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B'Tselem: Israeli forces abuse Palestinian, force him to say 'Muhammad is a pig'

June 13, 2017 6:16 P.M. (Updated: June 14, 2017 12:52 P.M.)
Israeli soldiers hold a position in a street, east of the West Bank city of Nablus, on October 3, 2015 (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces abused and humiliated a 19-year-old Palestinian for hours when he was detained last month during a march in the village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, while the youth reported that he had feared for his life and was severely degraded by Israeli forces, according to a report released by Israeli rights group B’Tselem on Monday.

Israeli forces detained Baraa Kanan, from the village of Beit Rima, at the same march Israeli forces shot and killed 22-year-old Saba Abu Ubeid and injured at least two others.

Kanan was riding in an ambulance with a relative and fellow demonstrator who had been struck in the head with a stone thrown by another protester during the march when the ambulance was stopped by at least 10 Israeli soldiers.

According to B’Tselem, the soldiers found a slingshot in Kanan’s pocket after searching him, and proceeded to detain him by “bounding his hands behind his pack with plastic cable ties, led him to a spot about 100 meters away near a watchtower, blindfolded him, and put him into a military jeep.”

Some ten minutes later, he was taken out of the jeep and transferred to a room at an unknown location. He was then subjected to beatings and humiliating abuse for seven hours, B’Tselem reported, all while remaining blindfolded.

According to Kanan’s testimony to B’Tselem, during his detention, Israeli forces “hit him in the face and chest, mocked him and spat at him.” He was also made to sit on a chair without a backrest and was not allowed by the soldiers to drop his head, and each time he did out of tiredness, the soldiers screamed at him or kicked his chair.

B’Tselem also reported that when Kanan had asked the soldiers for a drink of water, a soldier shoved a water bottle in his mouth and poured the water until Kanan felt like choking.

When he asked to go to the bathroom, a group of soldiers led him outside to urinate. One of the soldiers then pushed Kanan, forcing him to spray urine on his clothes.

He was then taken back outside, still blindfolded, by a group of soldiers.

“While they led me along, they swore at me and called my mother names,” Kanan recalled to B’Tselem. “One of them tightened the blindfold on my eyes and ordered me to say, ‘I’m friends with the soldiers’. I repeated what he said. Whenever I stopped, he ordered me again to say, ‘I’m friends with the soldiers.'"

“They knocked me down and then picked me up. They beat me and swore at me,” Kanan continued. “They didn’t let up. I was terrified that they were taking me to some lonely spot so that they could murder me and no one would find me.”

Kanan added that soldiers finally stopped, at which point one said to Kanan “You’re a big-time terrorist. I’m going to shoot you.” Kanan said that he heard the soldier load his gun and felt the gun be placed on his head. “I was sure he was going to kill me,” he said.

Kanan said that the soldiers then beat him again, and “covered his legs with earth and then removed it.”

According to B’Tselem, he was also transferred to a tent and made to sit on the floor. The soldiers’ removed his blindfold and “forced him to say ‘Muhammad is pig’ and ‘Muhammad is a dog’, and snipped off bits of his hair with scissors.”

After the soldiers finally returned his identity card and removed his plastic cuffs, they left Kanan in an area unknown to the youth, after Kanan had told the soldiers he did not know how to get back to Nabi Saleh.

“Go on, go home. But there are Jews out there,” the soldier reportedly told Kanan. “If you run into them on your way back, they’ll beat you up even more. But you go to Nabi Saleh and tell them what happened to you.”

Kanan was then forced to hitchhike back to Nabi Saleh.

Kanan’s father, meanwhile, was only allowed a few seconds to speak with his son during Kanan’s detention, and was not informed by the soldiers where he was being held.

When Kanan’s father took him to the hospital in Salfit, he was “diagnosed with injuries to his upper torso, head, back, left knee and upper limbs,” and was kept in the hospital for a day and a half to treat the injuries.

“This abuse did not take place in a vacuum. It is part of a broader context,” B’Tselem concluded in its report. “Over the years, B’Tselem has documented many similar incidents of violence and abuse, which could not have taken place had the abusive soldiers not been aware that they would have the full support of senior military and government officials, and would not be held accountable for their actions.”

Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations also released statements this week condemning Israeli forces' excessive use of force against Palestinians, particularly protesters, which in many cases resulted in death.

One of these was a statement from B’Tselem describing the killing of Saba Abu Ubeid at the same protest in Nabi Saleh, which the group said was an “unlawful, unjustifiable and lethal shooting.”

According to rights group Yesh Din, of 186 criminal investigations into suspected offenses against Palestinians opened by the Israeli army in 2015, just four resulted in indictments.
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