At the moment, when I arrived in the Middle East as a correspondent, I could not help noticing that atmosphere of fear and suspicion; it was palpable virtually in every movement, every gesture, every glance. Jews and Palestinians were looking askance at one another even despite the fact that they might live just next door. This behavior produced such an impression as though someone deliberately turned these people into enemies, and they did not even realize it. The semi-peaceful existence could easily grow into an open fight especially considering the possibility of a terrorist attack that could occur almost every minute. Every person who has ever been a witness to it would tell that this war left indelible scars in the hearts of people and that violence and aggression is not the best remedy for this disease. Later, I understood that that the case was even worse.
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On the very first day of my mission, I was given a task that could potentially prove dangerous or even perilous. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) was planning to conduct a military raid in the house of Abu Dis, the man, who was believed to store weapons. At first, I intended to refuse as such operations were mostly the province of highly qualified combatants but not of a journalist. Yet, later, I agreed to participate as every correspondent has to possess first-hand information in order to make his own judgment.
Such raids are often associated with life and health risks therefore the members of IDF had to take every necessary precaution. Still, the techniques, which they employed, appeared rather extreme because while capturing Abu Dis house they could easily injure innocent people, who might have nothing to do with terrorism. But, judging from their actions, these sentiments were of little interest to them. The door was knocked down and the alleged criminal was dragged outside. I have used the word “criminal”, simply because Abu Dis was treated as though he had already committed many atrocious acts. He was constantly pushed forward and eventually brought down on his knees.
Being threatened by rifles and humiliated, this man seemed to regard the policemen with animosity and hostility, and to some extent, this was quite understandable because, from the very outset, officers viewed him as guilty. It was evident that he would not accept any excuse for the brutalities inflicted upon him and no individual would do that. In any civilized society, these methods are strictly prohibited yet, people who lived nearby took it for granted or at least pretended to do so. Unfortunately, the only possible outcome will be further escalation of violence and this was the most disturbing thing.
In their turn, IDF forces tried to justify their rudeness and even direct violation of human rights by the fact that these measures were an inseparable part of similar operations for very often suspects really stored ammunition and usually struck back, killing many policemen, so some liberties had been sacrificed for the sake of security (Finkelstein, 2004, p 24). Apart from that, they pointed out that in these conditions it was hardly possible to draw a distinct line between truth and falsity; in this atmosphere of enmity and apprehension practically no one could be fully acquitted and even the most unreliable dada had to be checked. This was just one side of the argument and I was determined to speak with Abu Dis, who was initially reluctant to talk to me; in his opinion, I was clearly taking sides with Israeli soldiers, and I could not dissuade him from this belief.
This person was firmly convinced that Jews were occupants in this land and that they were “bullying” the Arabian population. I did not want to enter into a historical dispute with Abu Dis even though some of his convictions were based solely on his prejudices. Still, I had to admit that in some way IDF resembled occupants. This was an arrest without any search warrant and legislation of many Western countries would have condemned this policy, particularly, when it is aimed against civilians. For me, the presumption of innocence has always been the cornerstone for every community but it turned out that even this principle could easily be evaded.
Subsequently, this gives rise only to hatred and continuous war. Even collaboration of Israeli and Palestinian authorities will be of no avail if the rights of a human being are not made the topmost priority.
What struck me most was the unwillingness of both sides to make any compromises. Naturally, I cannot claim that I know any way of distinguishing truth from deceit. However, the raid on Abu Dis house will only enhance his aversion to Israelis and their government. By trying to eradicate terrorism, IDF may occasionally incite hatred and even more Arabian people would be ready to sacrifice their lives just to revenge on them. It reminds a viscous or closed circle, which is very difficult to break unless Israelis and Jews acknowledge that this land has always been shared by both nations and that no one should view it solely as one’s own (Gelvin, 2005, p. 10).
- Gelvin. J (2005). The Israel-Palestine conflict: one hundred years of war. Cambridge University Press.
- Tessler. M (1994). A History of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Indiana University Press.
- Finkelstein. N (2003). Image and reality of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Verso.
- Serious Games Interactive Aps (2007). Global Conflicts: Palestine. Topic Overview. Serious Games Interactive Aps.