The IDF demonstrated its deterioration during a routine dispersal of human rights activists – while its troops announced a strange policy
April 2011, the entrance to Beit Umar, a small Palestinian village, surrounded by settlements and IDF bases. Unfortunately, the residents of this village – unlike a more famous Gallic village in a similar situation – lack access to a magic potion which makes them invulnerable. So they have to settle for a cheap alternative: Israeli human rights activists, who, as members of the Chosen People, are somewhat less vulnerable than they are.
As it turned out, not on that particular Friday morning. A large number of soldiers from the Kfir Brigade – the IDF brigade dedicated to occupation tasks – moved towards the activists, who according to testimonies were standing peacefully, waving signs and shouting slogans, and within a short while dispersed them using unusual violence – unusual towards Israelis, that it. Palestinians routinely suffer from more violence.
The mess began when an activist demanded the officer present will show him the Closed Military Zone Order, which according to the officer forbade their presence. Here the testimonies diverge: Some of them claimed the officer repeatedly refused to show him the order, others that he showed him the wrong one, which did not refer to the place where they were.
This, it should be noted, is an empty ritual. The IDF can issue such orders pretty much as it pleases, and all the officer had to do was to rewrite the order. A Closed Military Zone Order (CMZO) is one of the cheapest legal fictions used by the IDF, an attempt to make a move which is essentially snarling “get the hell away from me, you’re annoying me” look somewhat more respectable, make you think something resembling a court was actually involved. As such, the CMZO is the bastard child of the infamous English Riot Act, which allowed the forces of His Majesty to inform the people they were facing they were about to use massive force and extreme violence against them if they didn’t make themselves scarce pronto. This shouldn’t surprise you: Some of the “laws” in the occupied territories rely on the British Emergency Acts of 1945, a set of laws which would be described by Menachem Begin in the 1950s as worse than the Nazi legislation.
Be that as it may, the officer lost it when he was informed publicly that he did not make the minimal effort in his legal fiction, and from here things deteriorated quickly. The soldiers threw a stun grenade at the demonstrators, and then started beating, kicking, and throwing them around. Some of the activists would later complain about particularly painful handcuffing – which is a form of ill treatment – and two of them, driven to the Hebron police station had their eyes covered, Goddess knows why. I guess that’s the routine the soldiers are used to.
But what the soldiers said was no less interesting than what they did. One of them told a demonstrator, as he handcuffed him, that he would rape his sister and mother if he could. A lieutenant expressed a strong desire to shoot the activists, and two of them heard a soldier – one of them identified him as a lieutenant colonel, a battalion commander – saying “the Palestinians will pay tonight for what you are doing here now.”
So, the Kfir soldiers are using a policy of “Price Tag”: Activities of human rights activists will be punished by harming the Palestinians. And this, again, came from a Kfir battalion commander. Now, anyone who saw our video about the schticks of the IDF in Urif wouldn’t be surprised in the least; the IDF has been at it for a while now.
The question is this: When will the IDF realize there is nothing more dangerous to what’s left of its legitimacy than the existence of the Kfir Brigade, and when will it be disbanded, to be replaced by a force of disciplined, professional soldiers, under unitary command. The history of Kfir presents it as the one of the most troublesome of the IDF outfits, as far as professionalism and discipline is concerned.
The incident itself ended with the officer perjuring himself and claiming to the police he was attacked by the activists. Unfortunately for him, the activists showed the police investigator a video showing what actually took place, and they were released. Last time I heard, a lie on the part of an officer was grounds for dishonorable dismissal, but that was in the old army, the one which prided itself on reporting the truth. It’s just that an occupation demands, by its very nature, that soldiers act brutishly; and such acts cannot be candidly reported to superiors.
We were recently told by the MPCID that the case was closed, after a disciplinary hearing. Apparently, assault and perjury are no longer grounds for a criminal trial in the IDF nowadays. – See more at: http://yesh-din.org/infoitem.asp?infocatid=277#sthash.6pmY3sRl.dpuf