Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

The IDF crosses every red line in Beit Ummar

From Joseph Dana at +972 magazine:
Yesterday, a group of Ta’ayush activists were returning to Jerusalem after spending the morning with Palestinian farmers in the South Hebron Hills. They made the quick decision to check on the closure of Beit Ummar on the drive home.

“Within five minutes of arriving at a series of concrete barriers in front of the village, we were surrounded by soldiers. We walked to a large gate [which the army had installed two months prior in order to seal the village] at another entrance to the village only to find that it was locked shut” Kurz recalled, “At this point there were a lot of soldiers, many of whom were officers. So we decided to have an impromptu nonviolent protest against the closure of the village.” Speaking to one Israeli activist present at the demonstration, the commander in charge threatened that “every time you do this (demonstrate), I will close the village.”

The commander in charge pronounced the area a ‘closed military zone’, after which one member of the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity group asked the commander to see the closed military zone warrant. Being a stout guy, soldiers felt threated by his presence and attacked him. This set off a chain of violent events as soldiers attacked anyone bold enough to look them in the eye. Virtually everyone was arrested. According to activists, the commander never showed them the closed military zone warrant, a legal right afforded by Israeli law.


The violence exerted by the Israeli soldiers against unarmed Israeli activists is hardly surprising, but it is certainly alarming and is clearly a disproportionate amount of force.

It's important to note that Beit Ummar has been on complete lockdown for a number of weeks. The day of this particular incident, all of the entrances/exits were blocked.  The "large gate" that Kurz describes is the main entrance to the village which connects the village to Route 60, which heads south to Hebron and north to Bethlehem. The secondary entrance was also locked.

Beit Ummar, a Palestinian town, was effectively under siege by the Israeli military and Israeli solidarity activists, trying to gain access to the village and/or to visit folks in Beit Ummar, were attacked without cause.

Dana continues with Kurz's explanation of the hatred the soldiers have for the solidarity activists:
“I understand that soldiers get scared and nervous but they crossed every red line,” Kurz told me, “as the soldiers were beating and arresting everyone, one solider said to me: ‘I would rape your mother and sister if I could’ and another said that he would shoot me if he was allowed to.” In the embedded video, one brave activist caught a solider calling one of the activists an ‘Arab son of a bitch.’
Protest in Beit Ommar, 02.04.2011

Kurz, a former Israeli soldier, was appalled at the inexplicable use of force.
 “I can’t recognize this anymore, these soldiers were totally out line. I’ve been a soldier in their position, I know, but this was way worse than I’ve ever seen or experienced. No one will be held accountable for that, they can do whatever they want. They even get away with murder.”
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A number of the activists in this video are friends, and are good people. It's hard to see people who are dedicated to bringing an end to the occupation through direct action each Saturday, being physically manhandled, shoved to the ground, and verbally assaulted with horrendous threats.

Here's to an overflow of strength, encouragement, and optimism for Amiel, Yehuda, Micha, and the rest of the activists.  Here's to the opening of the gates and fences which imprison the residents of Beit Ummar.

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