February 14, 2003
HEBRON: "This Time They Meant to Destroy Me."
By Kristin Anderson
Under the dim lighting of the Old City, Kathy and I exchanged weary,
yet joyful glances.
After spending over six hours in the cold rain waiting for a friend who was
beaten and arrested, joy was the last thing we expected to feel. Earlier
in the day, Israeli soldiers stopped our Palestinian friend as she was
nearing the entrance of her house. A female soldier dug through our
friend's purse, took out a freshly picked carnation and dangled it in the
"Look at this rubbish," she began. "You carry rubbish because you are
Soldiers then slapped and hit our friend with their bare hands, kicked her
with their heavy boots, and used their rifle butts to hit her while she was
lying on the ground. They made her to stand against a wall, forced her legs
apart, and beat her. They grabbed her wrists tightly and threatened to
break the bones.
The assault stopped when a commanding officer who knows and respects
our friend, heard her screaming and immediately ordered the soldiers to
cease their attack.
When we reached the Israeli police station where our friend was being held,
she was shaking, crying, and on the verge of unconsciousness. On the phone,
she told us that she was being accused of 'refusal to be searched' and
'attack of a soldier.'
When our friend emerged from the police compound, pain was seeping from her
small body. Referring to a previous times she had been beaten by soldiers,
she said, "Before it was okay, because I was always defending someone. But
this time was different. This time it was me they were after -- me
personally. This time they meant to destroy me."
Today I can speak about joy because they did not destroy my friend. During
the six hours of her fiasco, we had the opportunity to dialogue with
Israeli border police. We responded to their surprise when they discovered
we were waiting for a Palestinian friend by telling them she was a good
woman and we would wait as many hours as necessary in the rain and wind for
her release. An Israeli policeman then gave us respite from the rain in
his patrol booth. We rejoiced over hearing the words spoken to her by
Israeli soldiers seeking her forgiveness.
Kathy and I smiled while we walked along the Old City corridor, both of us
still in a state of shock over the profuse concern expressed by the Israeli
border police commander whom we met near the gate of our friend's house.
Not only did this commander desire to know more about her well being, but
he also encouraged her to file a complaint against the soldiers, including
one of his own, who initiated the assault. Kathy and I smiled because we
shared in the blessing of witnessing love overcome hateful violence.
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