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Acts Of Kindness By israeli Soldiers

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While in Hebron with ISM, one gets used seeing israeli soldiers, police officers and Border Police officers treating Palestinians with cruelty, sometimes intentional and personal and other times purely bureaucratic.

Soldiers and police keeping hundreds of people in a narrow ramp in the hot sun, yelling at them (this is actually not in Hebron, but the Bethlehem-Jerusalem checkpoint). Soldiers stopping teenagers late at night and holding them up for not carrying ID. Soldiers throwing rocks at kids, and then accusing the kids of attacking them. A young Palestinian man being taken to a settlement and beaten and threatened with rape.

I have been in the West Bank for less than two full weeks, and have seen all these things and more take place.

What is more rare, but what also sometimes happens, is some soldiers who act differently than their counterparts. I see some soldiers smile at kids and play frisbee with them. Others will greet Palestinians by saying "salaam alaikum". I have seen a soldier pick up an older woman's bag for her after she dropped it at a checkpoint. I have had a police officer tell me, when settlers were demonstrating in front of a Palestinian store, that he did not agree with their behaviour.

These are small acts of kindness; proof that the people wearing the uniforms are capable of humanity, and that some of them display it.

It doesn't change the reality of the occupation- the checkpoints that people go through on a regular basis, the arrests and detentions that are inflicted on Palestinians often on trumped up charges or for stupid reasons like not having their IDs on them, the water shortages and long walks uphill for some people but not others, the impunity enjoyed by police and military and settlers who choose to abuse their Palestinian subjects.

Unlike the police and Border Police, the Army soldiers here have little choice. Their options are to either serve in the military, or go to prison... and after being released have problems finding work, and sometimes have members of their families and friends cut ties with them. While some of the soldiers here clearly enjoy humiliating and hurting people and others are "just doing their job", there are others who are only here because they have to be.

There are many soldiers who give up their humanity when putting on their uniforms, and become either sadistic abusers, or obedient tools of the system that is designed to keep an occupied population subservient to their masters. I would argue that every soldier does at least a bit of the second. However, there are some who, despite the uniform they wear and the job they have, attempt to treat the Palestinian people with respect and in that way act differently from their comrades.

Source: http://hungryandthirstyforjustice.blogspot.com/

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