in another country’s disaster, and not on a regular basis? After all, you can’t have a natural disaster every day. The answer to the question is a lack of concerted effort to garner sympathy from the countries of the world, alongside behaviour that actually creates antagonism, such as humiliating ambassadors on camera. Before criticizing current hasbara practice however, we must realize that our biggest problem lies in the way we approach the entire issue of image. First of all, our elected representatives see themselves as politicians rather than statesmen, and so prefer to focus on their own personal interests, rather than on those of the country. Every Israeli citizen is knows this, to the point that we can’t stand our own leaders, so why does it come as surprise that the rest of the world isn’t too crazy about us either? Second, those in charge of the country’s PR don’t see hasbara as warfare, just like any military operation, intended to safeguard and promote our national and security interests. If hasbara were to receive the attention it deserves, with the kind of funding that security gets, our media performance would be better, Foreign Ministry officials would be more professional, foreign ministers would not act like rookies, and most importantly, we would have long-term plans and strategies.

Proof of Amateurishness and Lack of Professionalism

You want proof of the amateurishness and lack of professionalism I’m talking about? Here: “Hasbara is the responsibility of the IDF, not the Foreign Ministry”. This is what Danny Ayalon told participants at a recent conference of the Israel Public Relations Association. Does this mean that there is no hasbara coordination between the IDF and the Foreign Ministry? Is this how Ayalon washes his hands of Israel’s image problem? If so, is it any wonder that he behaves so recklessly, setting the Turkish Prime Minister up for a slam dunk? After all, he seems to think that the consequences, in terms of Israel’s image, are not his responsibility. In the above statement, Ayalon doesn’t even bother to hand some of the responsibility to Information Minister Yuli Edelstein. If the Foreign Ministry doesn’t give a damn about the Information Ministry, why should anyone else?

We have to stop concentrating all of our efforts on reaction and start taking the initiative. There are a lot of things we can do to facilitate hasbara: subsidizing tourism from countries in which Israel suffers from a relatively poor image, or a hasbara unit that would focus on marketing the stories of victims of terrorism (like they do in Gaza), or hasbara designed specifically to appeal to countries with strategic importance, etc. But before we do anything, we must first understand that hasbara is war and should be treated like any other aspect of homeland security. After that, we can move forward.

Note that Richard Silverstein is on this story too.

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http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/043/715.html

 

 

http://warincontext.org/2010/01/23/the-painful-truth-haitis-disaster-is-good-for-the-jews/

‘The painful truth: Haiti’s disaster is good for the Jews’

By Paul Woodward, War in Context, January 23, 2010

If I came up with a headline claiming the devastation in Haiti is “good for the Jews”, I could reasonably be accused of being anti-Semitic. But it’s not my headline. It comes from this report on a site run by Israel’s popular Hebrew daily, Maariv.

Every disaster needs a hero, the report says, and the heroes in Haiti are the Israelis.

The message that Israel is saving Haiti was likewise captured in an editorial cartoon in Yediot Aharonot which shows American soldiers digging for earthquake survivors. A voice from beneath the rubble calls out, “Would you mind checking to see if the Israelis are available?”

Bnei Akiva, the largest religious Zionist youth movement in the world, in partnership with Latet, an Israeli humanitarian aid organization, launched a Haiti appeal saying: “We are not only helping Haitians with their tragedy, but uniting the Jewish world and demonstrating the Jewish values of the State of Israel. We believe that it is a Jewish duty to help the people of Haiti. As the representative of the Jewish people, the State of Israel is leading the relief effort.”

An Associated Press article I linked to yesterday describing the exodus of Haitians fleeing from the ruins of Port-au-Prince, strangely was subsequently replaced by a report describing the rescue of a 22-year-old man by an Israeli search team 10 days after the earthquake leveled much of the capital.

In Haaretz, Bradley Burston writes:

Over the past week, the work of the Israeli medical team has become a kind of Rorschach for how people view Israel and Israelis. Most of the comment, it must be said, is supportive. Even on the part of those who cast the humanitarian misery in Gaza in contrast.

But for a shocking number of others, the bottom line is simple: Israel, and Israelis, can do no right.

In its most extreme form, there are those who have accused Israel of using the Haiti catastrophe as a new reservoir for harvesting organs.

But even many of those who shun blood libels, have seized on the Haiti mission to bash Israel, revealing in many cases a hatred – and a bigotry – that borders on the visceral.

Would Burston lump me in with the anti-Israel commentators? Maybe.

Do I think the Israeli doctors, nurses and rescue teams now working in Haiti are all toiling away purely in the service of Israel’s international image? I doubt it. I would expect that for most of these individuals, their response is like that of most of the other foreigners now providing relief to Haitians: it is above all a human response to human suffering.

Is there such a thing as an Israeli response or a Jewish response or an American response to human suffering? If so, it is laced with vanity.

To say this is what we do because this is who we are is to preen oneself in front of a mirror of self-praise. It is undignified. It spies a reward in someone else’s loss.

In this mirror, Israel now sees an image of itself as a big-hearted nation admired around the world for its humanitarian efforts in Haiti. But the self-satisfaction will be short-lived. Before long this glimmer of goodwill will once again be overshadowed by the enduring reality that in the minds of most Israelis the suffering of others seems just as likely to provoke callous indifference as it does an open heart.

The big Israeli heart shrivels at the sight of a Palestinian.

As Larry Derfner wrote in the Jerusalem Post:

… the IDF field hospital in Haiti is a reflection of something very deep in the national character.

But so is everything that’s summed up in the name “Gaza.” It’s the Haiti side of Israel that makes the Gaza side so inexpressibly tragic. And more and more, the Haiti part of the national character has been dwarfed by the Gaza part.

Gaza, too, is a matter of life and death – not just for the people who were trapped in the rubble there not long ago, but for Israel. When will this big-hearted nation stop being heartless to the people in Gaza?

 

A Kafkaesque tale: Musalah’s three years

The story of a Christian, law abiding teacher in Beit Sahour, whose life was almost destroyed by the occupation authorities.

Musalah’s three years

By: Ada Ushpiz.  (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)

Ha’aretz, 12 June 1992

Mikhail Musalah, a teacher from Beit Sahour, graduate of Bir Zeit. was among the latest detainees in the town’s tax revolt three years ago, but only this week, after a series of trials lasting over two years, the series of harassment and damage he has been exposed to since will possibly cease. This is a story with a happy ending, and in that regard it is an unusual story concerning occupied Palestinians, but it reveals a part of the everyday’s repressing reality in the Territories, which is often cruel especially towards the "upright citizens" of the occupation who try to confront the army and to obey the law without denying their loyalty to the Palestinian struggle, becoming trapped in impossible situations.

On a Sunday morning, in mid-October 1989. when the Christian residents of the town were in church, the Israeli tax collectors under army guard appeared at Musalah’s home and confiscated everything they could get their hands on. ‘It was expected", says Huda, his wife, with a smile of resignation. "They had already been at our neighbors’ and we awaited our turn. They burst through the door as if we were dangerous criminals. Mikhail was at church and only my children and their friends were at home, all under the age of five. They burst out crying just at the sight of them. They emptied the living room of sitting arrangements and tables. They only refused to take the black and white elevision. "Give that to your child as a toy", one of the soldiers told her, and confiscated instead the color television from the home of Mikhail’s brother in law, in the next door apartment. "This is on Mikhail’s account", the tax official explained. Huda, a graduate of Bethlehem University in English literature, tried to contain the situation, "Why should you act inhumanely?" she asked the soldiers, and tried to calm the children. "But I was still in shock. I knew what to expect. I was not afraid, we were part of a general non-violent struggle and we believed in our cause, but still, the soldiers, the guns, the rudeness, the shoving, the violence, shocked me. I had never experienced such a thing, Here we are ali educated people. I felt a kind of helplessness, which even today I find it difficult to describe’, One week later customs officials appeared in the family’s olive grove, looking for Mikhail. "I heard the shouts "Mikhail, Mikhail"! and went to them". he says. "One of them told me: ‘Now, my friend, submit a report, pay, and we will pretend that we are arresting you, we will take a few things, and in a day or two we will release you and return every thing’. I said: “No’. They said: ‘You are a fool’. I got angry, and I told them that I might be a fool. but they should speak politely".

The customs officials took him to the family’s furniture shop registered in his name although he does not work there, and emptied it of merchandise worth about 70.000 Shekel. Mikhail was placed in one of the last waves of confiscations and arrests, directed at breaking the Beit Sahour tax revolt. A closure was imposed on the town at the time. Large trucks with cranes went through the town’s alleys, amassing furniture, refrigerators, washing machines and everything else, ultimately estimated at millions of Shekels worth. A relatively small representation of 30 tax refusers were arrested and sentenced to various periods of imprisonment and to fines. Mikhail did not know at the time, or did not want to know, that his family had paid all its debts to the Civil Administration, apparently secretly, and that his name appeared together with others on a piece of paper distributed by the income tax commissioner to check posts in June 1989: "These fellows have paid their dues to income tax".

Beit Sahour. a town of 13.000 residents, most of them middle class Christians, well-educated, many of them of free professions, became during the Intifada one of the spearheads of the Palestinian struggle in the West Bank and the power center of the Popular Committees. Along with that, like many of the West Bank residents, many of its residents also adhere to an intricate dialectic of walking among the drops in their relationship with the authorities. The magic words. "Israeli democracy", are constantly on their lips. "Why is a people who suffered so much in the Holocaust unaware of the suffering of others", they voice well known sentiments.

The relative comfort of the Beit Sahour residents increases, as may be expected, the feeling of discrimination, the ideological awareness of the occupation’s effects and the sensitivity to the lack of infrastructures, the backwardness of the health and education systems, and the much higher taxes than in Israel. The high taxes, called "enslavement taxes" in the town. are an especially painful point for Beit Sahour’s small merchants, who eke out a living. Already in 1988 the town residents embarked upon a united non-violent protest and gave their identity cards back to the Civil Administration, after the latter had confiscated the identity cards of dozens of residents in order to force them to pay tax debts. Since then the town has participated in the Intifada: demonstrations, stonings, detentions, wounded, dead, curfews. During the past few years Hamas’ strength in the town has grown, but the town continues still to serve as a well liked site for the Israeli peace movement demonstrations and rallies.

That is how Seit Sahour was even then, in 1989, when it was the only town to respond in its entirety to the call of the PLO’s Supreme Command for a tax revolt. The immense media resonance, the feeling of internal solidarity which accompanied the struggle, the organization for self sufficient food supply and the filling the warehouses in case the closure lasted for a long time – all of these left no room for anyone who had grown tired. The social pressure was sweeping. Even residents who had previously preferred to keep quietly good relations with the Civil Administration, were now recruited to the revolt. The tax collectors and army who searched for cracks in the revolt at any price, had no pity for those who appeared to them to be a weak link, since he or his family previollsly had good relations with the authontles, and pushed him into what was for him an impossible corner.

Mikhail Musalah, aged 44, father of five, does not consider himself a political person. Had he been an Israeli, he would certainly have been considered a model citizen, but he is "a proud Palestinian", in his words, and is not prepared to denounce his people’s national struggle. Prior to his arrest during the tax revolt and after it, he never had any trouble with the Israeli law. He avoided confrontations with the authorities, and even today he is afraid of trouble: When Civil Administration decided to transfer him from heading the "AI-Hajaj junior high school" in Tuqu’a to heading a high school In Belt Sahour, he was showered with compliments. You are the ideal candidate, they told him, you are clean, you are not politically involvedi you are the man we are looking for. In April 1986 there was a demonstration at his school. Soldiers arrived and demanded that he will give the names of the "inciters". Mikhail refused. “I am an educator", he told them, "not a policeman". He was immediately suspended, transferred to an e!ementary school as a plain teacher, "and in order to humiliate me, I was also sent to attend a teachlng course in Ramallah, for beginning. teachers". When the tax revolt broke out, he was not prepared to benefit from the good reputatJon of his family which had always paid its taxes on time, refused to be a strike breaker, and preferred to be arrested and stand trial. "From that moment I turned from a teacher into an offender, from a normal person Into a crimlnal. I was taken from one prison to another and from one court to another. Many days we were starved. There were places, like Dahariya, where we were allowed to shower once every ten days, twenty. minutes time for 15 people, and whoever did not have enough time had to do without a shower. In Anata jail, a place open to the winds, we shivered from the cold for 20 days, 75 people in an asbestos covered shed wlthout walls. Entire days without any activity, without newspapers, without a single book, except for children’s books for studying English and Arabic, which we found in a closet there. Already in the beginnlng, at Bethlehem prison, they handcuffed us and made us stand facing a wall for long hours. We asked them to handcuff us with our hands in front, so that it would be less painful, but the soldiers refused. Those are the orders, they said: They put us on a bus and forced us to lay on the floor like animals. There were doctors among us, pharmaclsts, merchants, whose only crime was not paying taxes. Why was it necessary to humilitate us: I kept seeing before my eyes my crying daughter, whom a soldier pushed away and did not allow me to embrace in parting".

Mikhail Musalah was sentenced to six months imprisonment and a fine of 2.000 Shekel or 60 days imprisonment. He preferred to be imprisoned rather than pay the fine. His lawyer, attorney Shlomo Leker, the attorney of many other such detainees, appealed. He argued that he worked in education, his taxes had been duly paid, automatically deducted from his salary, and that he did not profit from family property registered in his name. The tax examination showed that the Musalah family’s debts were marginal. The offense was recognized as being merely technical. In mid-December 1990. the court accepted the appeal changing the imprisonment for a suspended sentence and a fine. As happened to all Beit Sahour residents the confiscated merchandise was sold at an auction for a tenth of its worth, without there having been an evaluation as required by law. But contrary to other residents, in Mikhail Musalah’s case that was not the end of the story, but its beginning.

On January 22 he received notification of his dismissal from his teaching post from the education commissioner in Judea and Samaria (sic). The pretext: Regulations 132(a) and 144(f) of the Jordanian Civil Service Regulations of 1966, which have long been invalidated in Jordan itself, which permit the firing of a public employee who was sentenced to a prison term for an offense of harming state security or of disturbing the public order. No effort was made to check whether Mikhail had appealed against his sentence and what were the results of that appeal. "I felt that my world had collapsed", says Mikhail. "I had been a teacher for my entire life. I lost everything, my work, my property, my dignity. Being in prison was a harsh enough experience, but now I was left without a job. Even today, I often wake up at night and ask myself: What did I do to deserve that? All I did was participate in a non-violent demonstration".

Exhausted from the lengthy struggle, Mikhail was willing to suffice with a pension, but the Israeli pension committee rejected even that request, arguing that the law permitted it to deny pensions to criminals. The Jordanian pension law, after being futher amended by an Israeli administrative order, grants the right to pension only to public employee who has completed 20 years work, while Mikhail had completed only 19.5 years before being fired. In the letter of reply, Yaron Herman, deputy legal advisor of the Civil Administration, meticulously listed the articles of the Israeli amended pension regulations (Judea and Samaria) which granted htm the right to deny Mikhail his pension. Attorney Leker tried to settle the matter in a telephone conversation with Herman. In spite of the dismissal having taken place illegally, he explained, Musalah would accept it if he got the pension he was entitled to. To his surprise. Herman accepted it and in late April a letter arrived from the Civil Administration announcing to Mikhail that "The pension commitee has decided to authorize a full pension to which he is entitled". But the implementation of the decision took time, and ultimately Herman went back on his letter claiming that there had been a misunderstanding, announcing that the committee had only authorized for Mikhail a one-time compensation amounting to 16.501 Shekel, instead of a pension which could amount to 130.000 Shekel. considering a life expectancy of 30 years.

"At that point I gave my attorney full authority to do whatever he considered right", says Mikhail. "I had despaired. I did not want to suffice with compensation, but my family put pressure on me. I needed cash and I did not believe that I stood a chance of defeating the Civil Administration". Leker agreed to a compromise on Mikhail’s behalf, after he was given an unequivocal promise that the money would actually reach his client. The Civil Administration hurried to have Mikhail sign a form forfeiting his rights, but one day after the form arrived at Herman’s office a letter reached Mikhail from Nissim Vaknin, deputy tax staff officer, announcing that they intended to confiscate the compensatlon money toward debt of about 13.000 Shekel to income tax. "That was bad, although I didn’t raise the posslbility of violation of an agreement", says Leker. I had negotiated with certified lawyers, everything was signed and sealed, but when speaking about the legal system in the Territories we should know that It apparently adopted the Civil Administration’s policy of intentional harassment, of making life miserable for the Arabs. All the legal and moral norms are completely changed there".

Leker appealed to the appeals committee at the military court in Ramallah, usually staffed with reservists and not by officials, once agaln, gambling for the entire stakes, and won. The committee decided that the dismissal was illegal, not because it relied on an archaic Jordanian law, which allows severe penalties for any disturbance of the order in the broadest meaning, which does not exist in a democratic state. but because it relied on an unsuitable pretext. The appeals committee also stated unequivocally, contrary to the Civil Administration’s claim that “suspended imprisonment? could not serve, as a pretext in order to dismiss an employee. Mikhail Musalah ‘could either return to his job or receive a pesnslon. These days the Civil Administration should implement the appeal decision. If It denies it, Leker will appeal to the High Court of Justice. The Civil Administration refused to comment on the affair.

‘A dog in Tel Aviv lives better than we do’

Border Guard jeep No. M-20-471 drove at a mad speed over the immense sand yard, scattering the masses of people with its wheels and leaving a cloud of dust in its wake. It drove many times, back and forth, back and forth. That is exactly how they round up cattle. In the jeep sat the cowboy, a Border Guard soldier whose blue cap also gave him the look of a cowboy trying to control his herd. He had rage in his eyes combined with a strange smile when he drove thus, back and forth, into the sea of people. More than anytime else it appeared that he enjoyed his work to frighten the Arabs.

"A dog in Tel Aviv lives better than we do" 

Haaretz Supplement, 12 June 1992.     By: Gideon Levi (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)

Foreword: Although the first article in this collection describes the horrors of the Gaza Strip and the second the less bad situation in the West Bank, it can be seen that the methods of the Israeli rule are the. same In both: intentional humilation and arbitrary punishments. The only thing to add is that no word of all what IS related here was mentioned by either of sides to the peace talks of whatever kind.  (Israel Shahak)

Border Guard jeep No. M-20-471 drove at a mad speed over the immense sand yard, scattering the masses of people with its wheels and leaving a cloud of dust in its wake. It drove many times, back and forth, back and forth. That is exactly how they round up cattle. In the jeep sat the cowboy, a Border Guard soldier whose blue cap also gave him the look of a cowboy trying to control his herd. He had rage in his eyes combined with a strange smile when he drove thus, back and forth, into the sea of people. More than anytime else it appeared that he enjoyed his work to frighten the Arabs. The latter withdrew, fearing the Jeep which threatened to run them down. Anyone’s momentary hesitation could lead to his injury or even to death. The cows also know when to withdraw on time, out of fear of the wild horse. And the cowboy continued. Each time the Arabs came close to the edge of the road, then the jeep rushed at them again, and then the fear and the withdrawal. Thousands of men thus moved back and forth for quite a long time, until the commander of the soldier noticed me writing down the jeep’s number. "Who are you", and "What are you doing here", and "Who allowed you to write down the number?" followed, but the action of rounding up the herd was stopped immediately. And what a surprise: there was much more order in the yard after the jeep’s raging was stopped. The Border Guard Spokesman said that the matter would be investigated.

All that happened on June 5, at the Erez checkpost. The sea of people consisted of thousands of men from all over the Gaza Strip, people who had heard on the radio that the closure of two week had been lifted. At dawn they hurried to the checkpost, desperately hoping for a day’s work. At 9:00 when I arrived there, they were already after four five hours of a hopeless waiting. Old and young, most of them unshaven, their financial situation beyond despair. And now they also had to flee from the terror of the jeep. For some time they have believed that the Border Guards are relatively the quickest to shoot – also according to the latest B’Tselem report on shooting in the Territories. but now they have learned that the Border Guards also have quick feet on the gas pedal. The incident took place at the margins of the central issue: Gaza has been closed off for two weeks, no coming or going. And even on that day almost no one managed to leave the accursed place. Before dawn the Israeli contractors came from the north and the workers came from the south, momentarily united in a brotherhood of masters and servants and by a common economic interest. Nothing going. Now one of those allowed to leave must be over 28 years old and everyone needs a red permit and a pink one too. Mainly, every Palestinian needs an Israeli employer who employed over ten employees in the past in order to obtain the work-permit. And thus they stood, crowded and hot, the ragged workers and the sweating masters with their beer-bellies sticking out, their necks and wrists loaded with gold, with cars of the latest make waiting the parking lot. One Israeli contractor arrived in a silver Mercedes with four Israeli flags, no less, posted on it. And everyone was angry. Even if for the masters it was a matter of getting rich and for the workers a matter of sheer survival.

Suddenly one person ran out of the crowd, almost as if possesed. He had received a permit. It has been some time since I have seen such a rush of joy. The man was swallowed up in his contractor’s Subaru van. He will make 40 Shekel [$16.7] today, and that sum means a fortune in Gaza, where this week you could buy a cartoon of tomatoes for eight Shekel.

Among the thousands milling around there were also those who tried to make some profit out of the situation: Local merchants tried to sell a yellowish drink for a penny. "Time’ cigarettes were sold from a mule drawn cart and peanuts out of a rusty bowl. That was the largest slave market I ever saw in my life. It was a shocking combination of power and poverty.

The combination of a show of power and of the humiliating circumstances created a horrifying scene, full of bitterness, a bitterness the likes of which I never saw before, even in Gaza. I tried to listen to one person and immediately dozens others swarmed around me, competing with each other in trying to express their suffering and rage. I listened, the atmosphere heated up and I felt that I am already in real danger. But people here still have something to lose and therefore no one takes any chances.

Soon they will not have anything more to lose and then, even they, the owners of the pink work-permits will become a walking danger to anyone they meet on their paths. "A tyre’, one of them tells me, "if you pressure it too much, it explodes.” And thus they spoke in the line for the work-permits which are not issued by the Labor exchange: I am under 28 and I have five children. What do they want me to do? Either they open [the Strip] for everyone or let them close it for everyone. Everyone is sorry about what happened in Bat Yam. Like one rotten tomato that spoils the whole carton. It happened – a crazy guy had killed and there are crazies among us and among you too. But because of one person? And when one of yours killed seven of us, did we try to punish all the Jews? I work in an abattoir. The abattoir of the Holon religious council. My salary is not so good – 50 Shekel a day. 20 Shekel go for transportation. I leave at 4:00 and return at 7:00. I have five children and for two weeks already there has been no salary. Now I have come, maybe the boss will come to get me. I work through a contractor. But the boss did not come. We have nowhere to go. Write this down. We have nowhere to go. They say that they opened the Strip for the world to see. but they did not open anything. It would be better if they closed it altogether. We are thrown here like dogs. A dog in [Tel Aviv’s] State Square lives better then we. A dog is allowed to walk around all night and we are closed up every night at 8:00. It is still light, but we are treated like the chickens. We are even forbidden to visit a neighbor – from evening until morning".  

Now another person burst into tears inside the crowd that has enclosed me: "I am the father of 13 children. Here is my ID card with all their names. Count them and you will see. Thirteen children. With my mother at home. I worked for six years for Ariel Doran. He lives in Herzliya. A renovation contractor. Now he owes me 4.000 Shekel I can not bring 1.000 Shekel for my children. So what should I do. And you, with your head, go think what will happen. And all because of the elections. They do not want workers from Gaza? Let them close up and go away from here".

The line at the barred window of the Labor Exchange grew smaller. People despaired and turned back. There will be no day’s work there. Some employers still try to work something out: They get together and try to get ten workers each. No luck. One Israeli observer suggests that the Histadrut bosses should be brought here. At least let them see. Even the young man offering tea from a filthy teapot and paper cups is not doing a good business. No one can afford tea now. When the commotion closed in on me, I broke through the enclosure and hurried to the car. The bottled up rage of those men was developing into dangerous proportions. Later, for that entire day, I drove the width and breadth of the Strip, from Erez to Khan Yunis, from Jabalya to Deir al Balah, along with several B’Tselem members. I heard the voices and saw the scenes. It took our hosts full two and a half hours to get from Khan Yunis to Erez, less than one hour’s drive on normal days. There were endless checkposts. with questions and checks of permits and waiting lines. There are no starving people in the streets of the Strip, but the everyday poverty is even poorer and more terrible, even if the Israeli TV reporter says from the inside an army jeep that there was "lively commerce" on the Strip’s streets.

Expressions such as a pressure cooker, a keg og gunpowder, a fire and match which could start a terrible flame, sounded very real. Everyone denounced the murder in Bat Yam and everyone was talking about the coming explosion. They still get flour and rice from UNWRRA, but even Gazans from Jabalya can no longer live on that alone. How longer can a Zaki Kaifu continue like that with his 13 children and his continuing unemployment? We reached his house in Jabalya early in the afternoon. A house? Nonsense. A yard covered with sheet metal. On the filthy concrete floor lay a baby in a makeshift steel crib. A rough army blanket covered the sweating baby. What chances does such an infant have, currently fed with powdered milk from a carton box sent by the European Community? "Action no. 52/91" was written dryly on that European carton, now lying on the floor in Jabalya. His father, Zaki, worked until recently at Ya’akov Mizrachi’s pickles factory in Bat Yam. 40 Shekel per day. 20 Shekel for transportation. Even previously the family never lived in a villa, but with the unemployment of which the end cannot be seen, the despair is even greater. When, if ever, will Zaki be able to return to Ya’akov Mizrachi’s pickles in Bat Yam. And what will happen in the meantime? Garlic is hung up to dry – perhaps for luck as well – on the mouldy wall: and chickens walk around the baby’s crib. He continues his nap. "The government is playing with fire", says Zakl. "The Arab worker is paying the price of the elections".

Later on, Bassam al-Bi?ari, Chairman of the trade unions in Gaza, draws the statistical picture. A young man who presents himself well, sitting In a new offlce In a quiet street in the center of Gaza. The government offices might sometime be located here, someone jokes. Not only the trade unions are located here. On the opposite house there is the construction and housing council. Further up the environmental center and not far from it the French cultural center and the British Council. Bi’ari specifies the damages of the closure: Each day 1.8 million Shekels used to enter the Strip from salaries and sales and were cut off for two weeks. 771 Mercedes cars 111 busses and 3,000 commercial vehicles and vans daily transport the workers from the Strip to Israel. Each Mercedes owner pays 50 Shekel per day as income tax and VAT, a truck pays 40.000 Shekel annually, a van 15.800 Shekel. Now they are all paralyzed but they must continue paying taxes as usual. The Strip transporters pay Israel 350,000 Shekel every day.and for two weeks alreadybthere is nowhere to take the money from. And the damage to agriculture. The price of a box of tomatoes was 30 Shekel until recently. Now the price has dropped to 8 Shekel. Thlrty tonnes of tomatoes have been collected in the greenhouses, without being marketed. How many tomatoes are needed in Gaza asks the trade union secretary. And cucumbers? The price was 11 Shekel per box; now, under he closure, it dropped to 1 Shekel per box. The trade unions distributed 3,000 boxes free of charge. Bi’ari says that the agriculture in the Strip loses 500.000 Shekel per each day of closure.

And the damages caused by the settlers: Bi’ari says that they have burned 250 dunums of wheat fields, 35 greenhouses, 500 citrus trees. eight tonnes of UNWRRA food and two UNWRA cars following the murder of the rabbi from Kfar Darom. The army could have prevented that, Bi’ari says. but according to him, the army wants to delilver a message. Besides our force: you also have to reckon with the settlers’ force – so learn the lesson. "Gaza , like is a box,” the chairman says, picking up the box of tissues from his desk, heavily decorated with gold. "Before 67 It was open on one side and closed on the others. It has been closed on that side and opened on the other. How you are trying to pressure us from all the sides. You have turned us into an experiment of Israeli politics. What more do you want from this poor box? The question is only when the explosion will come, because it will come. You press on the box and press. it goes on shrinking until the explosion.” There was something surrealist in that demonstration with the aid of the gilded box. "Let us now speak about Gaza’s economy. Who can say that there is an economy in Gaza. which has no factory with more than 15 workers. Where else in the world do people pay a Life Tax? That is not income tax, that is a life tax. We pay income tax even in a situation in which we have no income. Once the interrogators told me: You have to pay a tax for the Israeli air you breathe. In Israel, people who earn less than 1,400 Shekel do not pay taxes. Here, even those earning 600 Shekel pay taxes. Why is that? We also have Israeli identity cards, even if they are of another color". He produces a large cardboard board which demonstrates how Israel, in his view, robs the Palestinian worker. Minute details of [Israeli] employers’ tricks and of state exploitation. Israel, for example, deducts social security from the territories’ workers in order to pay for the army reserve service. There is loud laughter in the room. And they also pay the Histadrut 1.5 percent of their incomes as an "organizing tax". but what do they gain from it?

The Gaza sea road is always beautiful, even during closures. Not many come to bathe at the wonderful beach. Two years ago I drove along here in the company of attorney Samir Daher from Khan Yunis, and already then we spoke about the potential of those beaches. Now, again, he is in the car with me and nothing has changed in our conversation, or in his humor. At that time we spoke about the steel rods surrounding the adjacent Ansar 2 camp at the site formerly serving the night train to Cairo. A young soldier at the checkpost asked the driver of our car if he was permitted to carry 11 passengers. He said yes, and the soldier let us pass. Three minutes later we returned to the same soldier and he stopped us in order to ask the same question again. There was something inhuman about that question, the second time in as many minutes, without him having noticed that it was the same car and the same driver. Perhaps his concern for the safety of the passengers in the Gazan van had affected his memory. At Ntazrim B Jewish settlement all the street lights are lit, in the middle of the day. The Gazans in the car titter, that is how you waste your government’s money. Electricity also flows in the new fence surrounding the Kfar Darom Bible and Country Institute, just few paces away from the tent erected in protest against the rabbi’s murder. The first electric fence I have seen in the Territories has been erected here in order to guard the settlers. There was once only the barbed wire, then there were steel posts, and now there are also settlements behind electric fences. An interesting innovation. A picture of a skull and a warning in red, in three languages: "Danger! Hight voltage". Beyond the electric fence a soldier with a yarmulke and two armed settlers walk cozily around. The settlers’ children who came to show solidarity with their comrades at Kfar Darom in the protest tent get back on the bus. That morning stones were thrown by the settlers at cars of Arab workers trying to reach the Erez checkpost. Now the inhabitants of the tent are heavily surrounded by army forces. I am travelling In a Gazan car protected by Israeli soldiers from settlers’ stones. Israel is land of limitless opportunities.

And even today It is impossible to ignore the "Mista’arvim", the soldiers dressed as Arabs. The event took place in the main street of Khan Yunis refugee camp. Last Thursday they shot to death a masked youth armed with an axe. Now, at the scene of the shooting, an eyewitness, Khamis Abu Taher, owner of a stand opposite comes to tell what he saw: Shortly after 7:00 pm five masked youths arrived at the main street. Two of them started writing red grafflti, the color indicating they were members of the Popular Front. One of them dictated to the writers the long list of Intifada martyrs and two stood by, armed with axes, at the street corner, to stop the traffic until the painters had finished their work: Almost a routine. And then four cars stopped at the corner, and the masked youth – not knowing who he was signing to – instructed one of them to park across the street in order to block the traffic. The blue Peugeot 404 did as ordered, but suddenly all four doors opened and out of them came out six men in civilian clothing, one with a white Muslim skullcap and at once started shooting. The youth managed to shout to his comrades, but It was already too late. Said Khalil Magarer, aged 18, was shot in his leg and fell on the sand island separating the two sides of the road. The elderly eyewitness lays down to demonstrate how Sa’id raised his hands above his head while laying wounded. Abu Taher is willing to give a sworn affidavit about what he saw at that point: The soldier came over to Sa’id, leaned over him, and from a distance of several centimeters emptied at least a full magazine into him. Someone in the crowd gathering around us said that it was two magazines, and someone added that Iater another soldier came, checked if Sa’id was dead and shot another round into his body. In any case "he soldiers Immediately dragged the body away, putting it into the Peugeot and went away. Later a Border Guard jeep came by, but the rest of the masked youth had already disappeared. The long message they had writted on the wall has not yet been erased. Authorized military sources said this week that Sa’id was evacuated while still alive to a nearby army base, and only in the course of the medical treatment his death was determined. They also stressed that he had attacked the soldiers with the axe, and only when they felt that they were in real danger did hey shoot, and wound him. Go know. In the meantime, in the refugee camp street, tempers rose. The people accompanying us urged me to leave as quickly as possible. Attorneys Samir Daher and Ahmad al-Gandour from Palestlnlan Lawyers for Human Rights in Khan Yunis later explained in their modest office on the sea road in the city: that accordlng to thelr Investigation, the sequence of events was as that described to me in the street.!

Whlle we sat in their office, an elderly man suddenly burst into the room. Extremely upset, he took all sorts of forms and summons from his pocket and started explaining excitedly. His name was Suleiman Abu Shakir, he was 60 years old and one of his seven sons had been wanted for six months already. Like other relatives of wanted persons, he was harassed daily at the Civil Administration offices, having to sit there from morning to night along with other family members, until they will turn in their loved one. There is, of course, no chance of that. The Civil Administration is denying from time to time that it employs this method, the Attorney General has already warned them against using it, but the world keeps turning. Abu Shakir is especially upset now because his next summons is for Thursday, which is the Id al-Adha holiday. He produces a faded form. "Summoned to the Shin Bet "KHAY" (Khan Yunis). The word "Abu" standardly appears on the form, because all of the Shin Bet interrogators are given the alias "Abu", while "Zaher" was added in handwriting. All of Abu Shakir’s family members are therefore summoned to this Abu Zaher from the Shin Bet on the feast day. A vitally urgent security requirement certainly demands it. Once again they will sit there on the painted plastic benches on the sidewalk opposite the entrance to the Civil Administration offices from morning to evening, and wait, until they are sent home in the evening. Abu Shakir says that that is how it has been going on for six months. Every day he is summoned and therefore he has no chance of finding work. Perspiring, he is more upset than any other person I met that Monday in the Strip. This is what he said, his entire body trembling:

"What is this, aren’t Arabs human beings? Do not Arabs live? Don’t you have holidays? Where is your democracy? For six months I have been sitting at the Civil Administration and everyone sees me. Each and every day. See how we live. For seven months I have not been working and I am a father. By Allah, this is not a life. One night they come to my house and one night not, coming with guns and searching. I am going crazy. I am sixty years old. Let them catch my son, for heaven’s sake, but leave me alone. I am going crazy. From 12:00 I have been waiting to tell you what is in my heart. I told the officer: Open the prison for me and I will go in. Is this life? And now they do not let us enter Israel. They do not let us work. Come see my house, see how I live. There is no justice in this world. Take me and throw me into the sea, so I told the officer". He used to work in Ramat HaSharon, in construction. He wears a black skullcap, his face is unshaven, several of his teeth are missing. "It was never like now. We are no longer living. Now I have to take my sheep and slaughter it there, near the Civil Administration. That will be my holiday".

He has not yet calmed down when suddenly a distinguished man arrives with a green shopping basket in his hands, speaking fine English. He is the principal of a school who has received a scholarship to complete his higher studies in Britain, but the military government will not allow him to travel. He is also so very bitter, but in Oxford English. Later we returned north, to Gaza. Another lawyer and another angry monologue. This time it was attorney Raji Sourani. A distinguished young man, who speaks quietly and slowly: "The situation in the Strip at this moment is exactly like on the eve of the Intifada’s outbreak. which unsurprisingly broke out here. One match now could set fire to everything. The situation has changed here, radically: There is nothing to lose any longer. Call it despair, but it is a despair on both sides. The occupier has lost control and of the measures he employs and the occupied ones have nothing to lose. Perhaps only a real tragedy will attract attention to what is happening here now. Nothing is getting any better. On the contrary. You may say that objectively, each day makes the stiuation worse on every possible level ? military, political, psychological. Everything is getting worse in Gaza".

Sourani continued to etch an incomparingly dark picture about what is happening in his city and a sadness descended in the small room, until suddenly the voice of the muezzin came from an adjacent mosque. The muezzin’s voice grew louder. Souranl s voice grew fainter, until It was no longer possible to follow his words.

Note 1: The Israeli army habitually lies about all its actions in the Territories, but the lies in cases like this are more casual and worse than usual. Such units should be regarded as licensed murderers.

The crazy officer Moshe comes to a village

The village [Abud] got into the news four years ago when soldiers forced the inhabitants to smear paint on their faces and to dance and sing: "This is Purim".

 

The crazy officer Moshe comes to a village
By: Tom Segev  (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)

Haaretz, 11 February 1994.

Not far from Ramallah there is a little village named Abud. On the hills surrounding the village there are olive groves, and herds of sheep are grazing between the trees. The first almonds were flourishing this week. One day, three weeks ago, soldiers arrived at the home of Mahmoud Abd Al-Majeed, a peasant, father of eight sons and three daughters. The soldiers moved from one room to another. In the bedroom of one of the sons they found a live rifle bullet. The bullet stood openly on the table as a decoration. The soldiers confiscated the bullet and arrested five members of the family.

Ibrahim Abd Al-Majeed, the son in whose room the bullet was found, explained to the soldiers its origin. He makes a living by repairing sun boilers. Often it happens that religious settlers from the neighbourhood come to the village and shoot at the boilers, either as a revenge for stones thrown at them by boys of the village when they are passing by or just so. Near one of the boilers which he repaired, Abd Al Majeed found the bullet and took it home as a decorative souvenir. The soldiers did not believe him. They said that they must check if there is no workshop for the manufacturing of bullets in the house, they said. They brought heavy hammers and additional equipment and started to demolish the toilet rooms. They tore out the bathtub, the toilets, all the water taps, opened the floor and made holes in the walls. They broke doors and furniture. Last week the house looked as if a battle had been raging there. The work continued for hours, day and night. The 19 inhabitants of the house were forced to stay in one room. They were not allowed to use the toilets. The little children were disregarded. When the soldiers left there were no toilets any more. It turned out there was no arms factory either.

That night soldiers moved from one house to another in the village, woke up all the inhabitants, forced dozens of men to get up, get dressed and to wait not far from Abd Al Majeed’s house. It was almost midnight. This was their first meeting with the new officer. "I am crazy captain Moshe", he introduced himself: Moshe Al Majnoon [in Arabic]. "I came to establish order in the village. I heard there is a mess. Slogans on the walls. This will stop now. Do not get involved with me. I am crazy". To show that he meant what he said, Crazy Moshe took his gun and started shooting into the air. Then he told the villagers to go and see what he did to Abd Al Majeed’s house. The villagers went to see the house and became convinced: Captain Moshe is crazy. They have a lot of experience with crazy people. The village got into the news four years ago when soldiers forced the inhabitants to smear paint on their faces and to dance and sing: "This is Purim".

Mohammed Abd Al Majeed’s forefathers settled in this village 500 years ago, he told me this week. Yes, he told me, his son did something foolish when he brought the bullet home. He wanted something decorative for the bedroom. Some people find bullets and hang them on a chain around the neck. Abd Al Majeed called an assessor who gave him an evaluation of the damage. Some 15,000 dollar. Who will compensate him?

An Order from the Shabak

The Shabk maintains an almost absolute rule over the Territories and the residents of Gaza fear that even when self-rule is established, there will be no change in that unlimited authority. The Shin Bet decides who will receive a telephone, who will be allowed to study at a university, travel abroad or return from travels. The Shabak also determines who will go to work to support a family. The sanctions imposed on the Palestinians on orders from the Shabak require no explanation, they do not oblige any Israeli authority to officially accuse the victim, arrest him or bring him to trial for an offense or crime committed.

 


An Order from the Shabak


Davar, January 26, 1994

By Michal Sela  (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)

Early this week Ayman Arfa from Gaza arrived at the Erez checkpost as he does every morning. He has worked in Bat-Yam for 7 years at the same place. He had all the necessary documents and permits a Palestinian needs to exit Gaza and work in Israel. His ‘magnetic card’ was valid until July 29. He is 24 years old and has a wife and two children at home whom he has to support. He stood as usual in the long line and was stopped. He was not permitted to go to work and was referred to the office handling the issuing of magnetic cards. Arfa was requested to hand over the magnetic card he possessed and in return he received a card bearing his ID card number and stamped "opponents." The new card was valid until July 22. Not even his name appeared on it. Just a number and a stamp.

Arfa now faces six months of unemployment without social security payments. Incidentally, he pays social security each month, other workers in Israel. Jamal Nasser, aged 33, from Gaza, this week received similar treatment. He has worked in Tel-Aviv for 7 years and received a numbered and stamped card: "opponents." The two men approached the Gaza Center for Rights and Law and according to them, dozens of Palestinians met with a similar fate this week. In response to the inquiry of ‘Davar’ the security establishment stated that they were prohibited from leaving Gaza "for security reasons." In other words: the Shabak imposed a veto.

A similar calamity faced students from Gaza whose studies in the West Bank and abroad are conditional on approval from the Shabak. Hundreds of students from the Gaza Strip study at higher education institutes in the territories: universities, technological colleges, teaching seminars, nursing schools, etc. According to an order from the military government, residents of the Gaza Strip are prohibited from remaining in the West Bank without a permit from the security forces. According to the existing procedure, each student must obtain an exit permit from the Civil Administration authorities in his place of reside’1ce and a permit to stay in the place of study in the West Bank from the Civil Administration in that city. The exit permit from Gaza is only granted for one day, sometimes for several hours. Each student must report to the appropriate Civil Administration office and receive a permit, which is usually also valid for a limited period.

This week Nasser Kafrana from Beit Hanoun requested the assistance of the Chief Military Attorney, by means of lawyer Tamar Peleg from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel after he did not receive a permit to stay in Hebron. Kafrana, a student at the Hebron Polytechnic, left Beit Hanoun on January 3, armed with all the necessary permits, and reported to the Civil Administration in the city. There he received a notice from Lieutenant-Colonel Melekh Assaf, according to which he was not permitted to remain in Hebron, his studies would cease that very day, and according to the orders of the head of the Civil Administration he was prohibited from studying in the Judea and Samaria area. In her letter to the Chief Military Attorney, Adv. Peleg argued that this phenomenon was widespread and demanded his intervention.

The Shabk maintains an almost absolute rule over the Territories and the residents of Gaza fear that even when self-rule is established, there will be no change in that unlimited authority. The Shin Bet decides who will receive a telephone, who will be allowed to study at a university, travel abroad or return from travels. The Shabak also determines who will go to work to support a family. The sanctions imposed on the Palestinians on orders from the Shabak require no explanation, they do not oblige any Israeli authority to officially accuse the victim, arrest him or bring him to trial for an offense or crime committed. Any approach to the authorities gains a uniform reply: It’s an order from the Shabak. From the Israeli viewpoint it is difficult to argue with such "security considerations." The Shabak performs important and difficult work. It has numerous successes, mostly uncovering the persons responsible for hostile actions after the latter are perpetrated, rarely preventing violence in advance. Most of the Palestinians brought to trial were tried for actions they did, not actions they planned.

Frequently the Shabak brings heavy pressure to bear against people in order to force them to collaborate and perform services for the security establishment. The more common methods include prohibiting work, denying a telephone line, preventing persons from traveling abroad or not granting a relative a visit permit. The full jist of pressure methods appears in the espionage and detective literature. The victim and his. lawyer have difficulties in negotiating with the official authorities. Security considerations are secret, the Shabak operates without public supervision and the general atmosphere in Israel unconditionally accepts its mission and the inherent acts.

It is impossible to do without Shabak’s work but it is possible to criticize its actions and demand that it impose sanctions against persons only in necessary situations, not en masse. The starting point, that the Palestinian is basically a violent terrorist and will be forgiven only if he proves otherwise, is a wrong approach. Certainly in these days when both peoples are trying to build relations of confidence. It is a fact that despite the fervour of the security establishment, the hostile actions against Israelis, soldiers and civilians, have not ceased. The political negotiations exist, among other reasons, because Israel reached the conclusion that calm will not be achieved by means of force. The Palestinians’ feeling that the security forces’ "guillotine" comes down on their necks indiscriminately, may work as a boomerang against us.

The workers in Israel and the Gaza youths who study in the West Bank and who are prevented from working and studying idly sit at home. The poverty and distress increase, anger and bitterness ferment among them. The stronger ones will request assistance from lawyers. Few individual cases are sometimes solved and the orders of the security forces are cancelled. These are mainly cases in which the victim is represented by a strong lawyer or when there is the fear that a petition to the Supreme Court of Justice would embarrass the security establishment. The weaker, Like Ahmad Srour from Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem are forced into despair. Scour, who was recruited for informing missions, murdered his operator and after long months of living in hiding went with a friend from Jabalya to carry out a sabotage action against passengers in a Jerusalem bus. In the end he was burned to death in a car he had hijacked from a Jerusalem woman, who was also killed in that action.

The Battilo file: a non-story

A trial before the Military Court of Ramallah is right now in progress. This fact deserves a mention, since the overwhelming majority of cases end up with a deal [between the prosecution and the defense]. The rule according to which the defendant is to be considered innocent until proven guilty, may be acknowledged in the [Occupied] Territories, but if it is, then in [legal] theory only. The operating assumption is that all the defendants are guilty.[1] Accordingly, the Israeli authorities avoid wasting their precious time for reviewing evidence or for meeting other customary preconditions of convicting people. This would be too tiresome and superfluous anyway. Punishment is therefore fast.
The Battilo file: a non-story 

Tom Segev (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)

Haaretz, 19 July 1991

The building of the Military Court in Ramallah looks neater now. True, stench still comes out of the toilet at the end of the corridor, but the huge hall in which court sessions are heid has been renovated. The judges sit now behind a wooden barrier. A newly laundered Israeli flag, once dirty and dilapidated, [adorns] the wall. Emblems of the state of Israel have been repainted and look like new. It looks now as a real courtroom.

A trial before the Military Court of Ramallah is right now in progress. This fact deserves a mention, since the overwhelming majority of cases end up with a deal [between the prosecution and the defense]. The rule according to which the defendant is to be considered innocent until proven guilty, may be acknowledged in the [Occupied] Territories, but if it is, then in [legal] theory only. The operating assumption is that all the defendants are guilty.[1] Accordingly, the Israeli authorities avoid wasting their precious time for reviewing evidence or for meeting other customary preconditions of convicting people. This would be too tiresome and superfluous anyway. Punishment is therefore fast. Usually, its extent is determined by negotiations between the prosecution and the defense, sometimes with a judge participating. In Gaza, one talks in this connection of "a little price list". The [Israeli] military apparatus is being helped in meting out penalties by Israeli advocates, seemingly honest lawyers, serving in reserves. Outside observers are hardly ever present in such trials.

The story [under this investigation] began in the afternoon on May 8, 1990. In the village of Harbata in the Ramallah District a rumor spread that the settlers of the nearby settlement, Nili, had been burning a wheat field belonging to one of the villagers.[2] Tension [in the village] heated up, and the villagers convened a meeting. A white Volksvagen car passed by, driven by Danit Rom from Nili. The court file contains several versions of what actually happened afterwards. But all versions agree that stones were thrown at the car, hitting it and breaking its windows.

The driver was also hit. According to her husband’s testimony, her head was lightly wounded. She herself drove to the ”Asaf Harofeh" hospital, where she was treated, according to her own testimony, for about half an hour, after which she returned home, all by herself. She did not complain to the police, and she continued to drive through the village as usual.

Next day, her husband, Ra’anan Rom, went to the Jerusalem Police in order to file a complaint as is required by law. Incidentally, filing such a complaint is also a prerequisite for having the costs of the car’s repair defrayed by the insurance. In his complaint, Mr. Rom claimed that during the incident he was present in the car with his wife. The wife subsequently testified in the court that she was then alone.

Four months passed. In September 1990 the army detained 15 young men from the village. When they were brought for the remand of detention, the charge was ,"membership in a hostile organization". The charge against them submitted to the court was already different, but this happened after an additional lapse of several months. With one exception, all defendants are detained until the end of the legal process.[3] The decision to this effect was taken by [administrative] orders, issued by two [Jewish] advocates from Jerusalem, Yosef Eilon and Yonathan Livni, both serving as military judges during the stints of their reserve service. Eilon is the son of the Supreme Court Judge Menahem Eilon [4] while Livni gained notoriety as a result of his charity work for Soviet Jewry. Only one defendant brought before them [for a remand] was represented by a lawyer.

The charge was that the defendants were guilty of throwing stones at a vehicle used for puposes of transportation. Six defendants signed confessions, in which they incriminated other defendants who refused to confess. In the court all pleaded not guilty. The prosecution proposed a deal.[5] The lawyers for the defense rejected the proposal. More months passed, but the defendants remain in detention.

At some stage the file was referred to another prosecutor, lieutenant Ariel Attari, an aggressive slim-looking officer, articulate in verbal skills. Attari talked several times to Danit Rom, the settler from Nili. In the sequel of these conversations, he obtained from her a letter in which she described in rather dramatic terms, what had happened to her:

" … Even after all the windows were already broken, the mob kept throwing stones, obviously aiming at me. I felt that they wanted to kill me, not just to hit. At that time I was alone in the car, in the third month of pregnancy. I was hit in my head by a stone. I was bleeding profusely, so I needed a treatment in a hospital. Usually, I was travelling away from the settlement together with my older boy, then 10 months old. Luckily, a miracle happened and that particular time he remained with his father at home.

"The thought that my son could have then been with me generates hallucinations and anxiety spells which last until this very day. Just as they showed no mercy for me ? a completely innocent woman – they would not have shown any mercy for my son. The incident continues to haunt me. My anguish reached a level at which it disturbs my sleep and deters me from driving my car alone to return home".

The new prosecutor submitted an amended charge-sheet. Instead of stone throwing the new charge was attempted murder or major injury. According to the amended indictment, the defendants were awaiting Rom’s car, in the conscious intention to injure her.

Representing the majority of the defendants, lawyer Shlomo Leker protested against the amended indictment. In a letter to the Chief Military Prosecutor, colonel Menahem Finkelstein, Leker pointed to the identical version appearing in all incriminating confessions, in which the event was presented as due to a spontaneous escalation of tensions rather than to any premeditation. Evidence does not warrant the attribution of an intention to kill the driver to the defendants. In fact they all ran away from the site of the incident, after which some locals offered Ms. Rom some medical relief. The testimony of the woman settler, produced 7 months after the incident, contradicts the testimony of her husband submitted to the police the next day after it occurred, in which her injury was described as minor. No medical certification of her injury was submitted.

As if these arguments were not sufficiently convincing, Leker added the following observation in his letter to the Chief Military Prosecutor: "You will certainly agree with me that considerations of a prosecutor drafting a charge-sheet may have relevance. A prosecutor acting on behalf of the public interest should not be allowed to act out of personal, sectarian or political considerations". The prosecutor Attari lives in the settlement of Efrat. The Legal Adviser for Judea and Samaria (sic), colonel Moshe Rosenberg, did not like Leker’s argument. "I forcefully deny your transparent hint that the prosecutor who drafted the charge-sheet may have been acting out of personal, sectarian or political considerations", he wrote, adding that, as a lawyer, Leker could have been better advised not to raise such claims in his letter at all. Yet Rosenberg did instruct the prosecutor to redraft the charge-sheet. Its third version resembles the first. It charges the defendants with stone throwing, without imputing to them an intention of waiting for that particular car as a target.

The trial could finally begin. The defendants who had confessed asked the court not to accept their confessions as a proof, because they had been obtained through the use of force. A "little trial" [to test this claim] began. It all looked orderly. The chief judge, colonel Hakri, is a stockily built person with a knitted skull-cap on his head.[6] Two very young officers sit on each side of his. One of them finds it difficult to keep his eyelids open. The lawyer for the defense must keep reminding him. to listen to the proceedings. All claims of the defendants are rejected with dispatch, one after another. All their confessions have already been accepted as proofs. By this week only one defendants’s claim was still under consideration.

An individual who interrogated the defendants is a well-built male. He appears on the witness stand in a T-shirt and jeans, with a small revolver attached to his belt. He identifies himself only by an assumed name. He interrogated a defendant twice – and it happened by chance that both times this particular defendant needed medical help. Once because he became hysterical and the second time because he had breathing difficulties. Sheer chance, clarifies the interrogator. No, he does not know why: all he knows is that it could not have pappened as a result of any beatings, because he had never hit him. The lawyer for the defense shows to him the drawings of torture which appeared in the recent "B’tzelem" report. No, says the interrogator, it was not like that, it could not be like that, because that is against the regulations.

He is a nice-looking man in his twenties. From time to time, he glances at a defendant who claims to have been tortured by him, and then a sort of a wink can be detected in his eyes. Next to the prosecutor, an unidentified individual is sitting, also with a revolver attached to his belt. Each time the lawyer for the defense details the kinds of blows befalling the defendant, a sarcastic smile can be seen on this man’s face.

A short but athletic-looking man with curled hair on the back of his head suddenly enters the hall. He is a sergeant-major serving in the Dahariye Police Station [where an ill-famed prison is located]. The researchers who authored the "B’tzelem" report mentioned him by name. He whispers something to the fellow sitting next to the prosecutor and then leaves the hall.

The defendants are seated compressed. Some are teenagers, others in their twenties. Most of them worked in Israel before their arrest. Three are students, one is a shepherd. Only one knows English. He acts as an interpreter between Leker, who does not know Arabic, and other defendants. At one point the chief judge admonishes him for disturbing the proceedings, and threatens him with an on-the-spot sentence of two years in prison for contempt of the court in case he continues to talk to other defendants.

At some stage of the proceedings the lawyer for the defense learned that the chief judge had in his chamber talked with one defendant, who also happens to be a witness for the prosecution. Their conversation, held beyond the framework of court proceedings without the presence of the lawyer for the defense,[7] concerned the clarification of various details of the the incident. Leker requested the judge to disqualify himself. His request was rejected on the spot. Leker could have appealed to the Supreme Court. An appeal, however, would have stalled the proceedings for a long time, while the defendants have already been in detention 10 months!

Also present in the court are a girl-soldier who takes the minutes, and a soldier who translates the proceedings into Arabic. He talks loudly, while the proceedings go on in Hebrew. A big fan, of the kind used in old-fashioned Israeli restaurants, hangs from the ceiling. The benches for the public are empty. I was sitting alone there, thinking to myself what the story was about. The Battilo file, so named after one of the defendants, by itself does not make a story. It is just an application of a routine.

This week the trial was postponed again at the request of the prosecutor, so that he may go on vacation.

Notes:

1.    No Jewish settler is ever brought before an Israeli Military Court. The settlers are charged and tried (but very rarely) by Civil Courts in Israel itself. This is a feature of the Israeli Apartheid regime in the Territories.

2.    The wheat field was indeed burned, but the Israeli authorities never bother to investigate such "minor offenses" when committed by Jewish settlers. Since many years an iron-clad rule holds that the settlers are to be charged for violence against the Palestinians only if it ends up in death or severe injury. No other crimes of the settlers are prosecuted.

3.        According to an amendment to the Jordanian law enacted by one of the Israeli military governors (who act in the joint capacity of the only legislative, executive and judicial authority in the Occupied Territories), the detention of Palestinians charged with any offense whatsoever can be prolonged indefinitely.

4.    The father "represents" the religious Jewry in that Court. The son, also religious, is known to be close to the "Gush Emunim".

5.    Such deals can be made only if the defendant had confessed to whatever he was charged with.

6.    The distinct badge of "Gush Emunim" and their sympathizers.

7.    This kind of abuse is very common. I will hazard a guess that it has occurred in most cases heard during the last two years. It happens so often, because some defendants willing to betray their co-defendants by perjurious testimonies incriminating them, no longer trust the promises of leniency when given by the military prosecutors, who are known to have broken such promises in the past. But the reassurances of a judge are regarded as reliable, because the sentence is usually going to follow soon thereafter, and also because such defendants then presume, probably for good reasons, that the very illegality of a judge’s action will bind him to keep his promises.

The women are still hopeful, the elderly are not

The women are still hopeful, the elderly are not

Amira Hass  (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)

Haaretz, 21 December 1992.

Seven year old Salah stared astonished a the television screen and said: "There is Daddy". Along with millions of television viewers in the Middle East, and apparently around the world, on Friday night he saw his father, Dr. Omar Farwana, behind the bars of one of the deportation trucks and heard him announce in English: "We have been held here for hours without knowing what is happening with us. This is a massive deportation". Farwana family heard about Omar’s deportation from a neighbor, Faher Sharta, a Reuters and BBC reporter who had also been slated for deportation but whom external pressure brought to his release on Thursday. Before the television broadcast Omar’s father still hoped that there had been a mistake: Taher had indeed seen him taken to the bus, but everyone’s eyes had been blindfolded, and it was dark and cold. Perhaps they took Omar off the bus. But the broadcast dashed his hopes. He cannot describe in words how he felt when he thus saw his eldest son, the doctor, who studied in England and specialized in fertility problems in Australia. On Monday night, when Shen Bet agent "Abu Ali" and a group of soldiers came to arrest Omar, they concluded at home that it was detention for the purpose of interrogation. Omar was one of two representatives of the Islamic bloc in the Gaza Physicians’ Union. His first post had been at the religious association established by Sheikh Yassin in the late 70’s, al Mujma’ al Islami. His piety was therefore no secret. Omar was twice an administrative detainee in the course of the Intifada, his brother and several friends said. Twice he appealed and twice the length of the detention was shortened. Only one month ago he returned from his specialization studies in Australia. "They let him travel without any problem and let him return. In Gaza he works at two clinics: From 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. as a general practitioner, and from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. as an infertility and impotency specialist. At 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. there is a curfew, and then he receives patients at home. When did he have the time to do anything else?"

When the scope of the arrests became known, the family surmised that "Rabin simply needed to show his credentials to the Israeli public". When they heard about the deportations, they thought that Shabak had succeeded in locating many culprits. And when they saw Omar among them, "we finally understood that the deportees were a way to satisfy the Israelis and to cool off their feelings of frustration and revenge". Even for Omar’s brothers it was difficult to describe what they felt when they saw their brother among the deportees. My two year old son, said one brother, saw his uncle on television and announced: "When I grow up I will kill all of the Jews". With an apologetic smile the father tried to explain that the boy is only two years old, and only knows that his uncle was taken away, and had no other way to express his anger. "That is why he indulges in fantasies that he will kill all of the Israelis".

– The Israelis or the Jews?

"Kill the army, he said, kill the army". Only men were in the living room of the Farwana family, and between the cups of tea they drank, the conversation wandered from the snow and cold In Lebanon to non confidence In what is called the peace process, from Abu Omar’s recollections from his native city Haifa and Wadi Nisnas, to the difficulties of life under prolonged curfew. Finally the conversation came round to Hamas. "We all support Hamas", someone said, and another tried to explain: "He means that we are all Moslems, that we all believe in the Quran. Even the Fatah".

– What about a political solution to the conflict?

"Is it alright for me to live in your house? Is that alright? You yourself heard. Abu Omar comes from Haifa".

– Does that mean that Israel must be destroyed?

"Under an islamic state, each person will live as a human being. Even Hamas does not say that Israel should be destroyed".

The stares fixed on him from all sides forced him to re-phrase his words: "In any case, Hamas does not say that the Israelis should be wiped out". The solution is, Omar’s father tried to conclude, that everyone should have the same rights and the same duties.

– In one state or two?  

"In an Islamic state". Following a short consultation in the room it was agreed that two states were permissible, with federative or confederative relations between them. "The main thing", summarized Omar’s father, "is that we should have a state in which we will not fear someone coming in the middle of the night and expelling us".

In the adjacent room sat the women: Omar’s mother, his grandmother, his young aunt – a mathematics teacher, dressed in slacks, head uncovered. The hair of Sabah. Omar’s wife, is covered with a white kerchief. She is 31 years old, never worked outside her home, but did study Arabic at the Islamic University in Gaza, "in order to know and to help the children, when they grow up".

– Is not it hard for you to be at home all the time?

"The children need me, and so does my husband". Unlike her father-in-law and brothers-in-law, she expects Omar’s return in the next few days. "The entire world is looking, and God is with them". She knows how hard it is for him, not the physical conditions as the longings for the homeland. "Omar was never attracted to work in another Arab state, where he could have made more money. He did not even stay in Australia any longer than he had to". She knows, she says, that his faith strengthens him. Only after we left the Farwans home did someone say that Omar’s father had been one of the senior communists in the Gaza Strip.

In the Asquia neighborhood as well, there were some families who knew about the deportation of their sons only when they saw them on television. The parents of Ashraf Mansi Mohammad Nassar did not know that their son had been deported until Saturday morning, one hour before we arrived to speak with them. The father, a municipality employee who is permitted to be out during curfews, went to the Red Cross offices to check the list of deportees, and did not expect to find his son among them. "On Monday night we woke up from the soldiers’ steps on the stairs. The children ran from one room to another in panic, crying, shouting. But Abu Ali from the Shin Bet promised us that he had come to take Ashraf for only two days". Ashraf and Abu Ali had already met: Ashraf went to the Civil Administration to apply for an exit permit in order to study engineering in Libya, and Abu Ali himself, his mother said, had promised that he could leave. On the night of his arrest the mother hurried to give Abu Ali the medications for her son – the previous day, upon returning from the Civil Administration, soldiers beat him up and at the hospital he was treated and given some antibiotics. Now, in addition to the immense anger at the false promise he was given by the Shabak agent and the beating, she is also concerned about his health. Did he get the medications? Ashraf had never been detained. Since he completed his high school studies at aI Carmel high school, two years ago, he only thought about continuing his studies, his mother says. The family comes from Beit Daras, near Ashdod. The mother was seven years old when she fled with her family from the Israeli army, and she vaguely remembers their large home, and that they had land. She also remembers that they walked to Beit Hanoun, and from there were taken by buses to Gaza. To this day, they are known in the neighborhood, populated by both veteran Gazans and refugees from ’48, as "the Darasawi house".

The deportation of Ashraf and the others, everyone in the room summarizes, only strengthens what they previously argued: there is nothing to be expected from the peace talks. "Israel did not cancel even one of the regulations of its occupation regime", Ashraf’s mother explains. The 13 year old brother, Rami, was elected to phrase everyone’s opinion: "The street will now be more violent towards Israel. The whole deportation is not to its benefit. Israel will only lose". And while he speaks, shouts are heard from the street: Dozens of children who despite the curfew were playing in the sand had noticed a group of four soldiers coming towards them. "Hey you bastards, you soldiers,” they shouted, and withdrew to the homes, throwing stones at the advancing soldiers.

Nura. Ashraf’s sister, who had sat in the room until that moment with her face covered by a veil, following the conversation with only her eyes, is married to Jamal Salah, a bookkeeper and chairman of the Bookkeepers’ Union in the Gaza Strip. He was administratively detained in Ketziot three times. He and his three brothers, known in the neighborhood as the pillars of the most zealous believers, were also arrested last Monday. "On Friday evening", Nura recounts, after we moved into her apartment along with all of the women, "the children looked for their father among the photos broadcast on television, but did not find him. Only on Saturday morning we learned that all the four brothers had been deported". Nura expects him to return soon "and everything will return to normal", As long as they are not returned, she says, and is joined by the other young women in the room, "there is no use to continuing the talks". Nura’s face is now uncovered, and she frequently smiles, like other young women in the room. Only her mother – Ashraf’s mother – does not smile. "Most of the people here are Hamas", say the women. "No", say Ashraf’s mother and Nura, "they are all Moslems". "When the deportees return", Nura says, "we will talk".

– About what?

"Everyone wants peace", the mother says. One of the young women says that we will speak about an Islamic state from the Jordan to the sea. "Gaza and the West Bank are not enough for all of us. In an Islamic state everyone  – even Jews – will live as free people".

– How will an Islamic state be achieved?

"By stones".

"By negotiations", says another, "but Israel will not agree".

– So there will be a war.

"Yes".

– That means that you intend for your children to fight their whole lives?

"No. According to the Islamic faith war will come form outside. Nura is not afraid of existentional difficulties due to the deportation, since in any case she expects Jamal’s speedy return. She studied at the secretarial school in Ramallah, but has not yet worked outside her home, because of the children. When they grew up, she will go to work: "Certainly, my husband allows me to work". "The women have hope", one of the neighbors said, a young pious teacher, when we left Nura and Jamal’s home, and it was possible to detect a note of scorn in his voice. Another neighbor hurried to correct him: "The young women have hope, but for the elderly, who came from Beit Daras or from Haifa or from Majdal, everything becomes an extension of what happened in 1948. It is hard for them to imagine the deportation as a temporary thing".

– Money is only enough for the necessities.

Each curfew is more oppressive than the last, more paralyzing than the last, with each curfew the financial losses of the workers and store and workshop owners and teachers and clerks get heavier. In spite of the curfew, there is no lack of food in the shops, except for fresh fruit and vegetables, and whoever has money can slip out of the soldiers’ vision and sneak into ther neighborhood grocery. In any case, many have already learned the lesson of the lengthy curfew during the Gulf War, and at least keep large quantities of flour in order to bake bread at home. But from many parts of the Gaza Strip come complaints aobut people not having money to buy food beyond the most basic necessities. Thus, when the curfew was finally lifted for two or three hours – in Khan Yunis Gaza and Nusseirat – people did not flock to the shops.     ‘

Those possessing travel permits during curfews noticed that the soldiers – during this period of curfew – were more nervous than usual. You can see it on their faces, people say, that they are new in Gaza. They brought reinforcements of young soldiers, people estimate, and they are overwhelmed with fear. It can be seen by the way they stop the few cars.

The power and the weakness of the Intifada

The power and the weakness of the Intifada

 Shlomo Gazit (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)

[Shlomo Gazit is former head of Israel’s Military Intelligence]

Yediot Ahronot, 7 December 1992.

The Intifada was not a planned uprising. If we had reacted differently, on the day or in the first days of its outbreak, maybe it would not have flared up at that time. However, the Intifada was inevitable. The complex of the circumstances created a highly explosive atmosphere. All that was needed was one spark, and it was lighted in the Gaza Strip as a reaction on the tragical traffic accident when a careless Israeli truck driver hit a local vehicle and killed four of its passengers.

What was the political and psychological background that made the outburst possible? First, the time that passed since June ’67, since the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In the preceding 20 years a new reality emerged: 70% of the local population were born after the Six Days War. These young people have not known another reality besides the Israeli military occupation. Second, notwithstanding the long time that passed, no programme was on the political agenda that was supposed to deal with the Palestinian problem and to suggest to the population a way out of the deadlock. In the course of time, the policy of the "enlightened occupation" that was characteristic of the Israeli military administration in the beginning, a policy of minimum provocation, hurting the feeling of the inhabitants minimally had totally disappeared.     .

In the course of the Intifada, the old conventions of the Palestinian society, with its strong patriarchal tradition, were shaken. The veteran moderate leadership disappeared and a new leadership grew up, who had been forged in the Israeli prisons: Israel tightened increasingly the choking rope in the Territories, by taking steps toward a creeping annexation. Every free, and even not so free plot of land was seized either for security purposes and for the erection of new Jewish settlements. There was an increasing presence of Jewish settlers on the local population. The Palestinian defeat in the Lebanon war and the humiliating eviction of the PLO forces from Beirut symbolized the end of PLO’s armed struggle against Israel, and caused a justified feeling among the Palestinians that the Palestinian issue was entirely forgotten and will not be on any political agenda. The uprising has continued for five years. Erroneously, an approach is prevalent among us, that calls every Palestinian terror act and every attack "Intifada". This is wrong. Palestinian attacks and terror acts were also prevalent before. When we examine the Intifada and count the terror acts during that period, we are misleading ourselves.

What were the aims of the Intifada? The Intifada was first of all a Palestinian outcry: "If I do not act myself, nobody wiII do it for me." Against the background of the failure of the Palestinian struggle waged outside, the total lack of interest on the part of the Arab regimes and the international community to do anything for them, it was a struggle by the people concerned about thelr own fate, for raising the Palestinian problem and the need to stop the Israeli occupation to the top of tht political agenda, It was meant to be a popular struggle, abstaining as far as possible from acts of violence. The intentlon was to concentrate on demonstrative acts and on a policy to put an end to the administrative and economic dependence of the inhabitants of the Territories on Israel.

And finally, psychologically, the Intifada was to give the Palestinians in the Territories a feeling of pride by confronting Israel as equals.

What are the achievements of the Intifada? It was indeed a popular uprising that contributed a lot to the unification and to forging of the people (there is almost no family where there is no "Shaheed" [martyr] who has fallen in the campaign or with a prisoner who was in an Israeli prison). From its ranks arose a new, younger leadership with a different social and educational background than the traditional background.

However, its main success was on the political level: The Intifada brought up the Palestinian struggle to the top of international awareness, it forced the Palestinian National Council to accept the resolution of November 1988, that demands negotiations as a way to reach an agreed political solution, and it also forced Israel to look for and to propose a political solution – reflected in the political programme initiated by the government in ’89, and finally, it motivated the USA to intervene actively in order to bring the parties to the negotiating table.

Considering these successes, it is not less important to examine in what the popular Palestinian struggle did not succeed, and to examine the results that were not intended by the insurgents from the outset. No need to emphasize, that the main hope of the Palestinians was not fulfilled – Israel did not withdraw and has not evacuated the territories of Judea, Samaria (sic) and Gaza. On the contrary, the chief Israeli answer, entirely contrary to what the Palestinians expected, was a massive colonization that doubled the number of Jews in the Territories, the number of the existing settlements and the land belonging to them. Jewish settlements were one of the important factors that induced the Palestinians to start political talks. Israel has also learned to live also with the Intifada. Without underestimating the economic, military and human burden of the Intifada, we have entered a routine. The Arabs in the Territories were the ones who began to suffer from the continuous struggle – from a fatigue, an increasing economic burden and the natural human desire to return to a normal life, as far as possible.

The aim of a de facto disconnection of the Territories from Israel was not reached. Soon it turned out that this was an impracticable hope. Almost in every respect, especially the need of the population for the Israeli labour market, things returned to their old pattern.

However, some things occurred also that had not been planned: Though the Palestinian leadership, remembering the trauma of the internal struggle in 1936-39, tried hard to prevent the renewal of the inter Palestinian terror, the Intifada restored the norm of "liquidation of collaborators". This slogan covered a wave of many hundreds of brutal murders, in most cases committed without a reasonable explanation.

The Intifada produced deep sediments of hatred between the two peoples. This hatred explains also the phenomen of Arab knife stabbers who are motivated by fierce feelings, and the reactions of the Israeli mob after tough cases of attacks. These trends make the future solution infinitely more difficult, the more as there is always a danger that an unforeseeable incident might turn into a huge fire with repercussions exceeding the scope of a local incident. Perhaps more important and more dangerous than anything else is the strengthening of the Palestinian factors who refuse a peaceful settlement, headed by the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movements. Those elements thrive on a feeling of deep frustration, arising form the gap between the big hopes and expectations, and their non-fulfilment.

The balance of the past years is not unequivocal. It contains both achievements and failures. But the most important message in the final summary of the period is the outlook: A continuation of the Intifada (and there is no reason that it should fade and stop by itself) will harm the hopes of an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. The longer the Intifada goes on without a real advance toward a political accord, it will encourage and strengthen the forces who refuse to make peace, those who deny a political solution. And thus, more negative facts will be created and it will be harder to overcome them in the foreseeable future.

Curfew scenes

Next day, Monday morning, under the cover of curfew, a sightseeing bus arrived with 5-6 individuals – probably settlers – in the Rimal Quarter of Gaza, close to the house of the head of the Palestinian delegation, Dr. Haidar Abd A-Shafi. Noisy music was heard from the car. From the car stopped down some Jews with skullcaps, wrapped in prayer shawls. One of them was armed with a gun. Frightened inhabitants were looking at them from the windows. Nobody knew what the armed man was going to do. A military jeep or two arrived to guard them and the settlers in the bus offered them pancakes.

 

Curfew scenes

By: Amira Hass (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)

Haaretz, 28 December 1992.

Some burning tires in the darkness were the first thing we saw in the southern section of Salah A-Din Street in Gaza. A routinely fire, especially in those days ad curfew marked by the deportation to Lebanon. We slowed down and S. hooted and winked with his car lights so that the young men who broke the curfew should not think we are soldiers. They assembled there, hidden in the darkness, between the houses and the garbage heaps. Their shadows moved along the shut shop doors. Some of the youngsters shouted "Allahu Akhbar", others left the dark houses and removed for us a temporary barricade from the road. They had built the barrier between heaps of rubbish, iron scraps, empty barrels, a garbage carriage turned upside down – all were alternately lightened and darkened by the burning tires. It was 7 p.m. – "late", by the terms of Gaza.

We had just returned from Khan Yunis and the illusion of space and free movement during the drive turned at once into a depressed feeling. Later, when the fire of the tires was already behind us, we had to bypass a few deep holes in the road – no wonder that there are so many damaged tires in Gaza that are usable only for long burning and giant pools of rain water assembled in the course of the week in road junctions. In the absence of an orderly municipality and a reasonable budget, it will probably remain so many days. We have just passed luckily a few Israeli army roadblocks, one or two were marked and lightened by flames burning In bowels Inside the concrete pillars erected on both sides of the track. The fire played on the faces of the soldiers who stopped us, turned torchlight inside the car and on our faces and then read meticulously the series of permits and identification certificates that every "local inhabitant" must carry. It is hard to say what their eyes expressed, when they were standing there in the cold and in the darkness. Fear and alienation and nervousness or also hatred or perhaps just indifference and disengagement. In any case, it seemed not to bother them that we do not know if the signal with a remote lamp orders us to continue waiting or to continue driving. I read the fear on the face of S. A wrong interpretation of the intention of the soldiers, one start too early, and who knows how the soldier outside will react with his gun aimed at us. No wonder that the soldier is so nervous, said S. Curfew means obviously a temporary removal of all of us, hundreds of thousands, and the soldiers are already used to the empty streets, as if we all had disappeared. That is why each of us, who is going out freely, still rouses astonishment and suspicion among the soldiers.

We returned from the mourners in Khan Yunis, a day after six people were killed there by the well-aimed gunfire of Israeli soldiers. In Khan Yunis we were accompanied by H, a resident of the town, who was increasingly upset when we moved from one house of mourners to the other. You have turned all of us into Hamas, he said. Meretz has proved that Hamas is right, that there is no difference between the Israeli parties. What have so many soldiers done yesterday in the town? What have they done? We want Shamir back.

On the main highway to Gaza. opposite the Kfar Darom Jewish settlement, in an area of requisitioned land that was allotted to a Jewish Orthodox farming research institute, we saw a crowd of soldiers, and behind them, behind the barbed electrified wire fence surrounding the caravans of the Institute, a bunch of settlers was dancing. The festival of Hanukkah, I remembered. Next day, Monday morning, under the cover of curfew, a sightseeing bus arrived with 5-6 individuals – probably settlers – in the Rimal Quarter of Gaza, close to the house of the head of the Palestinian delegation, Dr. Haidar Abd A-Shafi. Noisy music was heard from the car. From the car stopped down some Jews with skullcaps, wrapped in prayer shawls. One of them was armed with a gun. Frightened inhabitants were looking at them from the windows. Nobody knew what the armed man was going to do. A military jeep or two arrived to guard them and the settlers in the bus offered them pancakes. Then they followed the soldiers to a military camp at the outskirts of the quarter.

In Gaza they ceased already counting the long periods of curfew imposed on the Strip since the beginning of the Intifada, and especially since the Gulf War. Nor do they expect that the army or the Civil Administration will announce clearly in all areas and neighborhoods, when the curfew will be removed, when will it be lifted temporarily to buy food and get some exercise outside. Nor is anybody excited about soldiers who like to have fun and drive around in jeeps at 4 a.m. calling in the loudspeakers something like "curfew, curfew, for a whole month", and the inhabitants try to suppress the fear roused by the noise of a helicopter buzzing at dawn. The silence during curfew is greater because also the muezzin is not allowed to call through the loudspeaker for prayer. And anyhow, during the days of mass curfew after the murder of Toledano, soldiers entered many mosques "of Hamas" and requisitioned all the loudspeakers found there. In the first days of curfew, the main streets were really empty. The emptiness was emphasized by a driving car from. whIch a branch of a palm tree was shown – sign of somebody’s death In the family – or a procession of a few crying women and a man carrying a dead infant wrapped in a woven carpet, on their way to the mosque. But gradually, the number of cars whose owners got movement permits during curfew, was growing, and more people were seen who broke the curfew, went around in the alleys and crossed the courtyards of houses to be with friends, with the family. In some places shouting soldiers were heard: Enter the houses, get inside.

This mass house arrest of hundreds of thousands of people creates a feeling of isolation, uncertainty and fear, that was still aggravated by the late publication of the names of arrestees and deportees and the difficulties involved in the disclosure of the names of the deportees. Therefore, many people, adults and young, without reading the analyses of the Israeli press, know that the arrests and the deportation were carried out at random. "I escaped the transfer", told me one who evaded the Shabak agent who came to arrest him – and he is not the only one. The very fact that the army or the Shabak came not back to look for him, proved to him and his neighborhood, that not he as an individual was important, but the number of arrestees that can be shown.

Also the story of Advocate Omar Abu Boresh, which passed from mouth to ear in Gaza, in spite of the curfew, only strengthened their estimate: On December 16, when he returned to Jebalya from Ketziyot Camp, visiting a prisoner, somebody from the office of the Consultant on Arab affairs in Civil Administration contacted him. Come, take your detained brother, he was told. And in the room of the Administration, two Shabak agents named Zaki and Abu Zaid offered him tea with mint and told him and another dignitary to wait there for an important meeting with Rabin. Suddenly they disappeared from the room, he tells, soldiers entered, tied their hands and eyes and said: Yallah, go to Lebanon. Both were driven to the prison compounds on the beach of Gaza, where they were kept detained till that night, the night of the deportations. In the evening the soldiers started reading the numbers of the detainees who were concentrated in that place. They did not get to his number – 54113. And he heard somebody saying in Hebrew: This is enough now, the bus is full.

No end in sight

Out of its 10,000 inhabitants, over 1,000 of the villagers [of Beit Furiq] have been placed under administrative detention in the course of the last five years, and 1,000 persons are being currently detained. Twelve wanted residents have been constantly on the run for the past few months. They live in caves in the mountains surrounding the village, slip out for quick visits once or twice a week. are received as heroes in any house on which door they knock. They are given food and drink, their clothing is changed and they are given supplies for the coming days of flight.

 

No end in sight.

 By: Anat Tal-Shit.  (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)
Yediot Ahronot, 7 December 1992.

Seven Palestinian martyrs, "Shaheeds", have been buried there since the beginning of the Intifada. Every child in Beit Funq can recite their names and the circumstances of their deaths. In the village, located several kilometers east of Nablus, the collaborators have also been murdered, in horrifying circumstances. Beit Furiq is usually considered the Palestinian village with the highest number of casualties since 1967 – 34 persons. It embodies the events of the Intifada from Its beginning and all along the entire five years: It may be seen as a small scale of the Palestinian struggle in the territories.

Out of its 10,000 inhabitants, over 1,000 of the villagers have been placed under administrative detention in the course of the last five years, and 1,000 persons are being currently detained. Twelve wanted residents have been constantly on the run for the past few months. They live in caves in the mountains surrounding the village, slip out for quick visits once or twice a week. are received as heroes in any house on which door they knock. They are given food and drink, their clothing is changed and they are given supplies for the coming days of flight. The village is proud to show off the eldest Intifada wanted, a resident of Beit Furiq, aged 57, a grandfather. He was previously caught by the authorities. but during the past two years he has been hiding in the mountains. But from Seit Furiq also came the murderer of Za’far al Masri, who served as the mayor of Nablus with Fatah’s approval. The murderer, Ahmad Knanana, a member of the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine, headed by George Habash, is currently serving a life sentence in Be’er Sheva prison. According to his confession, he also participated in the attempted assassination of the mayor of Jenin. After he was captured and confessed, bulldozers came to demolish his home in Beit Furiq. We meet with the brother, Wasaf, on the roof of a home overlooking the village, under a yellowing grapevine. Below, a cow is nursing her calf, chicken are brought to slaughter, children push a cart with bottles of olives oil, and the Shabab (youths) are rehearsing for the Fatah Day events, to be marked by the West Bank villages on the first day of 1993.

According to the legend, and the residents of Beit Furiq swear that it is true, even Yasser Arafat stopped over in the village on one of his escape routes in late 1967. The youths point to a ruin at the outskirts of the village, where Arafat lived for several days, and even went with the family who gave him shelter to work in the olive groves. The approach to the village is through a narrow and shabby road descending from Nablus. The road passes through a desolate valley, with fields on both sides, and a large garbage dump serving the entire region. Scrapped cars have been placed there, extending for several kilometers, to the outskirts of the village. The village is surrounded by forested mountains. On the far ridge are the white homes of Elan Moreh settlement. Due to its topographic situation the village serves as a transit for Intifada activists. It is located near the Jordan Valley. Only five hours by mule separate it from the river, through which the border may be crossed. The residents say that various items are smuggled by this way, including weapons. The villagers, who command the region’s paths, serve as guides for the escapees.

On the fifth anniversary of the Intifada the message coming from Beit Furiq is double edged. While the peace talks are lazily conducted in Washington, the villagers continue to walk the activist path. The youths’ training continues, enthusiastic youngsters are recruited, leaflets are printed, walls are sprayed and suspected collaborators are interrogated. A relative calm is attributed to the winter and the daily difficulties.

The first demonstration that marked the Intifada in the village took place only in mid-June 1988. The village’s black day was on December 23, 1990, the day on which two youths were killed and ten wounded in the course of riots near the village entrance. The latest incident occurred five days ago, when a line of army jeeps patrolled the village at midnight, an incident which passed in relative calm and without casualties.

We spoke with five people – a baker, a butcher, a driver, an unemployed and a student. All of them talk about peace, everyone wants peace. They are exhausted from the years of the Intifada, but make it clear that they will not be caught by any trick because they are tired and indifferent. They are prepared for every eventuality. Meanwhile, in the village alleys, in daylight, a symbolic parade of nine youths is held. They wore olive green uniforms, their faces covered with keffiyehs. They carried clubs, knives and cans of spray paint. The guns, it was hinted, would not be exposed to all eyes. The weapons are not seen, they smilingly say, but are heard at night, and quite loudly too.

Beit Furiq also marks the memory of the three dead, who will be forever remembered as the infamous village Informers, serving Shabak. The first was taken from his home in the night by masked people, interrogated at length, and tortured, until he confessed to involvement in the murder of two PLO activists, surveillance of wanted people and passing information to the army. The masked youths forced him to climb to the top of the mosque and to beg forgiveness for his sins over loudspeakers so as to hear in every home. He was the led to the village center, where he was beaten with axes and stabbed with knives, until he expired. The second was murdered in Nablus by a masked person from the PFLP, and only a leaflet issued the following day clarified the motives. The third had been a member of a hot team in a terrorist organization, served 15 years in prison, and after his release changed sides and started working with the army. He was also taken to the Beit Furiq mosque, and the villagers were asked to sentence him. The masked youths released him, but on his way home he was stoned to death by the enraged villagers. That happened in March 1990, and, since then no more people were taken to the mosque in the night in order to descend to their deaths. But the Intifada in Beit Furiq has not ended. it is but proceeding at a slower pace.

Corruption as a method of controlling a population

When there is a list of thousands of families who wait for the "humanitarian" mercy of unification of families. and a governor decides, in a superhuman gesture, to put somebody on the top of the waiting list, it is part of the management in the military administration, not a normal public administration. Also granting special documents to dignitaries and to others who are close to the authorities, allowing their holders to pass the roadblocks without a check and to go in the street during curfew, is something that smells bad among the public. In the atmosphere reigning in Gaza, some pay for it with their life.
Davar, 9 December 1992.

By: Michal Sela.  (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)

All are in the same sewage dump. (Excerpt)

In Gaza you do not know where to start the story. From the sea water that rises inside the wells or from the sewage that flows in lakes in the main street of the city, from the beach with its fine sand, or from the poverty hiding behind the house walls, from the success of the chief of the civil administration who convinced the electricity corporation to supply electricity to the majority of the 840,000 inhabitants, in spite of huge debts, or from the point that for the purpose of getting electricity, the Palestinians are a collective, no individuals, and if the current is cut off, it is cut off for everybody, also for those who paid their bills. Or perhaps we should start with the suspicion, the fear and the charges of hatred electrifying the air in invisible waves, between little children and soldiers in patrol cars when both sides think how to get home safe.

Gaza has roused the public interest in the last weeks because of many suspected acts of corruption among civil administration officials in the military government. Those who are less excited, since already used to it, are the Gaza’ites. A high customs official in Gaza, Israel Bukovza, was recently arrested on suspicions of having received benefits. Against another customs employee, Naor Bukovza (no family relationship) court proceedings are going on for a long time. Sami Doron, a frustrated customs employee, complains against people with whom he was working, and the civil administration promises that no complaint will be swept under the carpet.

The commander of the Center for Issue of magnetic cards, a major, was investigated on a charge of getting benefits from his job. After his release from arrest, he was transferred to a job where he is not in touch with the public, till the end of the investigation. Palestinians claim that for a not to high a bribe he used to issue a magnetic card that allows the holder to enter Israel, even to those who are forbidden to do so. The military government confirms that many investigations of suspects in such cases are taking place, but they deny vehemently the possibility of access to the computer software to produce a forged magnetic card.

The Palestinians on their part describe the situation as a system. They complain about "improper" behavior of employees of the administration. The system works usually through Palestinian "mediators" who for some reason got "close" to executives in the military administration and its special branch [Shabak]. These individuals, in return for a promise that they will "settle" the matter, collect money form the inhabitants. When the Village Associations were active in the West Bank, their activists engaged in paid mediation, with the knowledge and approval of the military administration. It is not known how much of the money reaches also the Israeli officials. The Israeli sources assume that most of it remains in the hands of the mediator. There are several Palestinian lawyers, as well as some owners of the local gas stations in the Gaza Strip, who are known as being reliable mediators. Yusef Bahlul, for instance, one of the newly rich men Gaza, who owns also several gas stations, arranged for the daughter of Muhna Shaban a certificate on behalf of the health officer for treatment in the Tel Hashomer Hospital, after her problem could not be treated in the local hospital. When the Israeli authorities are asked why has Bahlul such contacts their answer is: Because he contributes from time to time from his private money for health requirements in the area.

The Gazan lawyers say: The system is rotten on purpose, so that the method of the stick and the carrot, where bribe money plays a big role, could function better. One man – Advocate Farayah Abu Madayn tells – went recently to renew the famous magnetic card, which must be renewed every six months. Come back in December 1999, he was cynically told by the officer at the magnetic cards station. The amazed lawyer returned a day later and asked: Isn’t this a mistake? No, come back on 31st of December 1999. This is a proof of your contempt, humiliation and arbitrary behavior, says Abu Madayn. A long queue is lining up at the office for exit permits to travel abroad. The Jewish clerk caIIed "Miriam" is openly impudent, says Abu Madayn. The impatient applicants must go to a mediator, pay him and get the needed documents delivered directly to their home.

The Gaza’ites are already used to it and dare not to complain on their own initiative, also because they are afraid that they will be punished. People believe that it is an inevitable result of the permanent regime of occupation. This happens when people serve 20 years and more in a system where almost everything is permitted, a system based on a selection of the public into "good ones" and "bad ones" by a secret police, into those who deserve the merits of the authorities and those who do not. It all starts from the pressures of Shabak who grants benefits to collaborators and closes doors to those who refuse their collaboration. It continues with all kinds of governors, who admit mukhtars and other notables to their limited group of insiders. Here the money is not the main thing, but other forms of support. When there is a list of thousands of families who wait for the "humanitarian" mercy of unification of families. and a governor decides, in a superhuman gesture, to put somebody on the top of the waiting list, it is part of the management in the military administration, not a normal public administration. Also granting special documents to dignitaries and to others who are close to the authorities, allowing their holders to pass the roadblocks without a check and to go in the street during curfew, is something that smells bad among the public. In the atmosphere reigning in Gaza, some pay for it with their life. Yussef Kaskin was murdered three months ago as a suspected collaborator. He belonged to the mediators group. In Gaza they say that Kaskin engaged in the approval of building schemes and only those who worked with him got could get a permit to build a house. A month ago Ibrahim Abu Jiba was also murdered. He owned two fuel stations and sold land to the Jewish settlers. He was suspected of getting money from the Israeli officials in charge of the property of people who were declared “absentees". Ahmed AI-Vakil, a former employee of the Gazan car license office, was also killed – so the Gaza’ites claim – because he was suspected of using his status for getting personal benefits by taking greater bribes than usual.

This general corruption is a result of the moral deterioration of authority, of the feeling of power of the Israeli administration – say some lawyers in Gaza who see both sides of the coin when they do their job. This is not a result of five years of Intifada, but of 25 years old rule in which all the organs of the Israeli administration have become totally corrupt and inefficient.

Israel cuts off electricity to 50,000 Palestinians in Gaza Strip

The Military Administration in the Gaza Strip area has cut off on the 15th of November the electricity supply to some 50,000 Palestinian inhabitants in the northern Gaza Strip, between Bait Lahya and Jebalya, because of unpaid debts. As a result, the inhabitants have also no water in their houses…The Civil Rights Association says that the Military Administration is imposing an unlawful collective punishment.

 

Davar, 4 December 1992.

By: Michal Sela.  (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)

Military Administration cuts off 50,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip from electricity supply because of unpaid debts

The Military Administration in the Gaza Strip area has cut off on the 15th of November the electricity supply to some 50,000 Palestinian inhabitants in the northern Gaza Strip, between Bait Lahya and Jebalya, because of unpaid debts. As a result, the inhabitants have also no water in their houses. More seriously, the military authorities refuse to connect to the electricity grid to those residents who have settled their debts to the electricity corporation, claiming that the current will not be restored till all inhabitants in the whole area have paid their debts. The Civil Rights Association says that the Military Administration is imposing an unlawful collective punishment.

After the current was cut off, four of the inhabitants of the area, in the name of 120 families, have taken steps to settle their individual debts. Four persons who live in the Mashrua Amar neighborhood, have paid their own debt and the debts of 120 families in their housing area on the 18th of November. In a declaration submitted by the four to Advocate Tamar Peleg of the Civil Rights Association, the four declared that in spite of the debt settlement, the municipality has not renewed the electricity supply on the orders of the authorities. The four then met on 23rd of November with an officer of the Civil Administration, Abu AI Amir, who promised to speak with the deputy chief of the local administration, Abu Sharif. Abut Sharif told the plaintiffs on the 24th of November, that "if we wish that the current is reconnected to our houses, we have to go to all inhabitants of Mashrua Amar and collect from them their debts". "We told him that we represent only our block, whose residents have paid what is due from them", said the four. Till today there is no electricity in the houses of the citizens who paid their bills.

Advocate Peleg says in a letter of 2nd December to the legal advisor of the Gaza Strip area, that if the supply of water and electricity services to somebody who paid his bills is made conditional on the behavior of somebody else, this is an unlawful collective punishment. She asks him to take steps to repair the injustice.

The Civil Administration in Gaza says that the issue is not within its competence, but is handled by the Electricity Corporation.

Ten minutes after the curfew was lifted

Haaretz, 22 December 1992.

By: Amira Hass  (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)

Ten minutes after the curfew was lifted

The following are the circumstances of the killing of Rana Abu Tuyur (an 11 years old girl) and Rizik Salah AI Farrah (19) of Khan Yunis on Saturday 19.12., as described by neighbors and eye witnesses in their neighborhood and in declarations delivered to lawyers of the "Gaza Center of Law and Justice": At about 15.15 pm. a vehicle of Civil Administration was driving through the town, accompanied by other military vehicles, and announced the lifting of curfew till 16:00 p.m. It was not clear if only women are allowed to go out. That is why M.S., a neighbor of the Tuyur family, asked Rana to buy for him fresh milk. In the main street near his house, lived Abd Al Shafi Farha, who has a citrus grove and cows and he sells fresh milk. M.S. gave Rana a bottle and she went to the main street in the AI Katba quarter.

Despite the lifting of the curfew, soldiers and many military vehicles remained in the quarter where many left their houses after five days of curfew. Another neighbor, M.R., heard at about 15.35 p.m. many shots and went out to see what happens. Many others like him left their houses when they heard the shooting. M.R. saw in a distance of 500 meters from his house four military vehicles opposite the girls school. Youngsters were throwing stones in their direction. The soldiers fired back. M.S. too, went to see what happens. He saw Rana marching to the house of the milk seller, some 150 meters from the place where the soldiers were. He saw her arriving at the gate of the house and there she fell on the ground.

M.S. and other neighbors tried to reach her, but the heavy shooting deterred them. Only after some 15 minutes of shooting they succeeded to get to her and brought her to a hospital where the doctor diagnosed her death from a bullet in the back. The bullet came out though her stomach. Rizik AI Farrah, (who carried goods in a carriage pulled by a donkey) was among the neighbors who hurried to help Rana. He lifted her from the ground and passed her on to a young man, who transported her in a car to the hospital. Later Rizik returned to his house and climbed to the veranda of the second floor, to look out what was going on. Civil administration announced that curfew starts again at 15.40 already, but the shooting and stone throwing continued till after 16.15 p.m. According to what Rizik saw from the veranda of his house, there were no more youngsters in the street. Suddenly he saw an officer who stood near the house of Abd AI Aziz AI Farrah turning his rifle to the west. A.F. raised his head and saw Rizik on the veranda. He says he saw the officer shooting one bullet and then he saw Rizik falling down. The bullet hit his head. Young men brought the bleeding wounded man to the hospital, but on the way they were stopped by soldiers for about 10 minutes and Rizik died in the car.

In Khan Yunis people do not understand why soldiers stayed in the streets of the town during the short time granted to the inhabitants to go out. The presence of soldiers invites always stone throwing, it is always a provocation – they say there – especially in such tough hours. Has no commander thought of the anger against the deportations and the population choking during the long days of curfew, that might cause an outburst? If there were no soldiers in the neighborhood, no stones would have been thrown. And some more questions are asked in Khan Yunis: Why the soldiers returned fire immediately with real bullets? Nobody felt tear gas, which precedes usually the attempt to prevent "breaches of order". "No rubber bullets were used either – another phase that is said to be less fatal", says A.H. The kind of injuries – In the stomach area and up – shows intentional direct sniping, many people argue. The large number of wounded, in the ten minutes after the curfew was lifted, shows also, that the army has leaped this time over many stages. When these lines are written, it is reported that also Aiman Subhi Omar, a 14 years old boy, died from his wounds. He was hit in the head.

Military sources replied: "The stages of reaction by the Israeli army in cases of breaches of order are up to the Judgment of. the commanders in the field at that time, and must conform the firing orders. Immediately after the curfew was lifted, a large number of individuals of various ages went into the street in an organized and initiated manner and carried out violations of order in the area, including the throwing of blocks and stones. Among the offenders were also seen a number of armed men. All cases of shooting were a result of a sure feeling of danger to the life. of the Israeli military forces that were on the spot. The car was stopped for the purpose of checking and identification, when it is ascertained that there is a wounded in the vehicle, it is allowed to pass".

Entire Israeli generation killing while laughing

And yet another soldier appeared on the screen, anonymous and with his face hidden. "The Border policemen and Givati soldiers brought whole loads of children to the base. I was sure they were unloading bags of potatoes. I asked a Givati soldier what had happened and then he said, oh, my dear, we just change their shape from what they got from their mother."
 
Collection: The Situation in the Territories, December 1992

Foreword: This collection describes subjects which, for lack of space, could not be dealt with in the previous collection "The situation in the fifth year of the Intifada", such as the prevalent collective punishments and their effects on the Palestinians, descriptions of their feelings and attitudes as prevalent in particular villages and towns or others parts of population, the effect of the expulsion, etc.

All emphases mine. Israel Shahak

Hadashot, 7 December 1992.

By: Ranny Talmor (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)

Let’s ask ourselves what he is afraid of

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO AN ENTIRE ISRAELI GENERATION WHICH BECOMES CORRUPTED BY KILLING WHILE LAUGHING? BY KILLING AND ENJOING IT? BY KILLING AND NUMBERING THE KILLED ON THE BUTT OF THE GUN?

In the TV Newsreel program on last Friday, Yehuda Kava interviewed four "Israeli soldiers who served in the Territories during the Intifada. It was very hard to sit in front of the TV screen. “I am trying to carry out the mission and also to remain somehow a human being", said one of the interviewed, but it is a kind of Mission Impossible. After a three days hunt, Ranny Davidi succeeded to catch a person who seemed to him as the leader of the local rioters: "We simply took him to an isolated place, and he got what I got during the three days when I could not catch them. If these were beatings or all kinds of… I cannot call it torture, but we wanted to make him feel the maximum amount of pain… Only after we calmed ourselves by beating him thoroughly, we reported to the company about it. He was, of course, almost fainting by then, so I just threw him off the jeep like a bag of potatoes".

Negev Ahi-Miriam sent a force of armed reservists "to serve as a bait for stone throwers". Two 14 years old children too young to distinguish between a bait and worms, did what they were expected to do. "Then I opened fire at them. When I returned to the company, the rumor spread and all the other soldiers immediately congratulated me and at last I joined the club and became a killer like the other and was told: ‘welcome, make a mark on the gun butt’. It was a huge success. I fulfilled the mission…"

Ran IIan, a guitar player in a rock band: "People throw stones, then, when you are hunting somebody, a whole company with an immense motivation will join you. The hunted man resists, curses, spits, but then he is silenced with a few blows of the fist… You would like, really, to beat him up to the end, till he is totally dead, because you have been running ten hours to catch somebody… You have very strong feeling that you are on a national mission when beating him. You are protecting the State of Israel, the entire Zionist enterprise. Holding the Gaza Strip". Ran Ilan. a stupid, unhappy and brainwashed child, adds: "Listen carefully: But then I thought: if chasing Palestinian children in the alleys of Gaza, to silence them with a few blows of a fist really means protecting the Zionist enterprise, then the Zionist enterprise should go to hell".

Three war criminals appeared in the newsreel. Yes, three war criminals who identified themselves with their full name, stood unafraid in front of the camera, and described their crimes. Only one of them expressed some doubts, maybe even repented. If there were any hope that the day of judgment will come, that these three, and thousands of their comrades and commanders and generals and chiefs of staff and defense ministers and prime ministers of the occupation will be brought to court, the repentance would surely help him. But what shall be done with an entire generation who has been corrupted fundamentally, and who has already passed the abominable stage of "shooting and crying" since now they shoot and laugh, kill and enjoy it, kill and mark the number of killed on their gun butt?

And yet another soldier appeared on the screen, anonymous and with his face hidden. "The Border policemen and Givati soldiers brought whole loads of children to the base. I was sure they were unloading bags of potatoes. I asked a Givati soldier what had happened and then he said, oh, my dear, we just change their shape from what they got from their mother. The children were trembling with pain, fear and cold and were begging for mercy … At night I am hearing the prisoners screaming when they are being tortured in the cells, I hear the beatings going on, and I recall these sights of the chap with the bine of his shoulder outside his body and a mark of blue color around the heart. Terrible, terrible…

One decent man who till today does not sleep at night. But in a society that turns the sons of another people into potato bags and its own sons into military boots, he must appear under the condition of not revealing his name and his face. Let’s ask ourselves what he is afraid of, and then let’s be shocked only a little by the German TV reports about skinheads.

Advocate Jabareen is Relocating

Ha’aretz

April 26, 1995 By Gabi Zohar (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)

Advocate Jabareen is Relocating


In August Hilana and Tawfiq Jabareen will pack up their furniture and belongings in their apartment in central Umm al-Fahm, take their daughter Shedan, aged 20 months, and relocate. After a struggle that lasted one year, since April of last year, the couple will be the first Arab family to live in a Jewish settlement in the ‘Ara valley – in Katzir. And as though there were not enough symbols in that area, perhaps they will also be a role model for dozens of young Arab couples in the area, who face severe housing problems.

Everything started one year ago. At the time Tawfiq Jabareen heard an advertisement on the Voice of Israel radio station inviting the public to purchase homes in Katzir, which is supposed to be part of the planned city Tal-‘ron. Everyone in Umm al-Fahm knows about Katzir, located 10 minutes’ drive away – one of the Seven Stars settlements in the plan of former Housing Minister, Ariel Sharon; 55 minutes from Tel-Aviv; a loan of $11,000 which becomes a grant; a three-room house, a garden, parking for two cars and the option to immediately add on two rooms. But the Jabareens decided to get to know the settlement from close range. In that manner they hoped to leave behind the intolerable overcrowding of Umm al-Fahm and the living conditions which are far from satisfying for a young couple – while still remaining near their parents. The chances of a young couple owning their own apartment in Umm at-Fahm are almost nil. Due to the shortage of land, the price of land in the city is extremely expensive _ about $40,000 per dunum, not including development and connection to infrastructure, compared to $18,000 in Katzir, a price that includes development and connection to infrastructure. In the absence of an approved urban planning program for the city, young couples also have no chance of obtaining building permits. Therefore they are forced to build extensions to their parents’ homes, which is also usually illegal.

Therefore last year the Jabareens appeared before the acceptance committee of Katzir. He is a successful lawyer, she is a social worker, a graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who heads a project for girls in distress in Umm al-Fahm. They are both just

Attorney Jabareen Wants to Live in a Jewish Settlement

"So, what is your name?" Ms. Nachmani asked the two interviewees. "I replied", Jabareen said, "and then she blushed, opened two wide eyes and said: ‘just a minute, the nationality, what is the nationality?’ So I said: ‘Arab’. The poor woman nearly fainted in her chair", he smiles. "When she regained her composure she told me: ‘I am sorry we cannot accept you’. I asked why and she replied: ‘Because you are not a Jew’. Hilana and I tried to argue, we said that as Israeli citizens it was our right to live in Katzir, but they explained to us that according to the Jewish Agency regulations they did not accept Non-Jews in their settlements. I asked how the Jewish Agency could decide upon the matter, since the place was built on state land and Housing Ministry built the houses. I said that I was an Israeli citizen and had a right to that land. Then Miryam Nachmani said: ‘Don’t argue with me’…

"The Arab construction workers who built our houses want to live here. They are impressed by the view and the tranquility. I get along fine with them so long as they know their place. Actually they are nicer then the usual Arabs. I have nothing against Arabs",.
 

Attorney Jabareen Wants to Live in a Jewish Settlement

 
Ha’ir, Tel Aviv Magazine, June 17, 1994

By Michal Niv (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)

There is a commotion in the offices of the Tel-Yiron local council. The telephone never stops ringing, the fax spews reams of paper and Tsippi Miller, the secretary of the community association from the settlement of Katzir walks around restlessly, murmuring, "I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about". She turns to the journalists: "Tell me, aren’t you making too big of an issue out of it?" and even: "Are you crazy to be interested in this matter?" Miller is a large woman with a small, whining voice. She addresses her statements to the reporters who jam the fax and telephone and who have overrun Katzir settlement for the past few days. This morning they called again from the radio and yet again from Ma’ariv, a TV talk show invited them for tomorrow and Tsippi Miller, who really thinks that "the entire affair with that uppity Arab" has already been inflated beyond proportions still cannot suppress a slight shiver of excitement when the voice comes through the phone. "Motti," she tells the council secretary with shining eyes, "it is Gabby Gazit from the TV. "

The other residents of Katzir who until last week had lived comfortably with the knowledge that the name of their settlement meant nothing to most Israelis are adapting to the new situation. On Monday a young woman with short hair and large rubber earrings noticed the representatives of the media at the entrance to the council building. She slowed her red car smiled sweetly at the visitors and commenced singing a sweet little song: "We don’t want Arabs, we don’t want Arabs", for which she had composed a tune. More than summing up the outlook of that resident the song was an expression of sympathy with the visitors bearing notebooks and cameras. Something like a welcome. Since what the reporters seek are blood, passions and headlines, so here’s a headline,

The community settlement Katzir has stood for 12 years on the top of Mt. Amir overlooking the Wadi Ara valley. Most of the residents joined in the course of the first three years, among them former kibbutz members, academics and middle-class families who did not have much money but still retained the dream of a private home with a garden. The tranquility, the small white houses, the red tiled roofs and the grass lawns recall the atmosphere of a sleepy kibbutz; or as defined by a resident watering the dahlias in his cared-for garden: "the quiet and beauty of a kibbutz, but without the assembly telling you what to do and without anyone messing in your affairs". Perfect. Small surprise, therefore, that that was exactly the place where the citizen Tawfik Jabareen wanted to build his home.

Tawfik Jabareen, aged 26, born in Umm al-Fahm, meets all of the criteria which earn a person the title of a yuppie. He is ambitious, successful, young, handsome, well to do and he seeks quality living. His suits are well-tailored, his car is blue and shiny, and only the question of his having an espresso machine remained unsolved. Jabareen completed his B.A. at the Law School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He received his M.A. in international law on the subject of human rights, in Washington. Nine months ago he returned to this country and joined the Haifa offices of ‘Union of 40′ which handles the affairs of 40 Arab villages which the state does not recognize and bides its time deliberating the residents’ eligibility for becoming connected with the electricity and water systems and other basic services. Within few months, Jabareen and his wife Hilana, a social worker aged 23, graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, discovered that their rented apartment in Umm al-Fahm was too small and decided (to the regret of their families) to leave the city. "Living in Umm al-Fahm is not suitable for me" explained Tawfik. "It is a place without developed infrastructure, community centers and entertainment centers. It is a neglected city where 90% of the residents rise at 5:00 a.m. every morning to work in construction or in restaurants in the Tel-Aviv area. There is nothing in Umm al-Fahm. Just a lot of noise. "

In April this year Tawfik Jabareen overheard a commercial on the radio which invited Israeli citizens to purchase apartments in the expanding settlement Katzrin. The advertisements in the newspapers also attracted his attention and he was especially hooked by the slogan: "On Passover it would be great to visit Katzir and get a 10% discount". The price of a 60 sq. meter apartment in Katzir is 134,847 shekel, and for people like the Jabareens who wanted to purchase two units and turn them into one spacious apartment the Housing Ministry promised a special price, of only 254,915 shekel. Jabareen was encouraged by Micha Blum, a representative of Housing and Development Agency. "Your personal qualifications are excellent", Blum complimented him, adding that in his opinion there were good chances of Jabareen’s application to purchase a home in Katzir being affirmed. Jabareen gave his wife Hilana the good news and together they waited excitedly for the day when, along with their 11-month old daughter, they would appear before the acceptance committee.

On April 28 the awaited meeting took place, with the participation of Micha Blum, Miryam Nachmani (a representative of Jewish Agency), Motti Bloch (the secretary of the Tel-Yiron local council), a representative of the Housing Ministry and the secretary of the committee. "So, what is your name?" Ms. Nachmani asked the two interviewees. "I replied", Jabareen said, "and then she blushed, opened two wide eyes and said: ‘just a minute, the nationality, what is the nationality?’ So I said: ‘Arab’. The poor woman nearly fainted in her chair", he smiles. "When she regained her composure she told me: ‘I am sorry we cannot accept you’. I asked why and she replied: ‘Because you are not a Jew’. Hilana and I tried to argue, we said that as Israeli citizens it was our right to live in Katzir, but they explained to us that according to the Jewish Agency regulations they did not accept Non-Jews in their settlements. I asked how the Jewish Agency could decide upon the matter, since the place was built on state land and Housing Ministry built the houses. I said that I was an Israeli citizen and had a right to that land. Then Miryam Nachmani said: ‘Don’t argue with me’. The secretary of the local council started shouting at me: ‘This is national land, for years no one wanted to live here until we came. We invested money and established Katzir.’ I replied that I was also prepared to invest my money and then they said ‘No way.”?

The Jabareens left the meeting disappointed. “I am an active person in the field of civil rights," said Jabareen, "I cannot remain silent in the face of such injustice. I am not provocative and I am not just obstinate. I really want to raise my daughter in Katzir, but if there are people who think that it is an act of protest – so much the better. I have to explode this issue. I intend to see it through and I will petition the Supreme Court of Justice about it if needed". From a thick file of documents which he has prepared on the way to the Court, he removes a document of land registration according to which the lands on which Katzir stands belong to State of Israel. "According to law, I am equal to other citizens", said Jabareen. "My personal qualifications are excellent. So what is wrong? Why am I being discriminated against? When we came out of the interview I was stunned, it was hard to believe that such things can happen in the State of Israel.

– Excuse me, but that does not sound sincere.

"Okay, laughed Jabareen, "perhaps I faced some cases of discrimination on the grounds of nationality before. But if we leave cynicism aside for a minute, then when I go to sleep at night I still sometimes ask myself why people should have a different status just because they belong to a different nationality. It is strange. Only citizenship should determine my status. The moment they do not accept me it is a hidden statement that am not a citizen. So let them tell me that to my face, and that’s it. 93% of land in this country belongs to the state, meaning that the Arab citizens, 18% of the population, cannot use 93% of the state’s most important natural resource. Perhaps the time has come for the Supreme Court of Justice to finally solve this problem.

– Why should you forcefully try to enter a place where you were told to your face that you were not wanted?

"I have no choice. The Arab localities been turned into ghettoes. We only have freedom within our ghettos. No, I do not want to live with racists who turned me down, but I believe that residents of Katzir, at least some of them, do not think that way. Besides, the only thing that they wanted in the committee was for me to be insulted and to go away. So I won’t do that. If I get a permit, I’ll rush to live in Katzir, and I hope that more Arabs will do the same. But even if live there as the only Arab, that is fine as far as I am concerned. Perhaps there will be some difficulties but I am prepared for that. I support social change and I will be glad to make sacrifices for that purpose. A reporter from "Davar" who investigated the issue told me that one of the reasons why they were not prepared to accept Arabs in Katzir was that they feared that it would lower the value of their homes. I am sure that if I will live in Katzir the price of the apartments will go up. "

In the course of his time in the U.S., Tawfik Jabareen worked at the NAACP Legal Defence Fund, an organization working for Black rights. There he often faced the argument that when Blacks moved into a neighborhood the property values plummeted. No such thing will happen in Katzir, Jabareen promised. "If the Arabs who come to Katzir meet the criteria of the local population committee as far as concerns education, occupation, etc., they will do only good to the settlement. Incidentally, I am not the only one who tried. A resident of Lydda, Abu-Hamed Ziyyad, a lecturer in education at Beit Berl College had participated in an orientation meeting held in Katzir. He did not look like an Arab. His Hebrew was excellent, so everyone was nice to him. Only one hour later, when his mother got out of the car and urged him to hurry: ‘Yallah, let’s go home, it’s late’, they grasped his nationality and the smiles ceased. ‘The place is not for you,’ they told him, ‘we won’t allow mosques to be built here. ‘"

Not only in the Katzir acceptance committee were eyebrows raised at Jabareen. His and his wife’s families were surprised too. "My father, a traditional man, disliked the idea very much. ‘Why should you leave your family and live among them", he said. "They have different customs, a different lifestyle’. But, says Jabareen, “don’t let him dictate to me. My seven brothers live in Umm al-Fahm. Some of them support me and some don’t understand why I want to live in a Jewish settlement."

Hilana Jabareen, a smiling nice young woman in fashionable summer dress, is no less eager than her husband to leave the city where she was born. "I want the best for my daughter. I have no problem adjusting to life in Katzir and Umm al-Fahm is only 10 minutes drive from there, so I’ll still be close to my parents and send my daughter to an Arab kindergarten".

– Aren’t you afraid that the child will suffer from isolation while she is in Katzir?

"I have the feeling that we will get on fine with the neighbors and I would also like to work there instead of at the Umm al-Fahm municipality, if I get an offer. But still, I was so insulted at the interview that I wanted to scream. After I thought it over I want to live there more than ever, it has become a challenge for me. –

Motti Bloch, the secretary of the Tel-Yiron local council and a fervent supporter of Ariel Sharon, is a solid man with silver hair. He sighs at the sight of the media, then he resigns himself, offers coffee, produces a small tape recorder from a desk drawer. He is not warning, heaven forbid, he is only clarifying that the conversation is recorded, since he knows the media and knows how it prints what it wants. Later he divides the map by color. "The official reaction is that there is no pink. Only black and white. Katzir is a Jewish community settlement built in the framework of establishing lookouts in the Galilee", Bloch explained patiently, hurrying to stress: Jewish settlements in the Galilee. The plan is subordinate to identical regulations in the rest of community settlements in Israel. Our aim is to build a settlement where there is quality living, social integration, a healthy community and all the good things. After the massive Jewish immigration from Russia the association and the Jewish Agency were asked to expand the settlement for them. Their request was granted. The association’s sole condition was to retain its character. The settlement is growing and today there is already talk about 1,200 families. The state built 400 housing units on land which are owned legally by the association and Jewish Agency. We did not even examine Jabareen’s suitability and his chances of adjusting, since on the face of it the Jewish Agency regulations do not permit settling him on that land since he is not Jewish…

– Is there an article that explicitly states that an Arab citizen cannot purchase an apartment in a settlement like Katzir?

"What, haven’t you read Herzl? Have we forgotten the Jewish National Fund? Any organization that received secondary rights from the state to build on a certain area and which also paid for that right is entitled to determine its regulations, especially since this is absolutely legal, and to determine who may be a member. I asked Jabareen: ‘Let us suppose that you and your mayor had received land to settle only the members of Arabic Language Society and you would reject me since I do not promote Arabic language and therefore was unsuitable’. The government gave money to Jewish religious associations. And would a secular person fit in there? Jabareen’s claims of discrimination are ridiculous and I think that he is sufficiently educated to understand it. His aims are provocative. There are enough mixed neighborhoods in Upper Nazareth and other places. There are no regulations there."

– And if the Jewish Agency regulations had permitted it, would you have accepted the Jabareen family?

"We have also rejected Jews," said Bloch and Tsippi Miller tried to support him, adding that Katzir never accepted divorced people, widows with children and singles. But he impatiently silenced her. "No, there is no national problem here, we have friendly relations with the Arabs in the villages near Katzir, since the valley below us belongs to the Arabs. But he wants to live here just to spite us. Several Arabs from Lydda also came to the briefing and the minute that they understood that it was a Jewish community association they said ‘excuse me’ and went home. They understood that their children would be miserable here. I am not opposed to integration, in fact, I support it. Even the integration with the Jewish new immigrants is still not complete. That is something that takes years. We are trying to reach them through their children, the adults are more difficult. For example the singer Gabby Berlin whom you like to see does not interest them. So do we have to add a nationality problems to all of that?" he asked. "No one can tell people who lived in Katzir for 12 years that every citizen of Israel can live anywhere in the country. If such a regulation will be passed in Israel, it will be the end of the kibbutzim in the Land of Israel. Their regulations, which prohibit them to have Non-Jewish members, will be then dead.”

– Are you hiding behind the regulations?

"The difference between a person who goes to live in a city and purchases an apartment from a contractor and a person who goes to live in a community settlement, moreover in an area which the state favors, is that the latter has the right to decide who will be his neighbor and with whom his children will go to school.”

– But the Jabareen case never came before the Katzir acceptance committee. From where do you take the certainty that they would have rejected him?

"It is obvious to me that Jabareen would have been considered to be a controversial figure. It would have torn apart the community of hundreds of people and I don’t dare guess how it would have ended…”

At that stage Tsippi Miller once again volunteered her views: "It is not over with one family," she explained. "If he had been accepted, and he is a lawyer and a nice man, why should I not accept his neighbor who is a bricklayer? We came here to Judaize the area. Once the Arabs threw stones here but today that is over. But why do I need the Arabs inside my bones? After him all of his Arab friends will follow."

According to Motti Bloch, only members of the Jewish Agency Executive and members of the Settling Committee are allowed to study the Jewish Agency regulations. As compensation, he agreed to read an article out of writ of obligation signed by everyone accepted by Katzir, according to which all of the residents must take part in the settlement’s security roster. "And now", he said victoriously, "analyze it yourselves. Jabareen wilt never be a guard since I will never give him a weapon. Remember, some years ago bombs were placed here.”

– And do you suspect that Jabareen would permit anyone to lay a bomb in the place where his wife and children are sleeping?

"I do not want to go into the security problem. For five years it has been quiet. Arabs buy apartments in Beit Eliezer, it is cheaper there. Let them buy there. What you are hearing from me are the feelings of the Jewish residents of the settlements, who ceaselessly call my office. " Yotam, aged seven and a half, supports the council secretary. "I don’t want Arabs to come here". – Why? "I don’t know". – Have you ever met Arab children? "No". – So how do you know that you won’t want to play with them? "Because it isn’t fun". "It does not bother me personally", said Inbar Weitzman, who has lived in Katzir for two years, "but from knowing the population here I am certain that the majority are totally against any Arab family living here". Indeed, her neighbor, Mali Gozlan, five years in Katzir, does oppose it and she even has inside information about the Jabareen case. His moves, she said, are carefully planned and his only intention is to overrun the place with his village brothers and make the lives of the Jewish residents unbearable, until they are forced to leave the place. "Besides, why doesn’t he invite me to live in Umm al-Fahm?" she asks, insulted. "With the Arabs it always starts with one", agreed Mali Galimidi, "and then the others come. The Arab construction workers who built our houses want to live here. They are impressed by the view and the tranquility. I get along fine with them so long as they know their place. Actually they are nicer then the usual Arabs. I have nothing against Arabs", she explained logically, "but I am against the principle of Arabs living in a Jewish place. I do not want them coming here to live". But 15 year-old Oren disagreed. ”That is pure racism," he said. "I have no problem with Arab neighbors. You cannot prevent Arabs from purchasing homes here. It is their right as citizens." His father, Gyora Zohar, born in Kibbutz Barkay and now a resident of Katzir, says: "Motti Bloch came here just because he wanted to sit on top of the Arabs in the valley. But he does not represent me and he is not the spokesman of the residents. If the Arab candidates are prepared to follow the rules of the place then let them come and live here and be welcome. And in fact I would give them weapons. Let them stand guard like everyone else.”

In the evening, the Jabareens accepted the invitation of Gyora and Yifat Zohar and came to their home for a short courtesy visit. Gyora argued that although he welcomed the steps that Jabareen was taking, they are somewhat premature. It is not yet the time for change, he thinks. Yifat also believes that the timing is problematic: "It is impossible to ignore the changes which the Intifada caused here," she said. "Seven years ago it was easier. Today, with the Arabs here identifying with their brothers on the other side, Katzir is in a hostile environment." "But even seven years ago they would not have accepted us," Hilana remarked with a quiet smile, and Yifat was forced to agree.

Jabareen, who considers the whole issue of timing to be one more excuse aimed at clarifying why he should give up the plan to settle in Katzir, looks angry but tries to retain his good manners. When Yifat remarked that, "besides, you Arabs all tend to build illegally and do not accept that", he erupted: "You too want Arabs to live in ghettoes". She then defended herself, saying no, she only wanted to Judaize the area a bit but not completely, and she wanted never to be told "You are stuck here like a thorn in my side" as an Arab from Barta’a once told her. Gyora tried to calm things down. More and more frequently he inserted Arabic words in his speech. He said he had many Arab friends, which was nothing compared to the fact that once his wife even worked for an Arab employer, although her mother almost died of fear, and he does everything that a good Jew does when he is making an effort to prove how clean he is of any shred of racism. Jabareen wrinkled his brow in dissatisfaction, but finally he responded to the gesture of reconciliation.

The meeting, the first ever of its kind in Katzir, of twenty minutes of freestyle integration between Jews and Arabs, ended successfully. When they parted, Jabareens and Zohars exchanged telephone numbers and promised to keep in touch. Zohars told Jabareens: "Don’t give up", and the latter promised to petition the Supreme Court of Justice. "And when that happens", said Motti Bloch, "it will no longer be the problem of Katzir. If Jabareen submits a petition and wins, Herzl will have to resign. It is Herzl who has to confront that problem, not just me." Eldad Adar, Jewish Agency spokesman, claimed that the affair is being examined by the legal advisor and that he had no recollection of any precedents of that sort.

Ransacking Palestinian homes

The invaders of five days ago were all masked, say the members of the four families. All of them wore a kind of hat made of stocking which reveals only the eyes. On their hands they had black gloves, some of them with the fingertips cut off, they all wore army uniforms and sport shoes of various colors. They had no search warrants or written orders, and they gave the family members orders in broken Arabic.
Haaretz, 28 July 1991.
By: Amira Hass (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)

Let their parents know

In Beit Hanoun, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, people do not know if those who broke into four homes five nights ago were the same people, going from house to house, or members of one group which split up. Nor do the villagers know if they were the same who have been breaking continuously into six houses every few nights during the past six weeks looking for Ayman She bat, Nasser Shebat, Ayad Kafarna, Naim Kafarna and Rafiq Odeh. But their style is the same, their clothing is the same and in every place they leave, the same picture appears: the contents of cupboards, shelves and linens strewn on the floor, chairs, tables and closets overturned and damaged, costly items deliberately smashed (sewing machines, fans, radiotapes), most of the glass In the windows smashed and many persons who had their ribs broken or who suffer painf from beatings.

The invaders of five days ago were all masked, say the members of the four families. All of them wore a kind of hat made of stocking which reveals only the eyes. On their hands they had black gloves, some of them with the fingertips cut off, they all wore army uniforms and sport shoes of various colors. They had no search warrants or written orders, and they gave the family members orders in broken Arabic. They were between seven and nine, besides an unknown number of people who were watching outside. They stayed in each home for one hour.

They broke into Ayman’s home at about 1:00 am: several of them entered quietly through the roof to the staircase and others climbed over the high gate and jumped into the courtyard. Ayman’s mother awoke when she felt that someone had clamped a hand over her mouth, so that she would not shout. They arrived at Nasser’s home shortly before 2:00 am. They entered the courtyard through the front gate and through a back fence which leads to an area planted with trees. They opened forcefully the locked door and everyone woke up from the noise. They reached the staircase of Kamal’s home through the roof at around 3:15 and stood next to the steel door. "Who is it?" asked the two women who were at home, and received the answer: "Do not you know? Soldiers of the Israeli army". Later they were told, according to them, "We are from a special unit".

Ayad’s parents were sleeping on the balcony when their courtyard suddenly filled with masked people around 3:30. Some of them immediately began beating the father, Othman Qasem and his wife, Aisha. Someone said looking at his watch (in English): "Bring your son within three minutes, and if not, we will turn the house inside out". Every 30 seconds he then announced that 30 seconds had passed. After three minutes they started "turning the house inside out". Then beat one of the other sons. When his mother intervened: "That’s my son. how are you behaving", the invaders, so she says, beat her up as well, and also one of the daughters, aged 17. Othman Kafarna was already summoned twice for interrogation by the person from Shabak who is in charge of the village, who asked him about his son, Ayad, aged 21, formerly a psychology student at Bir Zeit University. He also asked him what the soldiers did during their searches. "Not true", responded the interrogator, when Kafarna told him his version. Nasser Shebat’s brother, Rafiq, was not believed at the military government either, when he came to complain about the conduct of the soldiers who search at night and about the destruction they do. "It cannot be, we especially sent you the nicest officer", he claims that a "Captain Dan" said. The families also complained to the Red Cross and the UNWRA. One day the soldiers prevented a Red Cross team from entering Beit Hanoun. Another time the team managed to get there and examine the complaints. The search carried out afterwards was calm: "They knocked at the door nicely", says Rafiq, "they entered politely, asked us to empty the closets ourselves, and photographed us while doing it".

Recently six soldiers and Border Guards, without masks, come to the house almost every day, during the daytime. They enter, take a look, and go away. During the night searches not all of them are masked. Usually the inhabitants say, a well-known officer called Kobi, accompanies them. Tall, well built, beginning to go bald over his forehead. On Monday, after a night search, people from UNWRA came to take photographs at the home of Kamal Kafarna. Kobi was outside all the time, looked on, and went away. During the search last Tuesday, the relatives of Ayman and Nasser Shebat told me that someone, evidently the commander, stood outside all the time while the invaders were going out to consult him about what to do next.

A family first learns that their son is "wanted", when an Israeli officer comes and asks where is so and so, and when at checkpoints family members are asked about his whereabouts. "The children do not tell us if they are involved and in what, or what they do and where they stay", the parents, brothers and wives told me. Everyone is convinced that the army and Shabak know that the families do not know anything. For no son wants to endanger his family. Therefore, it is obvious to the families that this manner of searching is intended to bring pressure against the sons, so as to make them turn themselves in. "If they do not turn themselves in", they say the soldiers tell them, "they will be killed in the end".

Except for Ayman, aged 22, who has been wanted for two months according to his mother, the others have been wanted for over one year: Nasser, 22, for two years already, Ayad, one year, and Kamal, 35, three and a half years. "Up to now", says Kamal’s wife, Sabah, "they used to come once a month, searched, but superficially, looked around and went away".

The "visits" of the last few weeks are something new for the families, both because of their frequency and of their violence. The search last Tuesday was the worst, they say. "The soldiers are looking for my brother", says Rafiq, "I understand that. Let them come. But they should come like human beings, not like animals. Why they leave after them so much destruction? They always break windows when they can open them, they throw the radio on the floor to smash it when it is obvious that my brother is not inside it". One time the soldiers asked where his brother was. "I looked into my pocket and said: ‘Here, search here’", Rafiq says. As punishment for his impudence and nerve, he says, they confiscated his identity card and it was not restored to him for a week. During the night search last Tuesday, Rafiq says, he saw with his own eyes how his brother Yusef was being beaten, without being able to intervene. The brother has been a heart patient since birth. In his identity card he holds medical documents testifying about his condition. The documents are written in English, Arabic ("for the Druze soldiers") and Hebrew ("for the Jews").

After the masked soldiers broke in, the family members say, three of them caught Yuself’s wife, Suad, and beat her on the stomach and back in front of all the other family members. Four soldiers took Yusef outside. He tried to tell them that he has a heart diseases, but they ignored him. They placed him next to the car in the yard, he says, and beat him for along time with their fists, kicks, and also with a stick that even broke during the beating. After they turned the house inside out and left, the brothers took Yusef to the hospital for examination. He returned in the afternoon, suffering from dizziness and weakness, his entire body aching. In the course of the same round of searches on Tuesday, so the families tell me, others were beaten as well, some more, some less. Ayman’s mother and grandmother were hit with fists (on their arms, while revolver was pointed at their temples). On the previous search as well, the mother was beaten up, had to be taken to clinic where a damage to her heart was diagnosed. In Kamal’s home, the pregnant sister in law, Mazunya, was beaten up, but not too much.

Kamal’s brother, Ziyad, has not been sleeping at home since he was beaten during one of the searches this month: one of the searchers removed the bullets from the magazine of his gun, put them in Ziyad’s pocket. and hit him on his back with the barrel. Afterwards he said that "This time it was not serious". The beating marks are still visible on his back. Nor does Kamal’s 14 year old son sleep at home. The soldiers asked about him as if he, too, was wanted, and at home they fear that when the soldeirs see him, they won’t believe that he is just a 14 year old boy, and will beat him as if he were at least 18. Since the searches began the children are scared and flinch from every stranger. The smaller ones cry and yell during the search, since they see how the adults are beaten or threatened with guns before their eyes. Because of that Ayman’s small brothers sleep at a neighbor’s home, but even there five year old Zeinab wakes up and shouts "The soldiers, the soldiers want to kill Ayman". When Mazunya’s children cried, she says, one of the masked soldiers ordered her to silence them while forbidding her to go to them and hug them. Ghassan, aged nine, son of the wanted Kamal, is afraid of the army, but now he become used to it. Still, when they broke into the house last week, he pretended to be asleep watching the soldiers through the slits of his eyes, scared that they would beat him if he opened them.

But this time the soldiers were mainly busy with the small grocery store near the house and which supports the family: several hours after the soldiers left the floor was still strewn with boxes of biscuits, toilet paper, boxes of crackers, cans, sanitary napkins, smashed eggs and several shirts on their hangers, No one had the strength or the will to rearrange and clean the store. The messes in the other homes have not been cleaned up, either. Why clean up, if they can come again tomorrow, everyone says. The soldiers even told Kamal’s wife and sister in law that there would be no use cleaning up. "In any case we will come and mess everything up again", they say.

Kamal’s wife complains that about NIS 300 were taken from the store during the search. Ayad’s mother says that there were NIS 1.000 in a drawer in her room, and that the money was taken. She complained to UNWRA, she says. Regulations and logic say, according to some experienced people in Gaza, that every search or handling of belongings must be done in the presence of a family member, so that later there will not be any true or false claims of stealing. But during the searching of the store and that room no one from the family was present. And in addition to the stolen money the searches are always accompanied by massive damage to property.

Less accurate information can be obtained regarding the soldeirs’ attitude towards girls and women. "I am ashamed to tell what words they used to my daughters", says Aisha Kafarna. Mazunya also finds it difficult to utter the words she claims were said to her. Finally she was willing to say that they told her something like "If you do not tell where Kamal is, we will publicize in the village that you are a prostitute". And Rafiq says that the same Kobi told one of his sister in laws, whose husband is detained: "You are alone at night in bed, why shouldn’t I be with you. I invite the entire people of Israel", Rafiq told me, "like friends, to come and see what the soldiers do. Let them see everything the televison does not show. Let their parents know".

The response of the Israeli army spokesman: "An army force came indeed to the homes’ of the above mentioned wanted, who are accused of disturbing the public order and membership in illegal popular committees, in order to carry out a search and to try to locate them. In the course of the peaceful search the families began to riot and started themselves to mess the house break their own property. When the search ended, the residents of the home of the wanted began to throw stones at the soldiers. It should be mentioned that there was no physical contact between the army forces and the residents of the homes. Not one penny nor anything else was taken. There was no order for a search warrant and no search warrant is needed. These are routine operational actions. Search warrants are not required".

The IDF spokesman refused to reply to the question how the claim that money was indeed stolen would be examined and why the soldiers entered masked. Nor did his office respond to the claim that the soldiers use rude language to women.

Last Monday, July 22, I went to meet the families of the wanted in Beit Hanoun, accompanied by an acquaintance, a resident of the Gaza Strip. At the checkpoint before the village the soldiers stopped me and did not allow me to enter. This is a hostile village, they told me. The previous day there was a fight between clans in the village and they said that they fear for my safety. They had no written order and called an officer. The latter arrived, took my acquaintance’s identity card, got into a jeep and said "Drive after me". We drove after him until the Erez checkpost. There he returned the identity card and ordered me out of the Strip. He had no order prohibiting the entrance of journalists or Israeli civilians.

"If you want to, speak to the commander of the base at the entrance", he said. A man dressed in civilian clothes, wearing sunglasses, even told me: "This is a closed military area, why are you entering". Two policemen also checked what I was up to and took my identity card for examination. The soldier at the lookout post then spoke with the commander and announced that I had no permit to enter. "But if you want to, speak with the representative of the Israeli army Spokesman". The representative was not in the office. A reserve officer who serves at the Spokesman’s office and who happened to be present. confirmed to me what should have been known to all: "There is no such thing, entrance forbidden". Together we tried to convince the commander of the base. He insisted that I could enter Gaza City, but not Beit Hanoun. "But speak, if you want to, with the Spokesman’s delegate at the Southern Command", he said. We did. "Do you insist on going to Belt Hanoun? they asked at that office, "The area commander does not really agree". After about an hour, apparently following telephone negotiations between them and the commander, they announced that I was indeed permitted to enter. Even to Beit Hanoun. "But on your own responsibility. And the spokesman’s delegate said: There is no order preventing you from entering any place in the Strip, including villages and refugee camps, unless something unusual happens. It is better to notify the Spokesman a day early. In case, Heaven forbid, something is going on", but that is not compulsory. The Gaza Strip, including all its Palestinian residences, is not a permanently closed military area.

Four hours of pain

A routine story of Israeli soldiers dressed as Arabs who kidnap a Palestinian lawyer and beat him.
 
Haaretz, 5 August 1991
By: Amira Hass (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)

Four hours of pain


In the end, they apologized to Maher Khamis Fares, 30, a Palestinian lawyer from Khan Yunis. They even asked him to come to the Shabak offices again, he says. Apparently so that they could apologize again. But he did not go. He does not need their apologies for four hours of pain and terror which he suffered. That day, July 21, actually started out fine. He passed his driving test and went to announce it to his brother. The brother lives in ai-Hindi apartment building. There is a corridor leading to the stairs and from it branch several stores and offices, among them "Abir" communication office. From there people telephone Europe. America, and mainly, their many relatives who work in the Gulf states.

Fares went to his brother for a few minutes only. That was what he told his wife and his mother at home. On his way out of his brother’s home, around 3:00 pm, he reached the middle of the corridor, when he saw someone with a crate in his hands. Because of passing from the dark stairway and the sunny entrance, his eyes were dazzled. This why he first thought mistakenly that the man, who walked towards him, dropped the crate from his hands and suddenly hugged him around the hips, was his friend. When the second man appeared – also looking like a Palestinian – and caught him fron behind, the idea that these were thieves suddenly flashed through his mind. "Who are you?" he asked them in Arabic. Not for a minute he thought that they were Israeli Jews.

The neighbors who watched what was happening in their street concluded at once that these persons had to be people from the special Israeli units, who impersonate Palestinians. Now the truth can be told about their existence without it being denied [by Israeli authorities] and attributed to the inventions of an Oriental imagination. What happened next was that suddenly a Volkswagen minibus with Gaza license plates stopped nearby. About ten men wearing civilian clothes jumped out of it. "They looked like Arabs", so describes them a neighbor, "not like soldiers". But the minute the person who says so saw them, he ran away as fast as he could. In the meantime military vehicles arrived and soldiers poured out of them. They stood at both ends of the street, imposing a curfew on it. No one could enter or leave. One neighbor, who lives in al Hindi, was ordered by one of those dressed in civilian clothing to get into his house immediately. The neighbor climbed the stairs but did not go home. He peeked out through a window. He saw them take Fares into the "Abir" office, and beat him. And how the floor was turning red.

Earlier, in the corridor, the attackers answered Fares’ question about who they were: "Jish" ["soldiers"], they replied in Arabic, and went through his pockets. He stopped resisting, tried to say that he was a lawyer, but it did no good. Today he thinks with horror about the posssibility that he would have struggled with them as one should with a violent attacker. They would have accused him of assaulting a soldier. But the truth is that Maher Fares looks too thin and delicate to attack anyone, even if he is attacked first. The pair handcuffed him with plastic handcuffs and pulled him into the office. On the way he noticed another person lying down with his head on the floor. They made him lie down also, and started hitting his head from behind with a blunt instrument, apparently a gun. Again he tried to tell them that he was a lawyer. Again they did not listen and just continued to beat him. One kicked him on his head in additon, he says. And another put a gun to his eye and said: "Do not utter even one word". A week after the beating he describes it as if he were still in a state of shock. "They seemed like bulls to me, those who beat me. I could not say anything. I felt like being nothing". He raised his head – he continues to recount in an almost choked voice – and felt blood dripping from his face on the floor. Only when reaching the description of his hands tied behind him with the plastic handcuffs, and the pain they caused him, he seems upset. He does not remember the pain of the blows on his head, because his hands hurt so much.

Then the army arrived, recounts Fares. Soldiers in uniform. One of them asked him his name, poured water on his head and bandaged the wound. Bandaged and still hancuffed he was taken to a military jeep, along with four others. One was laid on the floor of the jeep. The rest were ordered to sit with their heads bowed. His eyes had already been blindfolded. At the Civil Administration yard each one was placed separately. He was forced to kneel on his knees next to a tree, his arms tied behind him, his eyes blindfolded. His wound continued to bleed.

Later he was taken to a military physician or a medic. At the clinic they released him, to his relief, from the handcuffs and the blindfold. They cleaned his face and head and bandaged him again. Once more he was taken to the yard, forced to a kneeling position, his arms tied again behind him, and his eyes bliindfolded. Again he told the soldier that it hurts, and the soldier, he says, just tightened the knot more: Luckily the time was already 5:00 p,m. and the sun was not strong. He was not offered water and did not remember to ask for any. Ants started crawling over him and he did not manage to shake them from his body. Everyone who passed by him asked his name. He did not see who asked or how many were asking.

Then they raised him up and took him to the interrogation rooms. He had been interrogated in the past when he requested a permit to travel to Egypt in order to study. Now he was led blindfolded to one of the rooms. There the fabric was removed from his eyes. They sat him on a chair. His hands remaind handcuffed, behind him. On the wall, Fares recalls, there were two pictures. A photograph of Bedouins and a photograph of an area of Sinai and a large map, perhaps of Khan Yunis. The air conditioning was on in the room, and he was shirtless, but he did not feel the cold, only his painful hands. He said once or twice that they hurt. But the interrogator did not move and only told him that in his address book there were names of Intifada activists and of activists abroad. But the only foreign number was that of his brother, who lives in Saudi Arabia. Fares tried to convince him of this and told him that the other numbers were those of other lawyers, of insurance agencies in Israel, of the [Israeli] tax offices in Jerusalem. Then the interrogator left the room. He locked it from outside with a bolt. He returned some time later. "Why were you in that office?" he asked. He replied: "I was at my brother’s. And I said hello to the woman lawyer who was standing there, at the entrance". He was asked further: "Do you know her?" And Fares did not understand: "Who, who, why are you doing this to me?" The interrogator went out again and came back. Fares tried again to say that his hands were tied too tightly. The interrogator called someone in to remove the plastic handcuffs. A week later Fares is horrified to remember how swollen and red his hands were then. The Palestinians present in the room. listening to his experiences, were a bit amused by his detailed description of the pain in his hands. "What is it, being handcuffed for one, two, three hours? That is nothing. You can see how inexperienced he is". Along with that, they admit that the plastic handcuffs hurt much more than the steel ones. And the more you move your hand, the grip only gets tighter.

The second person spoke to him in a more relaxed tone. That was the good interrogator, Fares concluded. And the good interrogator asked him if he had ever been in prison. No. he answered. He looked at his documents (a permit to travel during curfews, a permit to travel to Israel without a magnetic card. a permit to enter prisons in Israel). He asked him if he had a brother in detention Yes, he replied, in Ketziot. Sentenced one year ago to 25 months imprisonment. As if he were an Intifada activist, but actually he was a thief. He even stole things from him. Broke into houses masked, and that is how he was caught.

Then the interrogator apologized to him for the mistake, took him out of the room and returned him to the tree in the yard. Fares wanted to put on the stained shirt. The good interrogator suggested that he should not wear it, because people should not walk around in a blood soaked shirt. But Fares did not want to go around half naked. Fares just thought that he should get home quickly, before the night curfew. It was already seven and at home they wre going crazy with worry and his mother has a heart disease. He was released. A private car stopped and drove him home. His wife fainted when she saw him. Then they took him to the hospital. Seven stitches. A tetanus injection. He felt no pain in his head. For many hours he did not understand what was hapeening to him, did not realize where he was, did not know how to get out of the hospital, which he actually knows well. Now he is filing a complaint. Not so much for him, he says, but so that perhaps they would act differently next time. Along with that, in the interrogation room – he recalls a week later – the good interrogator after he apologized said something that sounds like a proverb in Arabic: "Where will you go to complain when your father is the judge". But those present in the room, who heard Fares? story do not know such a proverb. The interrogator apparently wanted to indicate that there was no one to complain to. The proverb he meant, apparently, goes: "If the judge is your adversary, to whom you are going to complain?"

From the office of the IDF Spokesman it was reported that the affair of attorney Fares, as raised in this article, is under examination.

A neighborhood story

Haaretz, 1 August 1991.
By: Uzi Benziman (transl. by Prof. Israel Shahak)
 
A neighborhood story


That morning Muhammad did not arrive at the daily meeting. The [Jewish] shopowner Hananya waited for him at the gate of Qalandia refugee camp, but he was not there. Hananya gathered his courage, entered and went to the family’s home. Muhammad’s father was horrified: I thought that Muhammad spent the night at your shop, he did not come home last night. Hananya explained that, as every evening, the. previous night he had driven Muhammad from the shop in West Jerusalem to the taxI station In East Jerusalem, for him to get a taxi to his home in Qalandia. The only conclusion was that Muhammad had disappeared.

What follows is a very local story, even a neighborhood story. In any case, it enters the category of issues which are of public interest and therefore it is told here.

Muhammad is a nice guy, a 26 year old bachelor, always smiling and good humored, who works at the neighborhood grocery store in [the Jewish neighborhood] Ramat Danya in Jerusalem. I know him personally. On Monday morning the store owners, Hananya and Avraham Avrahami and their partner, Shabtai Eliyahu, were upset. Their concern for Muhammad’s fate quickly reached the neighborhood homes and myself. They tried in every manner to find out where Muhammad was. For hours they sat at the phone and were directed from one number to the other, from the Jerusalem police to the Ramallah police, from there to detention centers in various places, and from thereto offices, officials, various and sundry departments of the Military Government. The answers they received left them with the same, heavy distress: Muhammad was not in the hands of the [Israeli] authorities. Then where was he? In Qalandia, the father sat, weeping bitterly. He assumed that his son was dead. Rumors abounded in the camp that shots had been fired nearby the previous evening and that one local was killed. The father feared that it was his son.

In Jerusalem, from the small grocery store, Muhammad’s employers did everything in their power to trace him. They were unsuccessful. I also tried. My friend, Danny Rubinstein, the Haaretz expert on the maze of Territories, telephoned and asked and returned to me with an unequivocal announcement: Muhammad is not known to the [Israeli] forces. He was not on the list of those detained anywhere in Judea and Samaria (sic) or in Jerusalem. Indeed, there had been an incident in the Ramallah area and there was an Arab wounded and his name was indeed similar to Muhammad’s, but his ID number was completely different. On the other hand, Muhammad showed no signs of life. Thus the day passed with great concern. There was a suspicion that perhaps Muhammad was no longer among the living.

That evening the shop owners phoned from the grocery store and announced: everything is OK, Muhammad has been found. He had been indeed detained. The following morning I heard Muhammad’s story from his own lips: On Sunday evening Avraham Avrahami had indeed left him at the taxi station in East Jerusalem, and Muhammad had gotten into a taxi and reached Qalandia camp. At the entrance to the camp he witnessed the tail end of an incident: an Israeli Peugeot car, with a yellow [i.e. Israeli] licence plate. was parked and its two occupants were hiding next to the camp entrance. It was evident that minutes earlier the car had been stoned, and that its occupants were looking for the stone throwers.

Muhammad is not a child. He is a man with experience in the current troubles. He avoids being involved in any matter which could put him in trouble either with the Israeli authorities, or with the different [Palestinian] masked shock groups. Although he noticed the tension at the camp entrance, due to the stoning incident, he continued on his way home. In his pocket he had an identity card and a work permit. Suddenly, the two Israelis who were waiting in ambush for the stone throwers caught him. One of them put a gun to his head and ordered him to get into the car. Muhammad tried to resist. He explained that he had just returned from work at the Ramat Danya grocery store, that they could phone the Avrahami brothers and get a reference about him, that he had noticed the two Israelis hiding and understood that their car had been stoned, but nevertheless he had gone close to them because he was innocent, and they knew that that was the situation because they had seen him get out of the taxi. Muhammad spoke as if to the trees and the stones: they forcefully pushed hm Into the car, and when he resisted, they kicked him. Muhammad describes the pair: they both wore b!g yarmulkas, one of them was bearded, they wore civilian clothing. They blindfolded him With a kerchief and pushed his head down. One of them drove while the other sat next to the hostage in the back seat and pushed his head towards the car floor each time Muhammad tried to raise his head. According to Muhammad’s estimate, the drive lasted about one hour. He was bound and led to a certain place and placed on a sandy surface. He is unable to identify the place because his face was covered. Around him he heard noises. Thus he sat for hours. The night was chilly, no one came over to him, no one asked any questions, no one offered him any food or drink.

At about 3:00 a.m. he was taken to a small tent. The rag was removed from his eyes and he was told to sleep. on the floor. No one was in the tent besides himself. It seemed to him that someone had been placed at the entrance to the tent to guard him. At 7:00 a.m. another Jewish civilian came into the tent, ordered him to get up, blindfolded him again and took him back to the sandy surface where he had been the night before. For an entire day he remained there. In the evening someone came over to him and asked: Why are you here? Muhammad replied: I want to know that too. He told the questioner how he had been brought there and explained that he had done nothing wrong and that information about him could be obtained from his employers at the grocery store in Ramat Danya. The man asked: Are you sure you did not throw stones? Muhammad repeated his version. The man took Muhammad’s identity card and work permit and said: "I will check your story". Some time later the man returned, gave Muhammad his documents, and said: "Get up and do not make any trouble. I do not want to see you here". He put Muhammad in a car, drove for several minutes. and stopped. He untied Muhammad’s eyes and ordered him: "Scram quickly. I do not want to see you anymore". Muhammad scramed. He ran away. asking himself if the man would not shoot him in his back. Very quickly he reached the Ramallah-Nablus road. Muhammad estimates that the place where his kidnappers placed him is near Nablus, but he is unable to identify it. He would also find it difficult to identify the man who released him because he was shaking with fear, did not notice details, and saw him for only a few seconds, from the time the blindfold was removed from his eyes and until the man disappeared in his car. He estimates that he was left on the sandy surface the whole of Monday because he was simply forgotten and the man who released him saw him by accident. But that is the supposition of a frightened hostage. During all the hours he sat there in fear, hungry and thirsty, he thought about his worried family and about Avraham, Hananiya and Shabtai. He knew that there were rumors in Qalandia about Jewish revenge groups, who kidnap Arab youths, take them to the mountains and torture them. He thought that that was what would happen to him and cursed his bad luck. Had he been arrested by the police or the army he would have felt better.

On the main road an elderly Arab driver travelling with his family stopped for him. Muhammad was embarrased to ask where exactly they were, because it would not be proper to demonstrate such ignorance on such a matter. On the other hand, he did not want to talk abbut the circumstnaces which had brought him to the road. At 19:15 he arrived at his home. The family received him as if he had fallen out of the sky.

I phoned to check out again with the proper [Israeli] authorities if Muhammad had been arrested or wanted by any branch of our forces. From the other end of the line I was assured that his name was on no such list. Muhammad, therefore, was kidnapped by private persons – according to his description religious settlers wearing yarmulkas – additional evidence of the wild west laws prevailing in the West Bank, which must be raised even in the week the young settler Yuval was stabbed on the way from Kiriyat Arba [near Hebron]. Muhammad is not the real name of the person described here: he is so afraid of the revenge of his kidnappers that he asked me to find another name for him in order to publicize his story, Therefore, any similarity between him and other Palestinian youths, subjected to torture by hot headed settlers, is completely coincidental.

Note: Hundreds if not thousands of such kidnappings happen every month. It can be assumed that the Israeli authorities either explicitely or tacitly support such kidnappings and other forms of settlers’ illegal activities.