Bumpy Ride: IDF’s Petty Intimidation Tactics

January 7, 2012 West Bank

An apprehensive traveler in the West Bank would be worried about getting shot, blown up or hit by a rock thrown through the windshield. Not being apprehensive, I don’t tend to fret about those scenarios, but an experience last Friday has put something new on the top of my list fo survival concerns: getting a ticket for not wearing a seat belt.

At the time the IDF handed out the ticket, I just happened to be riding in a car driven by Hagit Ofran, of Peace Now, and we just coincidentally were heading for a protest in the village of Kafr ad-Dik. As we approached the entrance to the village, several IDF and border police vehicles blocked our way, and the soldiers asked us to pull over. The charge would be failure to wear seat belts. Hagit was the driver and was actually wearing her belt, but the other three people in the car weren’t (the passengers including camera man Michael Lew, a Peace Now staffer, and me).

The IDF took our IDs and told us to wait. The actual ticket issuing authority, a police man of some kind, was not on site, and we needed to wait until they came. It was an obvious intimidation tactic. We waited for about half an hour, 45 minutes for the traffic cop arrived. Hagit ended up with a 250 shekel fine.

We continued onto the demonstration. Kfar ad-Dik is just getting staring with a weekly protest, trying to follow the example of Bil’in, Ni’lin, Nabi Saleh and others. Hagit told me that she generally does not go to these demonstrations — the protests are clashes with the Israeli army, and Peace Now is not against the Israeli Army. Hagit’s position is that Peace Now is actually strongly pro-Israel, and that it is the settlements that are not truly in Israel’s best interests.

The protest had already started by the time we arrived. About a hundred people were skirmishing against some soldiers who had taken up a position of the highway. There was rock throwing and the IDF was firing tear gas and firing loudly into the air, supposedly live ammunition. Hagit went with one woman who said that one of the bullets had come through her window.

Earlier in the day, we stopped at Jinsafut, a Palestinian village near Ramat Gilad, a controversial “outpost.” A couple of weeks ago Ramat Gilad was saved from a court-ordered evacuation when the settlers there agreed to move several structures there off of private Palestinian land and onto land that is considered “state land.”

People in Jansafut had called Hagit to tell her that in the process of fulfilling that order, a bulldozer in Ramat Gilad was dumping dirt and rocks from the settlement onto Palestinian land belonging to people in Jinsafut, destroying olive trees in the process.