tes from Jerusalem, but is forbidden to go there, even for these most holy prayers.
A few months ago, when his mother was in Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, Jabarin would sneak over there through the sewer pipe leading out of his town. He would remove his pants to wade through the filthy, knee-deep water, come out on the other side of the sewer, and make his way to the holy city. Now this option is gone, too: Israel has sealed off the pipe and closed the route from the old part of Beit Hanina – where he lives – to the new part – located within the Jerusalem city limits.
Beit Hanina, a Jerusalem suburb, even a somewhat prestigious one, is divided between its old and new sections. The old section is cut off from Jerusalem by Road 443, which separates it from the capital, severing its residents from the city that had been the center of their lives. In the old section of Beit Hanina, as in the adjacent towns of Biddu and Beit Iksa, hundreds of apartments stand empty, abandoned by residents because of the separation wall and apartheid Road 443, which is for Israelis, and Israelis only. The highway to Jerusalem is like another separation barrier. The next time you drive on this road, remember that, because of it, Ali Jabarin cannot pray in the place that is sacred to him.
Aged 35 and the father of two daughters, with twin girls on the way, Jabarin works for a charity organization for orphans in Azzariyeh. This week, at his home in Beit Hanina, he told us the story of what happened to him, lingering over the details of every punch and every curse to which he was subjected.
On the morning of September 25, at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Jabarin called a friend in the Jerusalem section of Beit Hanina and told him he was going to try to get to him so they could go up to the Al Aqsa mosque together, to spend the night in prayer. Jabarin made his way to the Qalandiyah checkpoint, hoping he would be able to make it to Jerusalem. So far, his prayer was answered. He says there was a crowd of hundreds of Palestinians who had somehow managed to break through the checkpoint, after the soldiers there lost control, and Jabarin found himself among them. He boarded a Palestinian bus and headed for his friend`s home in Beit Hanina.
A few minutes after he got off the bus, as he was walking to his friend`s house, a Border Police Jeep pulled up alongside him; the driver asked for his ID. Jabarin`s ID card, from the territories, prohibits him from being where he was. A woman passing by called out to the Border Police officer: `What do you want from him?` The officer responded with a hail of curses, and Jabarin said to him: `Speak more politely. You`re speaking to a human being.` That is when the beatings and abuse began: Border Police officers don`t like to be scolded about their manners, especially by a Palestinian.
After he refused to get into the Jeep as long as they were speaking rudely to him, Jabarin was physically forced into the vehicle and taken to a Border Police facility in Atarot. He was led down a few steps to a large space where about 70 Palestinian detainees were being held. Some, like him, had been trying to get to the prayer service.
It was during the days of the Ramadan fast, and the prisoners hadn`t had anything to eat or drink since the night before. There were some children and old people among them, too. A security camera was pointed at them the entire time. One of the Border Police officers who was guarding them cursed constantly: `We`ll screw your mother, we`ll screw your sisters, we`ll screw all of you,` and so on. When Jabarin quotes the curses, he lowers his voice, embarrassed.
At some point, the prisoners decided to ignore the curses, and one of them began reading aloud from a Koran he had with him. The Border Police officer ordered him to be quiet. He kept going anyway. The cursing and reading went on for about three hours, until about two in the afternoon. Then a new Border Police officer came, one who spoke fluent Arabic, and he also began cursing the prisoners, in Arabic this time. He directed most of his curses at the fellow who was continuing to read verses from the Koran. Jabarin again couldn`t keep silent, and he stood up and said something to this Border Police officer about his cursing. The officer came over to him; Jabarin thought he wanted to speak to him. Jabarin says he wanted to tell him that there were children and old people in this place and he ought not to be cursing them. But instead of words, punches and kicks began flying at him. The punches were aimed at Jabarin`s head, the kicks at his stomach.
Jabarin got dizzy from the blows that landed on his face and ears, and he soon fell to the floor, dazed. He could feel that he was foaming at the mouth. When he talks about it now, many days after the incident, he looks very upset. It wasn`t just the blows and the curses that hurt him; it was also the fact that it was all done in front of dozens of other prisoners, including some children and teenagers. It was a blow to his dignity as well. After about 10 minutes, he tried to get to his feet but was unable to. He felt dizzy and nauseous, like he needed to throw up. With his last remaining strength, he tottered up the steps and asked the Border Police officers who were there to call him an ambulance and the police. In addition to medical treatment, Jabarin wanted to file a complaint about the beating.
His request went unanswered, and he was ordered to go back down to the detention room. He says he felt his ears exploding with pain. One of the Border Police officers asked who beat him up, adding that, whoever it was, he hadn`t beaten him enough: `He should have killed you.` A man in civilian clothes, armed with a pistol, arrived in the meantime and took Jabarin into his office. Jabarin says he told him that the detainees shouldn`t be spoken to in such a crude way, especially not during the fast. He also asked to know the name of the officer who beat him, but the man in civilian clothes wouldn`t give him the name, or his own name either. Jabarin was returned to the detention room, after being promised that an ambulance would come.
Instead of an ambulance, a man in a Border Police uniform who said he was a doctor arrived. Jabarin asked to see his medical license and was refused. The officer who beat him said, `You annoyed me, and my problem is that I beat you up in front of the camera.` Jabarin replied that he didn`t need a camera, he had 70 witnesses. The Border Police officer asked the detainees if any had seen the beating and were willing to testify, but no one stood up. Jabarin asked who of the young people knew how to read Hebrew, and when someone got up, he asked him to read the name of the officer who had beaten him, which was written in Hebrew on his name tag. Raad Malahala, `or something like that,` was the name. Jabarin says that he was shoved and hit some more whenever he asked for an ambulance. `Don`t tell me you`ve never been beat up before,` the officer who beat him said in surprise.
At around 6:30 P.M., the order came to release the detainees. They were commanded to walk single file, escorted by a Border Police officer, toward the Qalandiyah checkpoint. By the time they were released, more and more illegals had been apprehended, including women and children. At the peak, there were about 100 detainees there, by Jabarin`s estimate. He refused at first to leave on foot and continued asking for an ambulance, but his request was denied. He used his cell phone to call his cousin, Karim Jubran, a researcher for B`tselem (a human rights group) in the Jerusalem area, and told him what was going on. Not long before, when it came time to break the fast, one of the detainees had called out `Allahu Akbar` to mark the end of the fast, and the Border Police officers beat him up, too, according to Jabarin.
Finally, they headed out on foot toward the checkpoint. Jabarin, who could barely stand, trailed behind and was prodded on by a Border Police officer. Eventually, he was lifted onto a Border Police vehicle and driven the rest of the way to the checkpoint. Jabarin`s friend, an activist in the Al-Haq human rights organization, picked him up from the checkpoint in his car and took him straight to the Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Ramallah. There he was diagnosed with torn eardrums from the beatings. B`tselem recorded Jabarin`s testimony and is soon planning to lodge a complaint with the Israel Police investigations department.
? ? ?
A Border Police spokesman responded this week: `We are not aware of such an incident. When the complaint is received, it will be investigated by the commander of the `Jerusalem envelope` district. At the same time, we shall submit a complaint to the Police Investigations Department within the framework of the zero tolerance policy for the unauthorized use of force. But first, they will check whether or not the incident actually occurred.`