Sunday 18 January 2015

“You make us look like beasts” – Israeli soldier

Bedroom ransacked in IDF raid on Palestinian home
We were taken to meet an independent media journalist, Rami Al-Ariya, who monitors actions of Israelis and publishes on and He told us he was the only journalist working in the area, covering ours and surrounding villages. The previous night he had heard that Israeli soldiers were attacking houses and arresting residents, so went with his wife to film incidents that he witnessed. The soldiers usually come at night, he said, because there is no media, no audience, and it is therefore safe for them to act as they please. He always takes his wife with him as cover – without someone filming him the Israelis will shoot him, since he is known to them as someone who records and publishes photographic and video evidence of abuses. He went to a house where there was a commotion and entered via a side entrance where he found Israeli soldiers beating a man and ransacking the place. He started to take photographs, to which the soldiers responded by attacking him, taking his and his wife’s cameras and IDs, and arresting them. A soldier remarked at him “you never learn”, referencing previous incidences in which that soldier had arrested him and a military court case he has to attend on 15th March for one such incident. He agreed not to cover them anymore, and was given his belongings and let go. Photographs he took evidencing abuses that took place in the house – ransacked room and blood on the floor from the beaten man – can be seen here. The man they beat was in the soldiers’ vehicle with his hands tied, to be taken away for some form of ‘processing’.

Blood on floor, following beating of Palestinian
He went on to tell us about previous events. He had been arrested 6 months previously for taking photographs while soldiers were arresting a small child – it is for this that he must attend a military court. They took him and the child and searched him for the memory card, which he had hidden well enough to save. He told of how he had been shot three times in the back and once in the leg with rubber-cased steel bullets; the latter left his entire leg blue and he was incapable of walking on it for 2 months. He told of how they had used him as a human shield, holding him in front of them while walking towards people throwing stones at them – without, of course, the protective clothing that prevented stones from inflicting injuries upon them.

“No one cares about any of the harmful things they do to us – Israelis, they don’t care.”

He showed us videos of a number of incidents, one of which showed an ambulance transporting a man with a bullet wound to the head being stopped by the IDF and diverted to a military base/police station. Another particularly harrowing video showed an incident last year in which he was filming Israeli attacks on Bedouin houses. A boy aged 13 had been shot in the back of the head with a teargas canister and in the leg with a rubber-cased steel bullet while running away, and then arrested – Rami was certain the boy had not been involved in any actions against the occupation that day. Rami caught the Israeli soldiers holding the injured boy in a chokehold and posing while other soldiers took photographs. At one point a soldier held a Molotov cocktail in front of the boy in the photograph, and the boy shouted something before being choked into silence, which was translated to us as “it’s not mine!”. Rami’s publication of the video caused problems for the Israeli military – firstly, because the boy had an Israeli ID and passport, and secondly because of the way in which the soldiers took posing photos with him after he had been shot and arrested. “Since then, they shoot me wherever they see me… They said ‘you make us look like beasts!’… I [now] take someone everywhere just to cover me – not anything else – because it is very dangerous”. He told us that it is getting increasingly dangerous for journalists to work in the West Bank.

When we were leaving, we asked Rami if he wanted us to change his name for our blog - he laughed and informed us that he was already targeted and it couldn’t get any more dangerous. He was already an IDF target, and was therefore resigned to continuing his work until the end, come what may.

The videos can be found at the following location:


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