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Stripping Palestinians has Become Common Practice: Eyewitness Accounts - Palestine Chronicle

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  • Zafar Khan
    Tuesday, November 26 2002 Stripping Palestinians has Become Common Practice: Eyewitness Accounts http://www.fpp.co.uk/online/02/11/PalestineChron281102.html
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2002
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      Tuesday, November 26 2002
      Stripping Palestinians has Become Common Practice:
      Eyewitness Accounts

      http://www.fpp.co.uk/online/02/11/PalestineChron281102.html

      "They forced Yasser to take off all his clothes
      including his underwear?they ordered him to walk like
      a dog and then he burst into tears .."
      By Suzanne Russ

      OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PC) - On Monday, November 25,
      Israeli soldiers ordered a young resident of the town
      of Nablus to strip completely naked in the street,
      according to Palestinian witnesses.

      Yasser Sharar, 25, was caught violating the curfew in
      Nablus and was stopped by Israeli soldiers at
      gunpoint, who immediately ordered him to remove his
      clothes.

      In an interview with Reuters, a witness explained,
      "They forced Yasser to take off all his clothes
      including his underwear?they ordered him to walk like
      a dog and then he burst into tears,"

      The eyewitness who watched the scene from a few meters
      away continued, "He kept crying and was in a very
      stressful situation?many residents, including women
      watched him and he was very embarrassed."

      Israeli soldiers refuted the claim, saying that they
      merely asked him to lift his shirt, but he voluntarily
      removed all his clothing to get media attention. The
      Reuters report also claimed that this is the first
      time Israeli soldiers have ordered Palestinians to
      completely strip naked publicly in a security
      operation.

      However, recent interviews conducted by the Palestine
      Chronicle with scores of residents of the Jenin
      refugee camp contradicted the Reuters claim. Dozens of
      residents of the refugee camp claimed that during the
      Israeli invasion of April, 2002, it was a common
      practice to force residents to strip naked as a form
      of humiliation, or as the Israelis say, a "security
      operation."

      Na'el Ammar, 43, is a resident of the Jenin refugee
      camp and explains how Israeli soldiers arrested and
      detained scores of men from the refugee camp, and
      forced many to strip naked, " We were mostly older
      people, sick and wounded. We had nine handicapped
      people with us, three were from the same family, sons
      of Abu Ibrahim. Some of us were too old, they were
      senile. When they told them "go left" they would go
      right, but they stripped them naked anyway. I tried to
      help them as much as I could. I was the only one who
      spoke Hebrew?Close to us was a group of young men.
      They were handcuffed, naked and lying on their
      stomachs. The Israeli tanks would pass by them so
      fast, only forty centimeters away from their heads."

      Nawal Hawashin, a mother of eight, told Palestine
      Chronicle reporters that they threatened her 18 year
      old son with death if he did not follow their orders
      to strip naked, "They ordered my son and other young
      men to take off all their clothes and throw them on
      the ground. The soldiers warned that if the boys made
      any move, they would be shot. Near the Sahah, there
      was a body of a man with a white beard. He was lying
      dead on the ground, and tanks were rolling right over
      him. I couldn't recognize him. My son Mohammed said,
      "Mother, I am too ashamed to take my clothes off in
      front of women." I told him, 'Son, this is our fate."

      Jamal Hussein has a family of thirteen. A man who
      worked as a cheap laborer in Israel before the
      invasion of Jenin described in detail how terrified
      Jenin residents were gathered in the center of the
      camp and forced to undress, "Soldiers stationed on the
      top of a nearby house started throwing dirt on us.. We
      remained 15 men and boys. Half an hour later a tank
      came and stood near us. They pointed the canon at us.
      And they spent over an hour terrifying us that way.
      The commander of that unit spoke in Arabic to us, "Go
      to Saha". While we were on our way, we kept reading
      Koran. We felt that they were going to execute us.
      Once we arrived there, we found a large number of men,
      forced to strip completely naked. There was a big pile
      of clothes. Soldiers started shooting right above our
      heads, they would call on us, one by one. Once they
      pointed at you, you would have to pull your pants down
      and your shirt up, when it was my turn, as I stood up,
      I noticed the body of a man, Jamal Sabbagh. It was
      some sort of a test. If you pass, you are arrested and
      if you don't, they'll shoot and kill you."

      According to Jenin residents, Israeli forces were not
      discriminatory in their aggression, young men, old and
      disabled were targeted. 45-year old Um Siri lamented
      how her son was not only forced to strip naked, but
      how he was later used as a human shield, "Then they
      took my son, they had him strip naked, and they also
      started firing between his legs to terrorize him."

      Israeli soldiers arrested and detained Um Siri's son
      for days, during this time, she did not know if he was
      dead or alive. Finally she found him in a rescue
      shelter where he recounted how he was treated, "When I
      also found my son, he told me that the soldiers took
      him to a field near the camp with many other young
      men, he told me that the soldiers had them walk in
      front of the tanks, as they were looking for
      fighters."

      The vulnerable and elderly, according to residents,
      were treated just as mercilessly. Um Siri recounted
      how the women of Jenin tried to come to the aid of
      some men, forced to stand naked publicly, in the
      pouring rain, "We passed by the sons of Sheikh Abdel
      Salam. They were standing there in the rain, after the
      Israelis had them strip completely naked. There was a
      woman who came with us. She took her headscarf and
      tore it to several pieces and gave it to the young men
      to cover themselves. A very thin old man approached
      while screaming, 'My sons, my money, for God's sake,
      they took everything!' The Israelis had him strip
      naked like the day he was born. Once the women saw
      that, they started pulling their hair, hitting their
      heads, and wailing. He has all of his life's savings
      with him, because he was worried that he might lose it
      in the invasion, but when the Israelis stripped him
      naked, they found the money and took it."

      Other residents described how young men were stripped
      naked and then shot. Yusuf Shalabi, a young man from
      the camp explained how the Israeli soldiers denied
      medical treatment to the wounded, "?I remember this
      nightmare very well. It is very difficult to talk
      about it. I remember them stripping the people naked,
      they would handcuff them and blindfold them. I
      remember seeing two wounded men, one was wounded in
      the shoulder and the other in the leg. They were
      screaming in pain and the soldiers would not allow
      them to be treated.

      The Israeli army, who according to Amnesty
      International committed war crimes in Jenin in April
      of 2002, targeted medical workers as well. They also
      forced the women to remove their head scarves. Seham
      Shalabi, a young woman who works in a textile factory
      in Jenin recounted her memories of those days last
      April, "An army jeep came and started circling the
      house, then it opened fire at us. Why would they open
      fire at us? Then they came and they searched us, and
      had us walk two by two, out of the camp. Just as we
      began moving, we saw another group of tanks and
      bulldozers. We found some doctors and medical workers,
      forced strip naked, handcuffed. Then they put them in
      trucks and took them to the Salem detention center.
      The Israelis started shouting and ordering us to take
      off our head scarves.

      Humiliation of medial workers was not only reported by
      the residents of Jenin, but these events were also
      narrated by the medical workers themselves. Mohammed
      Rafi' the director of the Red Crescent Society's youth
      development programs in Jenin recounted how the
      Israelis held medical workers hostage in the Jenin
      hospital for days, and then forced them to strip naked
      as well. "They did not allow anyone in or out. If one
      of us wanted to leave to the hospital across the
      street, it would take two hours of telephone calls and
      deliberation. Ambulance drivers would be forced to
      wait for two hours with people bleeding inside before
      they were allowed entry to the hospital, they would
      take our volunteers or drivers, have them stripped
      naked, and interrogated and insulted.

      Of the scores upon scores of interviews conducted by
      Palestine Chronicle reporters in the Jenin refugee
      camp, that act of forcing civilians to strip naked was
      reported time and again. The Israeli army has defended
      the action, saying that such tactics are necessary to
      assure that Palestinians are not carrying explosives.

      Many of the quotes within this article will be
      included the book titled Searching Jenin, edited by
      Ramzy Baroud, Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine
      Chronicle. Searching Jenin will be available in
      bookstores in December 2002.

      Redistributed via Press International News Agency
      (PINA).



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