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’Tselem— pay 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.
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.
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.
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.