They didn’t want any photographs taken, he said. And he didn’t want his name used on the report, he insisted as he began to tell us his story. When we first came to have tea with him in his tent, he denied any problems. But his eyes held a story inside them that he gradually chose to reveal. After we had spent time with him, drank tea with him, his words about what had happened to him rose to the surface.
There were never any formal charges. There was never any possibility of a lawyer.
He was visiting in a neighboring village a couple months ago when the helicopter came. He and two of his friends were arrested by the Israeli Army. It was 8 o’clock in the morning. They were questioned, beaten: everyone in the village saw it.
What did they know about workers crossing the border into Israel without using the checkpoint, the soldiers demanded. Nothing, the detained men insisted. They were taken by car to an Army base where they were detained and questioned some more. His friends were released, but he was taken to a police station some distance away, in an Israeli city. There, he was held, interrogated, and beaten some more. Blindfolded, his wrists tied, he was slapped, thrown to the ground, punched and kicked. A foot pressed down on his neck. Eight people were there, he said, Six soldiers beat him. Two policemen watched.
Later that evening, he was returned to the village. Two weeks ago, it happened again. A couple days ago, they came for him a third time and he hid.
It doesn’t matter what his name is. It doesn’t matter where he lives. It doesn’t even matter whether he did know anything about the subject. All people of conscience know this.
“What happened to you was wrong,” said the EA intensely, leaning forward in an attempt to bridge the gap between them. “You should never have been beaten.”
He had to ask us one chilling question: ”If they do this to my children, will you come?”
“You don’t know about these beatings,” a friend told us. “But I know. You can’t imagine.”
We shouldn’t have to.