Friday, May 24, 2013

Palestinian hospitalized after IDF handcuffs, abandons him at checkpoint

A Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem found himself dehydrated in a Hebron hospital after border policemen and soldiers handcuffed, blindfolded and abadoned him in a car on a hot day in May.

A checkpoint

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. But as he was about to find out, that 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 hand them his papers. A. noted they spoke “poor Arabic.”

The soldiers first searched A. before searching his vehicle – they found nothing suspicious. But then the all-too-common occurrence turned surreal. A. says that two border policemen told him that he must speak 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 of the year is May, and the days are hot. A., left blindfolded and handcuffed in the car, asked the person to speak with him in Arabic, saying he was in pain. There was no response, but A. remembers hearing them laughing. That’s the last thing he remembers from the incident.

A. woke up in a hospital in Hebron, after an IDF ambulance transfered him to a Red Crescent 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 rather left near the checkpoint. A family member drove to the checkpoint and found the vehicle there. There, the family member asked the soldiers about the whereabouts of the vehicle’s owner. “The owner stopped the vehicle because he felt unwell,” they responded. A man handcuffs himself, blindfolds himself (what is that routine good for, except intimidating the detainee?) and climbs into a hot vehicle. Sounds reasonable.

A needless handcuffing is a kind of torture. A needless detainment is abuse of power. Think about how much noise would be made if an Israeli citizen were detained by soldiers or police officers, handcuffed without any reason or explanation, and placed in a hot vehicle where he loses consciousness. This happens to people who are Israeli residents, by armed Israeli men, without so much of a squeak. We’ve gotten used to that. More