Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Israeli Officials Molest Children at Checkpoints

Expand Messages
  • World View
    Humiliation and Child Abuse at Israeli Checkpoints Strip-Searching Children By ALISON WEIR March 15, 2007 http://www.counterpunch.org/weir03152007.html Israeli
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4 2:30 PM
      Humiliation and Child Abuse at Israeli Checkpoints
      Strip-Searching Children
      March 15, 2007

      Israeli officials have been regularly strip-searching children for
      decades, some of them American citizens.

      While organizations that focus on Israel-Palestine have long been
      aware that Israeli border officials regularly strip search men and
      women, If Americans Knew appears to be the first organization that has
      specifically investigated the policy of strip searching women. In the
      course of its investigation, If Americans Knew was astonished to learn
      that Israeli officials have also been strip searching young girls as
      young as seven and below.

      According to interviews with women in the United States, Israel, the
      West Bank and Gaza, Israeli border officials periodically force
      Christian and Muslim females of all ages to remove their clothing and
      submit to searches. In some cases the children are then "felt" by
      Israeli officials.

      Sometimes mothers and children are strip-searched together, at other
      times little girls are taken from their parents and strip-searched
      alone. Women are required to remove sanitary napkins, sometimes with
      small daughters at their side. Sometimes women are strip searched in
      the presence of their young sons.

      All report deep feelings of humiliation. Many describe weeping at the
      degradation they felt.

      "I remember crying and pleading with my mother," Gaza journalist Laila
      El-Haddad recalls of an experience when she was 12-years-old, hoping
      that her mother could convince the Israeli official to allow her to
      keep her undershirt on. But parents are unable to shield their
      children, El-Haddad and others report.

      "They had machine guns," El-Haddad explains. "We just had to submit."
      El-Haddad, who holds a Masters degree in Public Policy from Harvard's
      Kennedy School of Government, believes that the intention of the strip
      searches is to humiliate Palestinians so that they won't return to

      Oregon attorney Hala Gores remembers being strip-searched at the age
      of 10. Her family, Palestinian Christians from Nazareth, were leaving
      Israel because of Israeli discrimination against Christians. Gores has
      never returned to her family's ancestral home in Nazareth, she says,
      in part because she does not want to repeat the experience of having
      no control over what is done to her.

      The Israeli policy appears to target only Christian and Muslim
      children, and is equally applied to those with Israeli citizenship and
      citizenship in other countries, including native-born Americans. There
      are no reports of Jewish children being strip-searched.

      New Jersey stand-up comedian Maysoon Zayid describes being
      strip-searched at Ben Gurion Airport when she was "seven, eight, nine
      years old" on family trips to visit her parents' original home in
      Palestine. On her most recent trip in July 2006, Maysoon, an American
      citizen, had her sanitary pad taken by officials in Ben Gurion
      Airport. When the search was completed, she says, the Israeli official
      in charge, Inbal Sharon, then refused to return her pad or allow her
      to get another.

      Zayid, who has cerebral palsy and was sitting in a wheelchair, was
      then forced to bleed publicly for hours while she waited for her flight.

      Zayid, a former class president and yearbook editor at New Jersey's
      Cliffside Park High School known for her irreverent comedy routines
      and strong personality, describes sobbing uncontrollably. "No one
      spoke up," she remembers. "There were several women, including the
      woman who was pushing my wheelchair, none of whom said a word."

      When she boarded her flight, Zayid recalls, "The flight attendants
      looked at me in disgust." She told them what had happened, and the
      attendants then gave her some of their own clothing to use.

      In addition to taking her sanitary napkin, Israeli officials also
      confiscated medication that Zayid is required to take when flying. As
      a result, she vomited repeatedly throughout the 12-hour flight.

      Zayid, who founded a program for newly disabled Palestinian youths ­
      many of them permanently disabled from attacks by Israeli forces ­ was
      so depressed by her treatment that she determined never to return.
      "But that's what they want," she says, "They want us to get to the
      point where we don't go back." She says that she is already planning
      to return to her volunteer work in the West Bank.

      Israeli practices vary and seem to be applied randomly, from elderly
      women to small children. In some instances women are taken into a room
      alone and are left sitting naked for hours. At other times they are
      strip-searched in groups, their clothes thrown in a pile. When they
      are finally allowed to get dressed, they describe having to rummage
      through the heap of clothing, naked and barefoot, to find their own

      Jewish Holocaust Survivor

      While these policies largely target Palestinian and
      Palestinian-American women and children, some non-Palestinian
      Americans also report being subjected to strip searches by Israeli

      St. Louis resident Hedy Epstein, whose parents and extended family
      perished in Nazi camps, and whose story is featured in the Academy
      Award winning documentary "Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the
      Kindertransport," reports being strip searched three years ago
      following her participation in nonviolent protests in the West Bank.
      Epstein, who was 79 at the time, describes being forced to bend over
      for an Israeli official to search her internally.

      The strip searches appear to be illegal under numerous statutes. The
      Geneva Conventions, to which Israel is a signatory, prohibit:
      "Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and
      degrading treatment" and specifically emphasize: "Women shall be
      especially protected against any attack on their honour"

      Article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states: "No
      child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with
      his or her privacy"

      In the US, such policies would appear to violate child abuse statutes.
      The state of Utah, for example, defines Child Abuse as: "Any form of
      cruelty to a child's physical, moral or mental well-being." The
      Encarta Encyclopedia defines child abuse as "Intentional acts that
      result in physical or emotional harm to children."

      While the If Americans Knew investigation focused on practices
      concerning women, many interviewees reported frequent random
      strip-searching of males as well; including American citizens,
      children, and the elderly.

      While the practice is widely applied, many people find it too
      humiliating to speak of. One 68-year-old Christian businessman, who
      had been stripped naked at Ben Gurion airport in 2006 before being
      allowed to board his flight to return home, had never revealed his
      experience to his family until he learned of the If Americans Knew
      investigation. He then explained to his daughter why he had previously
      told her that he might never return to his original home, now in the
      state of Israel.

      Christians, a thriving community that made up approximately 15 percent
      of Palestine's population before Zionist immigration and the creation
      of Israel (Muslims were 80 percent and Jews 5 percent), have now
      dwindled under Israeli occupation to approximately two percent of the
      total population.

      Israeli spokespeople and sympathizers have bristled in recent months
      at the title of a book by former President Jimmy Carter, "Palestine
      Peace Not Apartheid." In reply, Carter has emphasized that the Israeli
      "apartheid" he is describing is limited to the West Bank and Gaza.
      Many analysts have disagreed with Carter, providing evidence of
      pervasive discrimination within Israel itself. The If Americans Knew
      finding that Israel has been routinely strip-searching non-Jewish
      citizens of Israel would also indicate a wider policy of Israeli

      Since American taxpayers give Israel over $8 million per day, the
      Council for the National Interest, a Washington DC-based lobbying
      organization, is organizing a campaign to call on Congress to demand
      that Israel end these policies.

      "We are extremely upset to learn that Israel is using American tax
      money in ways that degrade and humiliate women and children," says CNI
      President Eugene Bird. "We call on all Americans to help us on this

      The organization urges people to begin contacting their Congressional
      representatives immediately, and to disseminate the video report by If
      Americans Knew as widely as possible.

      Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew.
      She can be reached at: alisonweir @ yahoo.com



      To subscribe to this group, send an email to:


      Need some good karma? Appreciate the service?
      Please consider donating to WVNS today.
      Email ummyakoub@... for instructions.

      To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.