About two weeks ago, ‘A. was on his way from Hebron to Jerusalem. ‘A is a resident of Abu Dis, and married to a resident of East Jerusalem; as such, he enjoys Israeli residency. As he was about to find out, it didn’t help him all that much.
On his way home, ‘A passed through a checkpoint charmingly named “the humanitarian checkpoint,” where he ran into a surprise roadblock, manned by a mixed force of soldiers and Border Policemen. The soldiers asked ‘A to turn off his engine, leave the car, and then give them his papers. ‘A noted they spoke “bad Arabic.”
The soldiers searched ‘A, and then searched the vehicle. They found nothing suspicious, but then the daily incident turned surreal. ‘A says that two Border Policemen told him surely he speaks Hebrew. ‘A, who does not, denied it. The two began laughing, and then someone – ‘A was with his back to him, so he can’t say if it was a soldier or a policeman – held him from behind, handcuffed him, blindfolded him, put him in the vehicle and left him there.
The time is May, and the days are hot. ‘A., left blindfolded and handcuffed in the car, asked the person to speak with him in Arabic, and said he was in pain. The soldier or policeman did not respond; ‘A remembers hearing them laughing. That’s the last thing he remembers from the incident.
‘A woke up in a hospital in Hebron, where he was brought by a Red Crescent ambulance. The latter received him from an IDF ambulance. ‘A reached the hospital in a state of total disorientation, likely as a result of dehydration and sunstroke. He was given a fluid infusion in the IDF ambulance.
‘A is suspected of nothing. He was not detained. His vehicle was not confiscated, but left near the checkpoint. A family member drove to the checkpoint, and found the vehicle there. He asked the soldiers in the outpost where is the vehicle’s owner, and received the marvelous answer: “The owner stopped the vehicle because he felt unwell.” Of his own volition, of course, without any involvement of our armed forces. A man handcuffs himself, blindfolds himself – what is that routine good for, except intimidating the detainee? – and puts himself into a hot vehicle. Sounds reasonable.
A needless handcuffing is a sort of torture. A needless detainment is abuse of power. Think how much noise would be made if an Israeli citizen would be detained by soldiers and cops, and without any reason or explanation would be handcuffed, put into a hot vehicle, and there loses consciousness. This happens to people who are Israeli residents, by Israeli armed men, without so much of a squeak. We’ve gotten used to that.