One morning in early August, M., a resident of Al Ma’asara, went to Ramallah for medical treatment. He took a public taxi back home. When the taxi reached the Container Checkpoint, it was manned by a Border Policeman.
The cop asked for the Palestinians’ ID cards, as per protocol. He took a long time examining M.’s card, then ordered him off the vehicle. As M. climbed down, the policeman slapped him, without any provocation. He tried to slap him again and M. blocked the blow. Then another Border Policeman arrived, and, according to M.’s testimony, the two of them dragged him aside, and beat him repeatedly. When the taxi driver tried to intervene, he was informed it would better for him to return to the vehicle, or he’d get a beating, as well.
The reason for the beating? Nobody told M. anything, but the goons who assaulted him used the name “Ma’asara” time and time again. Al Ma’asara is one of the villages of popular resistance; every Friday it holds a rather peaceful demonstration, which the occupation forces then have to disperse, which hinders their going home for the weekend. M. noted that Border Policemen regularly take part in dispersing the demonstrations, and he believes that’s why the picked him as a victim.
It’s important to note that M. was not arrested or suspected of anything. He merely became a victim of random police brutality. Had there been any evidence against him, he would have been detained, held for a time without seeing a lawyer, then asked to sign the usual Faustian deal by which he would be released without waiting for the end of the legal process, but would do so by confessing to something it’s not at all clear he’s guilty of.
M. estimates he was attacked just because of his place of residence. If this is the case, and we can’t know for certain, this behavior cannot be considered as anything but reprisals – and by people supposed, theoretically, to be sworn to protect the law: an assault of an uninvolved person in order to “send a message” to his village.
Why can’t we know? Because M. won’t complain to the police, and without a complaint there will not be an investigation. Why won’t he complain? Because he’s intelligent enough to be familiar with the Israeli investigative organs and the way they act, and realize nothing will come of his complaint. A second reason is that he is afraid that if he complains, he will lose his entry permit to Israel.
That is, as far as M. is concerned, not only is the police, which is supposed to protect him (laugh all you want – this is what it is supposed to do according to international law and HCJ rulings), becoming a part of the daily terror used against him; the very act of complaining of the abuse will, he estimates, will harm his ability to make a living. We don’t know if this fear is grounded in fact; we hear of it from a lot of Palestinians, but we lack actual documentation of such an act. Not that lack of documentation diminishes the fear.
This was a quick look at the quiet terror regime in the Territories, carried out on a daily basis with your agreement and funding. Think of M. and the beating he took, and of his fear of trying to actualize his rights, the next time the IDF Spokesman speaks of “disturbances of order.” This is the order which it protects.