They gave us their testimony, freely, surrounded by their relatives and using a translator, knowing we would tell the world. The two Palestinian girls, one 21, the other 17, were brutalized for no reason on Thanksgiving Day in the southern part of the West Bank..
The young woman, Sausan, was in a cave dwelling with three children when she heard the sounds of machinery and voices. She came out and saw the bulldozers and she quickly got the children out of the cave. She started screaming and ran to get some things out of her house, which she could see was about to be demolished. An Israeli soldier pushed her and told her to stop, but she kept moving. He pulled and dragged her to a place where they sprayed some kind of spray in her eyes and mouth at very close range. She fainted to the ground then.
When she woke up, the soldiers were all around her. They were going to arrest her. When her mother protested, they pushed her mother to the ground, breaking her leg. By now the young woman’s eyes, affected by the spray, hurt so badly that she cried, “Give me water for my eyes.” A soldier put a very little bit of water in her eyes so he could have a friend take a photo of him doing so, but then wouldn’t give her any more. She kept crying, “Give me water!” A relative, a 17-year-old girl named Amal, came with water for her, but the soldiers grabbed her and made her sit down on the ground too. In the process, she spilled the water she had brought, getting a soldier wet. They tied her hands together. The soldiers put both of them into an Army jeep, tying the woman’s hands too and putting a belt around her upper arms as well. She kept crying out for water for her eyes, but the soldier deliberately emptied his water bottle out onto the ground in front of her. They drove them away to another location where they were transferred to a police vehicle, and during that transfer, the girl was intentionally kicked in the stomach.
They were taken to a police station some distance away, where the woman was accused of throwing a stone. The girls were kept there until evening. They were then handcuffed, blindfolded and moved to three different places. Finally they were put in a room where they slept, with hands tied, and blindfolded, until morning. They were kept in this condition until mid afternoon. At that point they were transferred to another prison, arriving around 5 pm. Since their arrest they had not been able to eat or drink anything. They were aware of food being offered, but being blindfolded and with hands tied, they could not eat.
In the new military prison they remained for four days. Here prisoners were allowed to buy and cook food for themselves, so they were able to eat. But they were very cold. After four days, the girls went to court. The younger girl was released for the time being. The older girl was transferred to yet another prison. In this prison the cell was filthy and the small amount of food offered was inedible. She was there for one day. The next day at 7:30 AM she was taken to court. There a soldier testified that she had attacked him not with a stone, but with a big rock. After her court appearance, which lasted about a half hour, she was taken to a holding area until the end of the day, 5:30, before being transferred again to the first prison, where her father paid 5000 skekels bail for her release pending a court date.
This was their testimony to me.
Yesterday was the court hearing for Sausan. She received a plea bargain. She does not need to do any more jail time, but she has a record now in this kangaroo court, in which she is accused of having hit a soldier with a rock, and 3000 shekels of the bail money will be kept by the court. This fine, plus the legal fees, make the cost very steep for this family of impoverished shepherds who have just lost their home. The charges against the youngest were not pursued by the court, presumably because a little water sprinkled by accident on a soldier can hardly be considered a crime…….
……. even in this sorry excuse for a justice system, where people are punished with pepper spray and arbitrary arrest, and held without a court hearing, and interrogated without legal counsel, and kicked and blindfolded, and kept restrained without food and water, and not allowed contact with relatives, all because, when the Israeli military machine bulldozes their homes without warning, they have the audacity to object.