The Israeli human rights group B'tselem recently reported an incident
of abuse by Israeli soldiers against two young Palestinian men. Today,
the group's investigation of the incident has led to the indictment of
two of the soldiers involved in the abuse.
The group's press release stated, "For years, B'Tselem has reported on security forces' violence against Palestinian civilians. Recently, there has been a significant rise in the number of such reports received by the organization. Usually, the military authorities pay little attention to incidents of this kind, thereby transmitting a message to soldiers that maltreatment of Palestinians is not a grave matter and does not warrant punishment."
Their statement continued, "B'Tselem welcomes the filing of the indictments in this case, and urges the Judge Advocate General's Office to continue to investigate cases of violence and abuse and ensure that the punishment meted out to the perpetrators is severe enough to deter other soldiers from acting similarly."
The incident in question took place near a-Naqora, a village in Nablus District. The two Palestinians who were severely beaten by the soldiers filed complaints and turned to B'Tselem. B'Tselem wrote to the Judge Advocate General's Office and demanded that the matter be investigated. Following B'Tselem's letter in this case and in other cases of abuse, the Military Police investigated eight cases in which soldiers beat and abused Palestinians.
One of the indicted soldiers took the cell phone of Tha'ir Muhsan, who was beaten, and used it to take a picture of his fellow soldiers.
According to Muhsan's testimony, one of the soldiers asked for his ID and asked him to stand on the side of the road next to another Palestinian, who possessed a videotape of Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah. One of the soldiers told him to read what was written in Arabic on the videotape and translate it.
When Muhsan said he didn't know how to translate into Hebrew, the soldier retrieved a wooden staff from his vehicle. According to the youth, the other Palestinian ran and the soldier, unable to catch him, bound Muhsan's hands and forced him to come looking for the other man.
"The soldier asked me 'Why did you tell him to run?' When I said that I hadn't told him anything, he started hitting me…with the stick, mainly in the head. I told him 'That hurts very much, I haven't done anything.'"
"I started bleeding, mostly from my head, and they said 'That's Hizbullah blood, that's Hamas blood'. They threw me into a nearby ditch and threw stones at me, stepped on my face and said 'Here's where you're going to die'," he recounted.
At that point, Muhsan said, the jeep was heard again. "The soldiers put something over my eyes and mouth and threw me into their vehicle so that the jeep wouldn't see." The whole time, he recalled, the driver of the vehicle did nothing to intervene. "When I tried to free myself and shout out to the jeep, he kicked me," he said.
Muhsan claims that the soldiers barely checked passing Palestinians, and hurried them along in order to return to beating him. Finally, they examined his wallet, returned it and released him. "They said: 'If you tell anyone about this, we'll kill you'," he said.
Muhsan said that when he asked for his cellphone, he was beaten again, and when he asked for his ID, he was beaten another time. According to the youth, they issued renewed threats to kill him.
Muhsan said: "I noticed NIS 1,000 were missing from my wallet, so I returned and mentioned it to the soldiers. They laughed and then jumped on me…One of them grabbed me and said 'we'll kill you if you talk'."
The youth finally made it to his home town, where he received stitches to stop the bleeding in his head. He immediately lodged a complaint with Israeli human rights organization B'tselem and met with a representative the same evening.