Monday, July 10, 2006

Ynet: "Look who's been kidnapped"

Ynet: "Look who's been kidnapped"
July 5th, 2006

Hundreds of Palestinian 'suspects' have been kidnapped from theirhomes and will never stand trialby Israeli reservist Arik Diamant, Yedioth AhronothIt's the wee hours of the morning, still dark outside. A guerillaforce comes out of nowhere to kidnap a soldier. After hours of carefulmovement, the force reaches its target, and the ambush is on! Inseconds, the soldier finds himself looking down the barrel of a rifle.A smash in the face with the butt of the gun and the soldier falls tothe ground, bleeding. The kidnappers pick him up, quickly tie his handsand blindfold him, and disappear into the night.

This might be the end of the kidnapping, but the nightmare has justbegun. The soldier's mother collapses, his father prays. Hiscommanding officers promise to do everything they can to get him back, his comrades swear revenge. An entire nation is up-in-arms, writing inpain and worry. Nobody knows how the soldier is: Is he hurt? Do his captors give himeven a minimum of human decency, or are they torturing him to death bytrampling his honor? The worst sort of suffering is not knowing. Will he come home? And if so, when? And in what condition? Can anyone remainapathetic in the light of such drama?

Israeli terror

This description, you'll be surprised to know, has nothing to do withthe kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. It is the story of an arrest I carriedout as an IDF soldier, in the Nablus casbah, about 10 years ago. The"soldier" was a 17-year-old boy, and we kidnapped him because heknew "someone" who had done "something."

We brought him tied up, with a burlap sac over his head, to a Shin Betinterrogation center known as "Scream Hill" (at the time we thoughtit was funny). There, the prisoner was beaten, violently shaken andsleep deprived for weeks or months. Who knows.No one wrote about it in the paper. European diplomats were not calledto help him. After all, there was nothing out of the ordinary about thekidnapping of this Palestinian kid. Over the 40 years of occupation wehave kidnapped thousands of people, exactly like Gilad Shalit was captured: Threatened by a gun, beaten mercilessly, with no judge or jury, or witnesses, and without providing the family with any information about the captive.When the Palestinians do this, we call it "terror." When we do it,we work overtime to whitewash the atrocity.


Some people will say: The IDF doesn't "just" kidnap. These peopleare "suspects." There is no more perverse lie than this. In all theyears I served, I reached one simple conclusion: What makes a"suspect"? Who, exactly suspects him, and of what?Who has the right to sentence a 17-year-old to kidnapping, torture andpossible death? A 26-year-old Shin Bet interrogator? A 46-year-old one?Do these people have any higher education, apart from the ability tointerrogate? What are his considerations?

I all these "suspects"are so guilty, why not bring them to trial?Anyone who believes that despite the lack of transparency, the IDF andShin Bet to their best to minimize violations of human rights isnaïve, if not brainwashed. One need only read the testimonies ofsoldiers who have carried out administrative detentions to be convincedof the depth of the immorality of our actions in the territories.To this very day, there are hundreds of prisoners rotting in Shin Betprisons and dungeons, people who have never been -and never will be- tried. And Israelis are silently resolved to this phenomenon.

Israeli responsibilityThe day Gilad Shalit was kidnapped I rode in a taxi. The driver told mewe must go into Gaza, start shooting people one-by-one, until someonebreaks and returns the hostage. It isn't clear that such an operationwould bring Gilad back alive.Instead of getting dragged into terrorist responses... we shouldrelease some of the soldiers and civilians we have kidnapped. This isappropriate, right, and could bring about an air of reconciliation inthe territories. Hell, if this is what will bring Gilad home safe-and-sound, we have aresponsibility to him to do it.

Arik Diamant is an IDF reservist and the head of the Courage to Refuseorganization


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