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Behind the story: A beating caught by settlers’ camera exposes violent encroachment on a village’s land

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This video shows Israeli soldiers beating Muhammad Dar Sa’ad on April 26th. As the camera zooms in (at 1:36 and 5:14) it becomes clear that Dar Sa’ad is a youth. The Israeli military forces are shown kicking and punching him prior to his detainment and arrest.

Of course, Israeli soldiers beating young Palestinians is nothing new; we can read about it almost any day (like, today). But because this assault was caught on camera it’s being investigated. And while it provides another window into Israel’s military justice system, this is also the story of a cover up.

The focus on Dar Sa’ad’s alleged actions (stonethrowing) distracts the media from the real story. Another investigation initiated April 26th: another Israeli settlement in occupied territory, violently taking land, and protected by Israeli soldiers.

First Dar Sa’ad’s story. As B’Tselem stated in a report yesterday, the videotape above took a long time to come out. And when it did, Dar Sa’ad was freed. From B’Tselempay attention to why we even have the video:

Palestinian youth detained for a month, released after footage revealed

The Military Police Investigations Unit (MPIU) will investigate a serious incident in which soldiers and Border Policemen beat a Palestinian youth while arresting him. The incident was captured by a security camera of the Ofra settlement, but the camera operators diverted the camera from the violent scene, apparently so as to avoid documenting it, and the video footage of the arrest was not transferred to the detainee’s defense attorney for nearly a month, during which time the youngster was held in detention. The MPIU only notified B’Tselem today that an investigation is to be opened, after the organization wrote urgently yesterday to demand investigation into the violent arrest and into suspicions of disruption of proceedings and failure to report a crime by the persons involved in the filming or persons who knew of it.

The incident took place in the village of Silwad, east of Ramallah, on 26 April 2013. However, the video footage was revealed only after the detainee, Muhammad Dar Sa’ad from the village of al-Mazra’ah a-Sharqiyah, was held in detention for nearly a month, and only thanks to efforts made by his attorney, Nery Ramati of Gaby Lasky and Partners, Law Offices. Once the footage was revealed, the military prosecution withdrew its claim that Dar Sa’ad had thrown stones and he was released.

In its request to open a criminal investigation, B’Tselem stated that the footage of the arrest had clearly been viewed by several different persons before reaching Att. Ramati: The camera operators, the security coordinator of the Ofra settlement, and the police investigators and military prosecution, who learned of the violence last week. All were obliged to transfer the footage to the appropriate law enforcement authorities and to demand that the severe violence documented in to be investigated; their choice to refrain from action raises grave suspicion of disruption of legal proceedings. In addition, soldiers and officers who were at the scene witnessed the violence, but none of them reported it to the law enforcement authorities in real time as required by law and by military orders.

Protesters march to Israeli outpost near Israeli settlement of Ofra

April 26, 2013 Photo: Noah Browning/Reuters

Go back to April 26th and the original event was widely covered.  Reuters reported that a demonstration of 500 Palestinians against an Israeli settler outpost was broken up by Israeli forces. At our site,  Ira Glunts got on the story that day, writing, “In huge demonstration against lawless settler outpost, 500 Palestinians are teargassed by Israeli army.”

That lawless outpost is an expansion of Ofra, the settlement whose camera operator recorded portions of the beating on the video involved in the cover-up, the video that supported the youth’s testimony that he was not throwing stones that day.

A protester near Deir Jarir waves a Palestinian flag in front of Ofra

  Settlement April 26, 2013 (Photo:Mohamed Torokman/Reuters)

Why were hundreds of Palestinians  marching to Ofra that day, including a Muslim and a Christian cleric– “the largest [demonstration] of its kind for years,” per Reuters? Noah Browning opens his report by saying the villagers had been attacked by settlers twice that week. And Ma’an reports “dozens” of settlers from Ofra raided a nearby village in the middle of the night, destroying property and torching cars.

And four days before the demonstration, Ma’an News gave the true narrative of events: that settlers had repeatedly gone into a Palestinian village whose land they coveted and committed violent acts.

Witnesses told Ma’an that settlers from Ofra entered the village of Deir Jarir and attacked property in the village, setting fire to 10 vehicles.

In recent weeks, fierce clashes have broken out in the area as Palestinians try to protect private land slated for annexation to Ofra.

Earlier in April, a group of Israeli settlers assaulted a resident of Silwad who sustained bruises and was hospitalized.

What is an outpost? As Reuters reported, they are settlers’ mobile homes, plopped down on the village land of Deir Jareer. Completely illegal under international law. But on the morning of Friday April 26, Israeli army jeeps and soldiers surrounded “a cluster of half a dozen makeshift settler homes” as the men from Deir Jareer gathered for prayers on an outcropping near the illegal outpost.

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Palestinian village men tear gassed by Israeli army, pushed back

April 26, 2013 Photo: Noah Browning

This is how the illegal settlements expand. The settlers set up outposts, the outposts are then protected by Israeli security forces, formally or otherwise. The settlers attack the villages and villagers.

And Palestinians dare to resist this robbery and destruction. As Sami Issa, a villager, told Reuters’s Noah Browning: ”This was a peaceful area. We’re gathered today to say we refuse to be attacked and driven off our own land. We want their army to pull the settlers out.”

Of course you never hear about violent settlers being arrested, let alone beaten. One reason is that being Israeli citizens, they are not subject to the military justice system to which their Palestinian neighbors are subject. Could there be any clearer evidence of apartheid

Israeli military told Browning they were going to  investigate what happened between Ofra and Deir Jareer last month.

The Israeli military has said it is investigating the events leading up to the march. Asked about Friday’s incidents, an army spokesman said: “Soldiers responded to a group of some 250 stone-throwing youths with riot dispersal means near Ofra.”

What are the chances that investigation will result in imprisoning some of those Ofra settlers for torching cars and throwing stones– in anything like the way that young Muhammad Dar Sa’ad was imprisoned for a month? What are the chances of those criminals being set upon by soldiers? What is the chance that Israel will investigate those illegal outposts (bemoaned and investigated by Peace Now; but still they multiply)?

No, the only real likelihood is that those same settlers will repeat their actions– using violent provocative incursions to enable Israel’s military to beat and imprison Palestinian youth right before the watchful eye of the settlers who instigated the madness.

And John Kerry’s “economic plan” is supposed to fix the injustices of occupation? It won’t.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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18 Responses

  1. The Hasbara Buster
    The Hasbara Buster
    May 29, 2013, 1:54 pm

    In the information war, this video is an instance of friendly fire. The settler rejoicing in the beating of the Palestinian youth provided close ups that proved invaluable to document the war crime. But how long until some Zio declares it an example of Pallywood?

  2. just
    May 29, 2013, 3:57 pm

    First a crime, then the coverup, then the “investigation” that leads to no punishment or accountability for any Israeli, IOF, or settler. The “investigators” pooh- pooh the truth ALL of the time.

    What was it that Ramzi wrote the other day?

    “he hit me and he cried first, he hit me and he complained first.”

  3. ritzl
    May 29, 2013, 4:35 pm

    Great play by play of the settlement process, Annie. And the inevitable Palestinian anger, which is in turn instantly transmogrified into “intrinsically violent” and/or “stone throwers” by the hasbara apparatus.

    No normal human would stand for this, particularly with the restraint that the Palestinians resist it with.

    Thanks. Good one.

    • annie
      May 29, 2013, 6:50 pm

      you’re welcome ritzl. there’s more to this than meets the eye tho. haaretz covered the leaked video and the trial but there was no mention of the big demonstration that day, just allegedly throwing stones at them during a violent demonstration in the village of Silwad on April 26.

      well the ‘demonstration’ wasn’t in the village of silwad. if you open ira’s link he says:

      The peaceful main demonstration, which included a Muslim and a Christian cleric, was preceded by a group of stone-throwing youths. The entire group, which included residents of the nearby village of Silwad and, according to various reports on Twitter, was forced to retreat when the army fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the protesters.

      so where did they retreat? watch the video (the time begins right before 5pm on the video) as the soldiers pick up demonstrators retreating back to….silwad. and as they come back the very settlement that’s been harassing them is filming while the soldiers pick up (and attack) the retreating demonstrators who were running away from the teargas into a..trap set for them.

      so of course this is somewhat of a theory (which is why some of my text was cut, too confusing) but why do you think the police were investigating this to begin with? because there was already an investigation going on about events that day (according to browning’s/reuters 4/26 report) and that’s probably how the video came into their hands originally. just a hunch of course. but the two investigations merged, although that’s not mentioned. the whole cause for the other demonstration was kept out of the press narrative in reporting the beating of the youth. and haaretz even calls him a man. but anyone who observes the video can tell he isn’t.

      • ritzl
        May 29, 2013, 7:33 pm

        Heh. More to it, eh?

        I was almost going to comment something to the effect of, “In all fairness to Israel, the video became public in the context of an Israeli investigation…” Unusual, if not a first. But now, if I understand you correctly, its release was more or less compelled.

        On the overlap of which settlement instigates which villages angry response, it’s really hard to follow, specifically, as in this case, without a map and/or graphical timeline.

        I realize I’m not the brightest bulb, but other than generically, I can’t track this very well. My suspicion is that people that are even less familiar with the proximity and ongoing nature of Israeli incitement would have a hard time understanding just how prevalent and pernicious the problem you describe in the main article is.

        NOT a criticism…


      • annie
        May 29, 2013, 8:12 pm

        well ritzl, i’ve noticed the slightest differences in names and places in the press make things much more difficult to follow. notice the ma’an blockquote. the mention of both silwad and Deir Jarir now look at this map of ofra:

        you can move it around and find al-Mazra’ah a-Sharqiyah, where the youth who was attacked is from, silwad and Deir Jarir. see how close silwad is to ofra, and you can tell in the video too. according to the map it’s only about 1000 meters away.

        so if ira’s tweets are correct (and i wish he’s embedded them) the people of silwad joined the demo. so if they had a big demo against the settler violence coming from ofra, with over 500 people, according to reuters, it was probably people from all those villages. and it looks like the military was inside silwad when the people retreated from the demo (time stamp on the video) and they are all runningand you can see many in the hills. and b’tselem said the youth was picked up outside the village of silwad. now, unless there’s some documentation of a separate demo inside silwan that day, the demo was probably part of the same demo. note how close everything is together, relatively speaking. and this settlement is wanting to expand and they want that land around them.

      • ritzl
        May 29, 2013, 11:04 pm

        Wow. Thanks. Yer amazing, AR.

      • annie
        May 29, 2013, 11:39 pm

        not really~but thanks! sometimes i go off the res. one more thing… But now, if I understand you correctly, its release was more or less compelled.

        yes, it was definitely compelled. read B’tselem, there’s more at the link

        ……In its request to open a criminal investigation, B’Tselem stated that the footage of the arrest had clearly been viewed by several different persons before reaching Att. Ramati: The camera operators, the security coordinator of the Ofra settlement, and the police investigators and military prosecution, who learned of the violence last week. All were obliged to transfer the footage to the appropriate law enforcement authorities and to demand that the severe violence documented in to be investigated; their choice to refrain from action raises grave suspicion of disruption of legal proceedings.


        Defense counsel Att. Nery Ramati appealed the decision. In a hearing held two days later, on 9 May 2013, Judge Lieut. Col. Zvi Lekach of the military appeals court left Dar Sa’ad in detention, but ordered the military prosecution to complete the investigation and obtain the footage captured by the security camera at which, according to the soldier’s testimony, the detainee had thrown stones.

        However, in another hearing held on 20 May 2013, the prosecution was unable to present the footage, even though a police investigator had watched it. The military prosecutor admitted that “there is difficulty in obtaining the photographs from that community” and that the prosecution was trying to talk to the Ofra security coordinator.

        It was only on 22 May 2013, almost a month after the arrest, that the footage shown to all parties. When it transpired that the footage supported the Palestinian detainee’s version that he had been beaten by the soldiers arresting him, the prosecution decided to withdraw the charge of stone-throwing and replace it with a charge of participating in an unlicensed procession. Dar Sa’ad was released after being convicted in a plea bargain for the minor offense of participating in an unlicensed procession.

  4. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich
    May 29, 2013, 5:27 pm

    totally off topic: a tribute to Yara Abbas. May the world be blessed with more women like Yara and Annie.

  5. DICKERSON3870
    May 29, 2013, 6:14 pm

    RE: “Noah Browning opens his report by saying the villagers had been attacked by settlers twice that week. And Ma’an reports “dozens” of settlers from Ofra raided a nearby village in the middle of the night, destroying property and torching cars.” ~ Annie Robbins

    MY COMMENT: And yet, Barbara Boxer and AIPAC* want to reward these settler thugs by allowing them to visit the U.S. without even having to obtain visas! ! !
    Allowing Israel to join the Visa Waiver Program would apparently mean that the most rabidly extremist (Israeli) settlers from the West Bank (who perpetrate “price tag” attacks like setting fires to mosques) would be able to willy-nilly enter the U.S. without a visa! If that isn’t a “security threat” to the U.S., then I don’t know what the hell is.

    * SEE: “Aipac Asks Congress to Approve Israel Visa Waiver Program”, by Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, 4/13/13

    [EXCERPT] Aipac, with its hand deeply in the pocket of the U.S. taxpayer on Israel’s behalf, and with Congress in its own pocket, has devised proposed legisltation that would even further surrender of U.S. sovereignty to Israel. It’s advancing a visa waiver program that would allow both countries to waive documents for their citizens. This would mean Israelis could visit the U.S. without getting visas and vice versa. Except that there’s a catch. A BIG catch.
    Anyone who’s been reading this blog or the Israeli press knows that Israel routinely denies entry to U.S. citizens. Almost always (with a few exceptions for troublesome Jews) it’s Arab-Americans who get bounced. Invariably, they get to Ben Gurion, they are interrogated by the Shin Bet, which decides it doesn’t like their answers for one reason or another (or no reason), and they’re put on the next plane back to the States.
    Israel makes no apologies about doing this. It hardly ever offers a reason. Even when it does, it’s usually lame and along the lines of: the applicant didn’t cooperate with our questioning. Which could mean anything.
    In one case, they sent packing an American woman who planned to teach at the Friends School in Ramallah largely because she’d published a post at Electronic Intifada that supported the Right of Return.
    In other words, Israel denies entry not for security reasons, but for purely political reasons. That is, unless you view a Palestinian American teacher as a security threat because she has written an idea the Shin Bet despises. . .


  6. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich
    May 29, 2013, 6:15 pm

    When I talked to [surviving] Vets/Marines about their days back in Lebanon, I noticed this [almost] universal contempt they felt for the needlessly provoking and unprofessional conduct of IDF forces. It seems very little has changed since then.

    My personal ‘sea change’ happened back in the early ’80s, when I saw footage of IDFers trying to break the arms of Palestinians with rocks [and couldn’t believe my eyes]. That unruly tempest still crawls through the woodwork in the back of my mind no matter how much I try to erase those images.

    Ever since then, that feeble rock tumblin’ down the slippery slopes of my moral fiber, has had no time to gather any moss.

    To this day I still wonder why so many self-proclaimed ‘liberals’ did not see the same images I stumbled upon over the past 2 decades or remained that quite/silent after witnessing the same things I did.

    At times it’s difficult to watch the self destructive behavior of something you used to love, that’s for sure.

    • seafoid
      May 30, 2013, 10:24 am

      “Jim Gamble, the founding head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, said there was a theory that men such as Bridger and Hazell became caught up in a “spiral of abuse”.”They begin to want more, they want access not to still images but to video images, and then they want to get more real experience. And through the internet they realise that they are not alone,” Gamble said.”

      I think the IDF must be similar, with palestinians instead of kids the targets .
      And if everyone in the IDF is indoctrinated to abuse it must be hard to resist the temptation.

  7. ToivoS
    May 29, 2013, 9:45 pm

    Those ubiquitous, intrusive security cameras may have some positive uses after all. It probably means that they will come up with automatic erase features to protect the police from embarrassing “incidents”. I am sure that Israeli security firms will be the first to bring this new technology to London, New York, etc.

  8. CloakAndDagger
    May 30, 2013, 4:01 am

    OT: Israeli DM Threatens to Attack Russian Ships

    That shitty little country is completely off its rocker!!! RIP.

  9. iResistDe4iAm
    May 30, 2013, 5:11 am

    If Israel didn’t use Jewish settler families as human shields by placing them deep inside enemy territories,
    then it would not need to arm the settlers to their teeth,
    nor deploy substantial military forces to save the settlers from their victims especially after they go on land grabbing and ‘price tag’ rampages against defenceless Palestinian villages.

    Not only does Israel use Jewish settlers as its first line of offence (land grabbing marauders), but it also uses them as its first line of defence (human shields) in potential future war zones.

  10. seafoid
    May 30, 2013, 8:32 am

    And the little Jewish boxes made of ticky tacky on the palestinian hillsides
    they all look the same
    and the people in the houses
    they all breathe hasbara
    and don’t go to the university

  11. Citizen
    May 30, 2013, 9:38 am

    Thanks for your hard work on this, Annie. It shows. Now, how to put this effectively in a tiny tweet?

  12. Citizen
    May 30, 2013, 10:57 am

    Here’s another take on the incident:,7340,L-4385472,00.html

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