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Israeli soldiers oblige Palestinian to drink wine after refusal to collaborate


By Fatima Masri - June 19, 2013
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Features]
Tags: [Hebron]

Israeli soldiers checking the identity cards of Palestinian youths in Hebron. Photo (archive) by Lazar Simeonov.

 

Israeli Shin Bet officers in Beit Ummar forced 24-year-old Muhammad Khalil Abu Dayyeh to drink a bottle of wine after he refused to provide the names of Palestinians who participated in recent clashes in the Hebron-district town.  

 
According to Mohammad Ayyad Awad, the spokesman of the Popular Committee Against the Wall in Hebron, Abu Dayyeh was stopped by an Israeli patrol while going home Tuesday afternoon, 11 June 2013, and was led inside the watchtower for questioning.  When he refused to provide the names of his fellow citizens who had allegedly thrown stones at the Israeli forces during the clashes, an officer identified as Abu Sedqi pointed the gun at his head and obliged him to drink a whole bottle of wine. Abu Dayyeh lost consciousness for a couple of hours and was released when he awakened. Locals confirm seeing him in town, visibly under the effect of alcohol. Forcing a Muslim to drink wine implies not only an act of physical but also of psychological violence, as the consumption of alcohol is forbidden in Islam.
 
The Jewish Press contested the truthfulness of the news, commenting ironically:  “a Palestinian Authority news agency has bested itself for Best Fiction of the Year Award by blaming the IDF [the Israeli Defence Forces] for forcing a local Muslim to drink wine at gunpoint.”  The on-line news website asserts that the IDF carried out an investigation and proved  “that the described event did not occur.” Abu Dayyeh was already drunk when he approached the army post, and was invited to leave using “minimal, non-aggressive measures”.
 
According to the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem), Palestinians tend not to be believed when they file a complaint for ill treatment and are victims of a system that protects the IDF rather than the citizen. Police stations are often located inside settlements and the complaints are compiled in Hebrew. In several cases, the testimony has been twisted in the translation. The lack of trust in a system which relies on an Israeli evaluation of its own military forces often prevents complaints from being filed in the first place. 
 
Episodes of ill treatment and deliberate harassment have been widely documented by Israeli NGOs like Breaking The Silence. Former Israeli soldiers are the first ones to give evidence of daily forms of abuse towards Palestinians, including delays at checkpoints, denying detainees food and water and physical abuse. Soldiers recount witnessing an escalation of violence in their own behaviour during their military service, due to mounting frustration for the job, boredom and consideration of Palestinians as  “a herd of sheep or cows”.  Violent behaviour and aggression is “a norm” during the military service, a binding requirement to gain the respect of the other soldiers. Humanity is condemned and sanctioned by denying soldiers weekend leaves and straining them with the worst tasks in order to fuel their nerves and subsequent brutality. 
 
Although abuses of Palestinian citizens are a widespread reality, the area of Hebron is notorious for episodes of violence due to its military rule. The Hebron Protocol officially divides the city in two sectors, H1 under Palestinian rule and H2 under Israeli rule. Despite this, the IDF took full control of H1 after the Second Intifada in 2000. 30 000 Palestinians inhabit the second area, together with around 500 orthodox and zealous Jewish settlers who consider Hebron as the Cave of the Patriarchs and more than 2 000 soldiers protecting them. 
 
International and Israeli law allow security forces to use a degree of violence adequate to the situation. Human rights organisation B’Tselem has criticised the Israeli establishment for verbally condemning acts of violence against Palestinians but failing to legally pursue the offenders. The message is that Palestinian rights can be trampled without consequences, as abuse is a legitimate tool of occupation.
 

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