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A CASE WHEN HAARETZ DID ADMIT THEY HAD BEEN WRONG

On the 24th July 2003 Ha'aretz published a typical horror story about IDF behaviour entitled "Anyone who walked by, kicked"  On the 25th  Haaretz had to admit it was totally wrong and published a correction in which the IDF proves that Haaretz's story was completely false.     Unfortunately Haaretz's allegations are eagerly repeated in foreign media and on the web, while the corrections - if issued at all - are ignored or too late to undo the damage to Israel's image.

The correction and the original articles are copied below.  The title of the correction was Ha'aretz July 25, 2003
Checkpoint horror story false
By Amira Hass
Beaten Palestinian says it was PA security forces, not IDF   If you read the articles you'll notice how cautious Haaretz's language is in the correction and how outgoing and uninhabited it had been in the accusations. Just  watch that Hass, as usual,  never asks any question of his only witness to check the reality of his story. In honest journalism, dear Haaretz,  all this should be the other way round.
 
 
Ha'aretz July 25, 2003
Checkpoint horror story false
By Amira Hass

Beaten Palestinian says it was PA security forces, not IDF

A Palestinian who claimed that he was held and beaten for 30 hours at an Israel Defense Forces checkpoint now admits that it was actually the Palestinian security services who held him and beat him.

For four days, over and over, Afif Barghouti, 31, told family, friends and journalists of how Israeli soldiers had held him at the Qalandiyah checkpoint for some 30 hours, blindfolded and with his hands tied, and beat him. They did not even let him go to the bathroom, he said. He also told the story to an attorney friend, who hurried him to the hospital in Ramallah for a check-up. That was on Sunday, July 20, shortly after the soldiers had allegedly released him.

The Palestinian press ran prominent photos of his bruised and battered back, accompanied by his story. According to these reports, he had tried to pass through the checkpoint on his way to a plastering job in A-Ram. His identity card also contained his membership card in Fatah, and that, combined with the name Barghouti, was enough to make the soldiers decide to hold him and abuse him, he said. (Another Barghouti, Marwan, is a senior Fatah official currently on trial in Israel for alleged involvement in the murder of dozens of Israelis.)

There was certainly no doubt that Barghouti had been beaten. His back was red from the blows, his head bore a round burn mark where a lighted cigarette had been stubbed out on his skin. His hands were swollen, and he had trouble moving both his hands and his head.

Haaretz English Edition published his story yesterday ("Anyone who walked by, kicked,") along with the IDF Spokeswoman's response, in which the army said that it was looking into the allegations, and if they were found to be true, they would be "handled with the utmost severity." The IDF "views with severity any behavior that involves humiliation of or violence toward the Palestinian population," the spokesman added.

But army officials have now told Haaretz that their investigation has revealed the allegations to be false. They said that from the moment they first learned of the allegations - from the media - last Sunday, sector commanders had begun interrogating all soldiers and officers who could have been involved in the affair, even bringing soldiers on leave back to base for this purpose. They also made intensive efforts to locate Barghouti, so that he could attempt to identify the soldiers who had abused him and finally succeeded, thanks to the numerous interviews he granted, including to the Israeli media. For two days, he refused to meet with the IDF investigators, but finally agreed to come to Qalandiyah to reenact what had happened. There, the officials said, it became clear, "on the basis of the interrogation and the testimony he gave, that his initial version did not match the reality on the ground, and it is evident that the story was not true."

When confronted with the IDF's response, Afif Barghouti admitted to his lawyer friend that he had made the whole story up.

What really happened, he said, was that on Saturday, Palestinians he recognized as working for the Palestinian security services had seized him, held him for almost two days and beaten him. He said that they suspected him of being an Israeli collaborator, to which he responded: "I don't work with the Israelis and I don't work with the Palestinians."

His friend said that he cannot understand why Barghouti invented the Qalandiyah checkpoint story.

A senior official in the Preventive Security Service in Ramallah told Haaretz yesterday that the service has no record of Barghouti ever being suspected of collaborating with Israel. The service has no idea who beat him or why, he said, but it intends to summon him for questioning to find out.

Dr. Said Zeedani, director-general of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights, said that his organization investigates many complaints that Palestinian citizens were abused by the Palestinian security services, and will investigate Barghouti's claim as well. However, he stressed, the commission also investigates many complaints of abuse by Israeli soldiers that turn out to be true. "There are a few cases of people who make things up, but these cases cannot be allowed to divert attention from the humiliations and physical injuries that occur at Israeli army checkpoints," he said.

He said that people who do invent stories do so for a variety of reasons, including a desire for revenge, a desire to impress someone and a desire to remove suspicions of being a collaborator
 
The Original article
Ha'aretz July 24, 2003
Anyone who walked by, kicked
By Amira Hass

The following are two complaints passed on by H a a r e t z t o the IDF Spokesman's Office in the Central Command at the beginning of the week, to get reactions with regard to the behavior of soldiers at the Qalandiyah checkpoint south of Ramallah and at the mobile checkpoint in the Nablus area.
Three hours of kneeling A., who is 34 (the full details of the complainant have been given to the IDF Spokesman), is a plasterer by profession and lives in Ramallah. His family is from a village northwest of the city. Last week he was offered work in the A Ram neighborhood, south of the Qalandiyah checkpoint.

According to A., for the last two years he was nowhere near the checkpoint and was unaware of the rules and regulations governing it. On Saturday, July 19, he went to the checkpoint. He gave the soldier his identity card. Folded into the card was his membership card in the Fatah movement, which includes his clan name  Barghouti  which does not appear in his ID card. He says that when the soldier noticed that name in the card, the soldier asked if A. was related to Marwan Barghouti. A. explained he was not directly related and that they come from different villages. The soldier answered something like "so what, Marwan Barghouti lives in Ramallah now," and ordered A. to stand aside. Afterward, the soldier blindfolded him with a piece of cloth and led him to a hill overlooking the checkpoint. There, he was handcuffed behind his back and told to kneel on the ground with his eyes blindfolded and his hands handcuffed behind his back.

According to A. he was held in that position, under the sky, until the next day, July 20, until four in the afternoon  more than 30 hours. He reckons he was held next to a building that serves as an outhouse. The entire time the soldiers ignored his requests to use the toilet and told him to "do it in your pants." They also ignored his request to loosen or remove the handcuffs. On the Shabbath, they allowed him to drink water once, around two in the afternoon. One soldier held a plastic cup and watered him that way.

Every once in a while, he said, people who walked past would kick him. But when night fell, and there were no more people going through the checkpoint, some of the soldiers got together and in an organized manner beat him. He felt them using fists and a stick on his neck and back. In addition, he felt them putting out burning cigarettes on his head (A. is bald). He said he shouted to please take off the handcuffs, which cut off the blood to his hands.

That night he received a sandwich to eat and for the coming hours another cup of water. The next day, judging by the voices, he could tell the soldiers had been replaced. The new soldiers did not beat him. One asked where he was from and where were his ID papers. He answered, "You have the papers." No other soldier related to him during all that Sunday, July 20.

A. knew how to tell the time according to the muezzin from the nearby mosque. Around 4:30 in the afternoon, one of the soldiers used a radio to make contact with someone, said "there's nothing on him," and then removed the blindfold and handcuffs, ordering him to go home. His ID card was returned to him, but not the Fatah ID card.

He gave this testimony to H a a r e t z about two-and-a-half hours after he was released, at the Ramallah hospital where he was examined. He had difficulty moving his hands after being handcuffed for so many hours. The palms of his hands were very swollen and he had difficulty grasping objects. His upper back was covered with fresh bruises. Round burns marked his head.

First dance, then hop Four soldiers got out of a jeep or an APC in the hilly area northwest of Nablus and for 10 hours held seven passengers of a taxi and the driver, humiliating them.
On Sunday July 20, around 7:30 A.M., G., one of the passengers (all the details  without names  have been given to the spokesman) left Nablus on his way to the village where his family lives north of Nablus. It is a 20-kilometer trip, involving lengthy walks by foot and taxi tides over hilly dirt roads that bypass checkpoints that Palestinians are usually not allowed to pass through.

G. got into a taxi with seven other people. Soon after, around 11 in the morning, in the area between the villages of Dir Sharf and Nakura, the taxi encountered a jeep and an APC. Soldiers got out of one of the vehicles. The taxi was confiscated, and the driver was told to pick it up at he army camp at Shavei Shomron. Four soldiers remained to guard the eight people, and the jeep and APC continued on their w a y .

The soldiers collected the ID cards and one of the soldiers put them in his pocket. According to one of the Palestinians, during the entire time they were held, there was no examination of the ID cards and their owners, through the radio.

According to one of the passengers, during the hours, about once every half hour, the soldiers made the eight people do all sorts of tasks. Dance, hop on one foot, repeat various slogans in Hebrew, stand up, sit down, stand up and sit down, over and over. Around 4:30 in the afternoon, they were allowed to walk back to Nablus.

The IDF says: "The claims are being fully examined in a context that included questioning of the soldiers and officers who serve in the place by the commander of the zone. For that purpose, the complainant has been invited in to provide evidence and describe the details of the event and the examination will c o n t i n u e .

These are very serious complaints about behavior that has no place in the IDF. The IDF regards with severity any behavior that involves humiliation and violence toward the Palestinian population. The subject will continue to be examined in the most in-depth manner and to the extent that the complaints turn out to be true, the matter will be handled with full severity."
 

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