By Tamar Fleishman
“Creating a feeling of persecution” is the code name for the IDF’s activity intended to make the lives of the Palestinians a living hell, while using mental and physical terror that condemn an entire population to a life of fear.
Soldiers that “Break the Silence” speak of this in their testimonies that are documented in the organization’s archive:
One testifies that: “Part of the idea of getting those that are wanted to feel constantly persecuted, is that you have to be on site, to show up from unexpected places, to cause the population to feel discomfort. It’s all part of the deal, it’s necessary for operational reasons”.
And another soldier says: “Sometimes there is something that has to be done, sometimes there are also rooky companies that need training. And so they search for a house that seems, on the aerial photos, to be convenient from operational aspects… and then they enter the house at night and preform a lock-up routine on the house, they send squads that surround house and shout at the people to come out, then they take them outside and check who is inside and that’s it. You could say the aim is to cause an unspecified disturbance. Creating a feeling of persecution, a situation in which the army enters the villages and preforms inspection trainings, and many times it’s these rooky companies that do these kinds of things”.
The means to create a feeling of persecution include violent patrols inside villages and towns during all hours at whatever time the patrollers see fit, and bursting into homes at the dead of night and preforming false arrests of adults and minors. They are all brutal, they all erase the individual and their goal is to spread fear in the community without there being an operational or defensive need for it, not even the army claims there to be one.
Nineteen year old Ahmed Haled Abed Alrauf is one of the many that had become victims of false arrests. Ahmed was born and raised at Qalandiya refugee camp. On the 4th of June 2013, the military court at Ofer sentenced him to sixteen months in prison and a fine of 1,500 Shekels, with a probation sentence of eight months for a period of three years. People know each other at Qalandiya refugee camp, and the rumor spreads throughout the winding alleys and grabs on to all the residents of the camp.
Ahmed’s story doesn’t begin on the day of his arrest but years earlier, in the midst of the Al Aqsa intifada, on the day death took hold of his father. “He was a good man, no one had a problem with him, he would just walk through the streets. Back then, kids used to throw stones and the soldiers would fire. They shot him in the back”, a friend who had witnessed the event said.
Ahmed was eight when he lost his father and as the elder son of a destitute family, he was forced to take it upon him to provide for his family from an early age. Friends describe him as a good child that “would help his mother”.
Even on the day of his arrest, the 1st of January 2013, which was the day the refugee camp marked the 48th anniversary to the foundation of the Fatah, Ahmed was not among the celebrators, he proceeded to work his shift at the Falafel stand. Ahmed also wasn’t among the tens of youngsters who came to the streets at the end of the rally to protest against the occupation and stone the fortified tower. The soldiers exited the checkpoint and shot at the protesters in order to push them back. Some crossed the road towards the shops at the front of the refugee camp and came back with prisoners. One of them was Ahmed who was hunted down with a half-eaten sandwich in his hand. I took a photo.
Ahmed was transferred to Ofer prison and he was charged with throwing stones and gasoline bottles.
I believed that some of the photos I took were to prove his innocence. I distributed the photo that showd Ahmed took no part in the events of that day and arrived at the court to hand them over to the lawyer, and say that I would be happy to testify to the fact that Ahmed stood on the opposite side to the place from where the stones were thrown and that on that day no gasoline bottles were thrown. Only stones were thrown.
Then reality took a strike at me. The lawyer told me of the twist in the plot, the date stated by the prosecution as the one in which Ahmed threw the gasoline bottle has been changed to the 14th of November 2012 (a month and a half before the event I had documented). The bottle hit an officer’s leg and that officer was at Qalandiya on the day of the arrest, he identified the person who hit him by the shirt he was wearing which had the word FOX on it (a fabricated story?!).
The prosecution asked that Ahmed be sentenced to three years of imprisonment. The lawyer reached a settlement with the prosecution.
Hava Halevi who documented the events inside the court writes:
“The charges to which he had admitted were that during public riots near Qalandiya checkpoint he threw a “hive of fireworks” (sic) at IDF soldiers. That is to say, beforehand prefect order was preserved and everyone knew their place. This euphemism comes to show how language creates consciousness; if you call a protest “a roit”, it is obviously a bad thing, because everyone knows that order is good and when there is no order, it should quickly be restored. And indeed, the IDF soldiers hurried to Qalandiya checkpoint and imposed order, and among the imposers of order was an officer that goes by the name of Refael Dov Malhi who claimed to have been injured by fireworks. How was he injured? What happened to him? Are there any medical documentations of this?
No. Instead, there was insufficient evidence to prove that there was such an injury. Officer Malhi testified that he was injured but ‘there was no need for medical treatment’.
The officer will be compensated for his unproven injury for which he did not need any medical attention, with a sum of a thousand Shekels that will come out from the pocket of the man that may or may not have injured his leg”.
Since the arrest the phrase “creating a feeling of persecution” has been echoing in my head, as well as something a resident of Deheishe refugee camp told me:
“There are no families (in Palestine) that don’t have or had never had one of its members in jail”. And during the long period of time in which I was waiting outside to be let into the court, I saw the meshed fence of the den that is the hall way to the court and in it were tens of lifeless people waiting to see their loved ones being trialed, and I felt that survival was the heroism of these people, and this passive resistance is perhaps harder and demands more strength of spirit than active resistance.
(Translated for the Palestine Chronicle by Ruth Fleishman)
– As a member of Machsomwatch, once a week Tamar Fleishman heads out to document the checkpoints between Jerusalem and Ramallah. This documentation (reports, photos and videos) can be found on the organization’s site: www.machsomwatch.org. The majority of the Spotlights (an opinion page) that are published on the site had been written by her. She is also a member of the Coalition of Women for Peace and volunteer in Breaking the Silence. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.