Soldiers refuse to return ID cards after detaining three young men
for over seven hours following Land Day demonstration
by Gemma and Nova, IWPS, 1 April 2007
On March 30, 2007, three young men from the village of Rafat were arrested by the Israeli Forces following a nonviolent demonstration on the village’s land. At 1:44pm, the demonstration was finished and all participants were on their way home. The three men—ages 16, 20, and 24—who were walking by were detained on the road by eight soldiers who were checking IDs on their way out of the village. After 30 minutes, the three men were escorted by soldiers down the road away from the village, handcuffed, and forced into separate jeeps, where they were taken into custody for seven hours.
The IOF took the young men to the Kafr Kasem checkpoint outside the village of Az Zawiya. Upon arriving, soldiers stripped each man of his shirt, and tied one man’s shirt around his eyes as a blindfold. They used other blindfolds to blind the others. The men report that over the seven hours in custody, 40 soldiers took turns periodically kicking and hitting them with their hands and their guns in the head, back, and stomach. The 16-year-old reports that he told the soldiers his back hurt, at which point they told him to lie down on his back and began kicking him in the stomach. The men were forced to sit on the floor blindfolded and handcuffed with no food or water. Later they were forced into a small room where soldiers turned on air conditioned cold air and left them there in their undershirts. A female soldier—who had participated in beating the men—stuck a thin wooden stick in each blinded man’s nose and ears, and put small stones down the backs of their shirts. One man also reports that the female soldier asked if he had a girlfriend, and bit his left ear.
While in custody the men were each questioned about the nonviolent demonstration earlier in the day where they had no confrontation with soldiers—nor did anyone else present. Soldiers also asked the detainees where they worked and how much money they made. One soldier smoked in front of them, and when they asked if they could smoke too, he said yes, if they gave him 200 shekels.
At approximately 8:00pm, the three men report being released from custody near a garbage dump where they had to walk two hours home. Soldiers confiscated their identification cards, which are vital for going to work and through checkpoints throughout the West Bank. By Israeli law, Palestinians must carry identification cards with them at all times and being caught without them is grounds for imprisonment.
Background of incident:
The demonstration in Rafat earlier in the day included 150 people as part of the Stop the Wall campaign to commemorate the 31st Land Day celebration in Palestine. Participants marched West from the center of town towards the Israeli Apartheid Wall. One group of men prayed, while another group of 30 men approached the Wall (made of wire fence, electric sensory wire, and razor wire), broke open a gate, and tore down part of the Wall before Israeli forces arrived on the scene at around 1:15pm. All participants retreated to the village and there was no confrontation or clashes with Israeli soldiers during the demonstration.
Since 1976, Land Day is marked by Palestinians to protest against the the colonization and confiscation of Palestinian lands by Israel. Rafat is adjacent to the 27-settlement bloc of Ariel, the largest Israeli settlement network in the West Bank. The Wall around the Ariel bloc stretches for 114 km and grabs within it 120,000 dunums of prime aquifer-laden agricultural land which produce about 30 percent of the West Bank’s olive oil production. The Apartheid Wall dips farthest from the Green Line here and deep into the West Bank by about 22 kilometers.
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