Movement and Access?

Nobody can write this like Haaretz’s Gideon Levy.

In his latest article, Blaming the Victim, he explains what happened to a man who had to carry his new washing machine home on his head, because his home is in a closed area of Hebron:

“Ghassam Burqan’s wife was tired of doing all the laundry by hand. With five children at home, the couple decided to buy a washing machine. Now, says Burqan with a bitter smile, had he known what buying a washing machine would get him into, he would have passed on this particular luxury, and his wife could have gone on doing all the laundry by hand forever. Because of that washing machine, Burqan is now holding a plastic bag containing his bloodstained clothes, the result of the night of terror he says he was subjected to after some soldiers, and Border Police officers especially, attacked and abused him for an entire night, while he was bound, blindfolded and bleeding from a blow to the head from a rifle butt … Meanwhile, the upshot is not what one might expect: An indictment was issued against Burqan for assaulting Border Police officers. They also tried to accuse him of attempting to steal their weapons, but this charge was immediately rejected by the judges in the military court. Get the picture? Burqan tried to assault the Border Police officers, with a washing machine on his head, and to steal their weapons while he was at it. And so the victim became the accused. Still, even the military judges had their doubts about the prosecution’s version of events, and the military court, in two different forums, in an exceedingly rare move, decided to release on bail a person accused of assaulting our forces. The trial will begin next month. Not of the Border Police officers – of Burqan. Burqan, 31, is a marble cutter who lives with his family in Hebron’s Old City, which is under the control of the IDF and the settlers. No Palestinian vehicle is permitted to enter, which is why he had to carry the new washing machine home on his head …

On Friday, March 7, the family was visiting the grandparents. In the afternoon, they drove to nearby Beit Awa to buy a new washing machine; prices are lower there. They looked around, chose one and paid for it, loaded the washing machine onto the car and returned to the grandparents’ house. At around 8.30 P.M., after dinner, they prepared to return to their home, not far away, just past the IDF checkpoint that blocks the passage of Palestinian vehicles. Burqan hefted the cardboard box with the washing machine onto his head and the whole family – father, mother and five children (ranging in age from 1 to 12), along with Burqan’s brother, headed out. Tomorrow they would put the first load in the machine.

Six jeeps were parked by the concrete blocks next to the checkpoint, some from the IDF and some from the Border Police.

‘What do you have there on your head?’ the Border Police officer, a Druze apparently, asked in Arabic. ‘A washing machine’,” Burqan replied. ‘I want to check’, said the officer. ‘What is there to check? It’s a new washing machine, still in the package’, said Burqan. The officer (according to Burqan): ‘Then I’ll open it and wreck it’. N ow Burqan was afraid of what might happen to the washing machine, which the family had spent months saving for … The court would find that at most, he struck the Border Police officer on the hand. But other forces immediately poured out of the parked jeeps and started beating the two brothers with clubs and rifle butts, even after they were sprawled on the ground. According to the court hearings, which we will get to shortly, several army officers were present, including a company commander, but no one bothered to collect their testimony. Soon the two brothers had their hands bound behind their backs, and one had a rifle pushed against his throat and his neck stepped on…” and so on…

This Gideon Levy article can be read in full on Haaretz’s website here .