WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Beaten for being

July 2014

Holy Land 2014

Cecily McNeill

One man who knows what it is like to be powerless in the face of Israeli military brutality told of receiving a severe beating in 2003 when Bethlehem was under siege creating great tension, that will stay with him for the rest of his life.

He and his two brothers were asleep upstairs in their house when their father heard a noise and looked outside to see Manger Square crowded with Israeli military.

‘They are barred from being there but they come anyway.’

The street was lined with cars and the soldiers, convinced that a particular car parked in front of the his house, belonged to the family, questioned the man’s father. When he did not give them the answer they seemed to want, they asked who was in the house.

So at three in the morning, some ‘very tall, big soldiers’ entered the bedroom.

‘This was the most frightening moment I have ever experienced. They asked, “how old are you?” – I was around 24 at the time. My younger brother was 19.’

They shut one brother in the bathroom. The younger brother and his mother were locked in the kitchen. They turned off all the lights and began questioning the younger brother. Then they cornered our correspondent and put a gun in his chest. ‘They started beating me. Mum came in and tried to push them away from me.

‘The soldiers told me to get my id (identity card) and some clothes. They had smashed a window to get into the car and they put me inside it. Suddenly the car started to move. My eye was swollen from the beating so I couldn’t see very well. I realised they were towing me towards the checkpoint. The steering wheel was locked and the car was skewed to the left and making a huge noise banging into parked cars. With each collision my face is covered in cuts from the broken glass. There were more than 10 jeeps around me as if they were arresting a big terrorist.’

Finally the car became lodged in a small hole and the towing chain was cut. He found that the car on the edge of a valley, ‘so I got out because I was afraid it would go over the cliff with me inside.

‘The soldier kicked my knee and when I bent over with the pain, he pushed me back into the car. I said to him I would not go into the car and be pushed into the valley to die as a thief. “If you want to kill me, kill me now.” So he gave me my ID and told me to go home.’

He considers himself among the lucky ones because he had no broken bones ‘but many others are not so fortunate.

‘This sort of thing makes people angry so they go to a demonstration and throw stones, it’s a normal reaction.’