Thursday, March 15, 2007

Another day, another death

OCCUPATION, as a young Israeli army refuser remarked, means that "some 19-year old shmok with a gun is given power of life and death, to do as he wants, to people". We have just seen a bunch of British squaddies walk free after charges that they brutally and sadistically tortured some Iraqi hotel workers, and battered a man to death. An army investigator who did not want his identity revealed testified on TV that he was told to fix the investigation. An officer who was present when the "interrogations" took place has been promoted.

Not that the British army approves of torture and ill-treatment of civilians, you understand. It just fails to prevent these things taking place. But then as we heard from Deepcut barracks, the Army has failed to protect some of its own young recruits from bullying and unexplained deaths in this country, never mind look after "enemy" civilians overseas. Brutality and criminality goes with training to implement brutal and criminal policies for governments.

It's an occupational disease.

And now for an everyday story from another occupation, the one we started with, in Israel-Palestine. It probably won't make the news on TV. It comes via the International Women's Peace Service.

Early Thursday March 8, 2007 around 12:45 am, a car rushing to the hospital carrying a couple and their six-month-old baby boy who was having trouble breathing, was stopped at Atara checkpoint. The family was heading from their village Kufr 'Ain to the nearest hospital in Ramallah, where the parents hoped to secure their son an oxygen tent, which had helped him recover from difficult respiratory episodes in the past.

The soldiers asked for the IDs of the father, the mother, and the driver. The father explained that his son needed urgent medical care, but the soldiers took almost twenty minutes checking the IDs and then the car. The father realized that his son was dying and begged them to let him go. Around 1:05 am the baby died at the checkpoint. Soldiers shined their light on the child's face, saw that he was dead, and finally let the grieving family pass.

On their way back from the hospital-where the baby was confirmed dead-the same soldier stopped the car again for five more minutes.

The International Women's Peace Service, Haris, Salfit, Palestine.
Tel:- (09)-2516-644
Email:- Website:-

Conscience in Revolt

He'd rather be a prisoner than a guard

SOME soldiers decide they don't want to take part in the dirty work of oppressing other people, even if means facing unpleasant consequances themselves. Yuval Lotem is one of the Israeli reservists who objecting to the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and then to the Occupation of Palestinian territory formed the movement Yesh Gvul - literally we have a border, or, there is a limit.

Reservists and nowadays new conscripts too have spent jail terms for refusing to perform service in the occupied territories. In Yuval's case the Army tried to avoid this by offering him alternative service as a prison guard. But he refused to accept this, realising that his duties would include guarding Palestinian administrative detainees, that is, militants held without trial under laws inherited from the British mandate days.

Yuval Lotem is making a short visit to Britain, and he is due to speak this evening, March 15, to a London meeting arranged by Jews for Justice for Palestinians together with the Jewish Socialists' Group. That's 7.30pm at the Rudolf Steiner House, 35 Park Road NW1, which is situated near Baker Street tube.

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