After the horrific story of soldiers abusing two Palestinian workers, and forcing one of them to drink the soldiers’ urine until he fainted, one of the soldiers stood in court and admitted to the hidden truth which even the press was hesitant to admit: “What we did was inhuman”.

The extreme brutality which revealed a hidden face of the Israeli army was revealed during the trial of the soldiers who abused the workers and forced one of them to drink their urine.

The event took place on September, 2004 when soldiers based at a military checkpoint in Abu Dis, near Jerusalem, stopped Sameeh Rahhal, 22, from Bethlehem, and Firas al-Bakry, 22, from Hebron, and other workers.

The soldiers claimed that the workers were ‘illegally’ staying in Jerusalem and decided to “punish them”. And took them to an abandoned hotel, which the army was using as a military post.

There, at the ‘hotel’ the abuse and cruelty of the soldiers was exposed on its highest level.

Sameeh said in his testimony that soldiers forced him to choose between having his hands and legs broken or drinking the soldiers’ urine.

“First, the soldiers stopped us, along with dozens of workers, then they drew lots with our identity cards, randomly choosing two, and released the other workers”, Sameeh said.

Sameeh and Firas and were forced – in what Israeli soldiers called ‘entertainment’ – to choose one from three paper notes inside a box.

The “Game’ which soldiers chose to play, included three sorts of punishments; breaking hands, legs and drinking from bottles filled with the soldiers’ urine.

“I told them I would not do it, and they attacked me and sprayed my face with one of the urine bottles, I pushed one soldier away from me, then six soldiers attacked me and pointed their M-16 rifles in my face, this time I had to choose between drinking urine and death”, Sameeh added.

He had to drink the urine until fell unconscious. After that, soldiers left him there on the ground until he was found by other civilians near the checkpoint, and was transferred to the Abu Dees clinic, where his stomach was emptied of the urine, and he was then moved to Beit Jala Hospital.

An Israeli military court convicted Nier Levy, the commander of the unit, of abusing the workers and sentenced him to 14 months, and one year on parole.

Apparently, abusing a Palestinian in this inhuman way and degrading him, threatening him with death, is not even grounds for a demotion.

The courts’ ruling read that Levy, along with other soldiers, identified as Ariel Simhayev, Alexander Meropolsky, Robert Schneider and Yussi Moshiashiviely, jumped over the two workers, clubbed them, then one of the soldiers inserted his rifle top in the mouth of Sameeh and said, “When I say I will shoot, I mean I will shoot”.

The soldiers also found a piece of soap on Sameeh’s bag, and forced him to ‘paint’ his face with it, and rub it with sand, as if he was washing himself.

Later on, the soldiers told him to jump from a high window, but he said that it’s too high, and then they ordered him to jump from a lower window, which caused several injuries, and forced him to drink the urine until he fell unconscious.

Sameeh was transferred to a clinic in Abu Dis, and received medication to clean his stomach, and then he was transferred to Bethlehem Governmental Hospital.

Simhayev was sentenced to 7 and a half months, Schneider was sentenced to eight months, Moshiashiviely was sentenced to four months in public service, ‘since he did not directly participate in the event’, but did not file a report against the soldiers who warned him not to, while Meropolsky was not sentenced yet.

Israeli soldiers manning the random checkpoints throughout the occupied Palestinian territories often force Palestinians to go through such ‘entertainment’. A civilian in Hebron recently suffered multiple fractures in his limbs when he was forced to go through the same choices Sameeh had to choose from.

Yet, military checkpoints remain in every part of Palestine, separating the cities from each other, and even from their surrounding villages which depend on these cities socially and economically.

At each of these checkpoint, residents are often forced to undress, to dance, to stand in the sun or rain for several hours. Sick residents and even ambulances transporting patients in urgent conditions have to wait until they are allowed to pass, and are often blocked from passing through at all.

Over 100 patients have died at checkpoints since 2000, when Israeli troops prevented them from reaching hospitals. Even unborn babies have to suffer from these checkpoints, and die, those infants have been sentenced to death, even before seeing the light of this world, even before they managed to know what it is like out there!

One of these cases was the fetus of Amnah Abdul-Karim Safadi, 19, from a village near Nablus; the baby died before being born because the mother was denied access to the hospital at Huwwara checkpoint. She was delayed for 5 hours before she could access Alitihad hospital in Nablus.

 

Translated and edited by, Saed Bannoura, IMEMC

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