Tuesday, April 1, 2008

just trying to live

Quick question: which would you choose, your dignity and self respect, or your eye? Can you imagine having to make that choice?

Time has an article about how Israel's intelligence agents try to force Gazans needing medical treatment to spy for Israel in order to get permits to cross the boarder. According to the Israeli group Physicians for Human Rights, at least 30 Palestinians have been denied permission to leave Gaza for urgent medical care because the have refused to collaborate. The article tells the story of Bassam al Wahedi, who was trying to leave Gaza via the Erez crossing for surgery to restore the sight in one of his eyes. He describes the treatment he recieved at Erez on his way to a scheduled surgery:

Next, says al Wahedi, three plainclothed Israelis with pistols and walkie-talkies led him past cages with growling dogs to a room where he was strip searched and interrogated by a man who identified himself as a captain in Shin Bet, the Israeli domestic intelligence agency. Al-Wahedi claims that his interrogator told him in fluent Arabic: "We want you to work for us." When al-Wahedi protested, saying he had nothing to do with the militants, the Shin Bet officer allegedly replied: "We issue the [medical] permits and we can cancel them. If you don't get operated on, you'll lose your sight. What good will you be?"

"I told him that we would talk after my operation, when I crossed back through Erez," recounts al-Wahedi. Nothing doing, replied the intelligence officer, who, according to al-Wahedi, handed him an Israeli cellphone SIM card and a phone number. "He wanted me to go back to Gaza and collaborate with them for two weeks, and if they liked what I did, I could come to Israel and have my eye operation with the best doctor in Tel Aviv."

It looks like he chose his dignity and honor over his eye. (HT The Black Iris)

In a Ha'aretz article called Blaming the Victim, Gideon Levy describes another case of a Palestinian just trying to live his daily life and having things go horribly wrong. It's the story of a man from Hebron who saved up to buy a washing machine for his family of 7. He lives in the part of Hebron where Palestinians are not allowed to drive cars, so he was carrying the new washer in a box on his head through a checkpoint. When a soldier threatened to break the new machine, the man pushed the soldier's hand away and the man got a severe beating in front of his wife and kids for it. But the story gets worse, and he ends up in court charged with trying to assault the soldier and take his weapon. With a washing machine on his head....

Most Palestinians are just trying to live their lives, and get through the day with their dignity. I will leave you with two videos. The first is of a pregnant Palestinian woman being turned back at a checkpoint when her husband begs the soldiers to let her through to get to the doctor.

The next shows the harassment of young girls passing through a checkpoint near Bethlehem. And the soldiers are bragging about it!


Umm Ibrahim said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

Ugh... what vile, disgusting "£$%^! Too many expletives coming to mind here so use whichever you choose. How the world still chooses to ignore this behaviour and demonise the Arabs is incredible.

L_Oman said...

I have to say I was shivering when I watched these clips. Words can't even express the fear that overcame me. :(