14th January 2017 | International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil team | Hebron, occupied Palestine
Imagine coming to a checkpoint, manned by a relentless occupying army, on your way home from hospital, holding your new baby who is less than a month old. At the checkpoint, the occupying army refuses to let you pass – insisting that you put your baby on the dirty table, so they can force you through ‘security’ checks. They have no regard for your tiny baby: any Palestinian is considered a threat.
That’s exactly what happened on Friday night at Shuhada checkpoint in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron). This is the same checkpoint where, just two days before, Israeli forces denied passage to Palestinians trying to reach their homes, as they were sleeping inside the checkpoint. Israeli forces show no mercy or humanity, no regard for life. Whether it’s a old woman hardly able to walk, or a 20-day old baby, ‘security’ is the word used to excuse the occupying army from treating Palestinians with respect and dignity. Palestinians are collectively considered a population that is a threat to the “Jewish Democratic State.” The state neglects, marginalizes and abuses this exact civilian population in the name of security.
With this mindset, even a 20-day old baby, wrapped up in blankets against the cold and freezing winds is just that – a ‘threat’, stripped of all humanity, not regarded as a human being. Occupying forces demanded that the man put the baby on a table in order to go through normal ‘security’ checks. The baby was treated just like anything else a Palestinian may attempt to bring through a checkpoint: a plastic bag of vegetables, a school-bag filled with books, all a potential threat. The baby had to be kept on a table next to the metal detector, like a bag of vegetables, while the man passes through the metal detector. The metal detector is yet another opportunity for the soldiers to harass Palestinians. Regardless of whether the detector indicates that there’s any metal, a person cannot continue through the checkpoint until the occupying army decides that the person is fine to pass. Maybe they will force them to lift up their shirts for a little extra humiliation. Then the plastic-bags have to be opened one by one, so the occupying army can inspect the contents.
In the midst of this humiliating procedure, the Israeli soldiers forced a man to put the tiny, fragile 20-day old baby on the table like any other possession. There was no respect for the baby’s wellbeing. No consideration of the freezing temperatures, or the possibility of bodily injury. After precariously leaving the baby on the table, the soldiers then forced the Palestinian man to bring the baby through the metal detector, with the baby in his arms. Any arguments appealing to the humanity of the occupying army were ignored.
The absurdity and cruelty of this situation demonstrate how even the youngest Palestinians – babies – are treated like potential terrorists by the occupying army. This child, who has been alive less than a month, has already been forced to feel the full brunt of the continuous illegal occupation that is attempting to ethnically cleanse Palestine of any Palestinian presence. Every Palestinian is a threat. This dangerous ideology is perpetuating a culture of remorseless ethnic cleansing by Israeli forces.