I find it disturbing that one of Israel’s most free-wheeling online forums, Rotter, has locked the thread in which Avi Yakobov, the IDF soldier who abused a Palestinian woman by belly-dancing and rubbing against her body (see video), was publicly identified. I believe the ostensible reason for doing so is the Hamas threat to kidnap Yakobov in revenge for his degrading of Ihsan Dababseh at the Gush Etzion military base.
But what is Rotter protecting? Every Israeli cabinet minister has been threatened with assassination by Hezbollah. Does this mean that Rotter will lock any thread which mentions them? And what information about Yakobov could anyone learn that would imperil him any more than he’s imperiled himself?
One more note before I move on: the Rotter right-wing warriors have gone apoplectic against Yossi Gurvitz, blaming him for the original story about Yakobov. Yossi is too nice a guy to allow him to take the blame alone. So for the record, I broke this story and deserve all the opprobrium being hurled at Yossi. After publishing my first post, I realized it was important that Israeli bloggers begin exposing the story as well so I wrote to several. Yossi was one of the few who took up the call adding important research and background in his own posts. I find it humorous that the forum members even believe that Yossi is me, just as they believe that another forum member who posts links to my work there is me. I’m beginning to feel like a character from the Scarlet Pimpernel, the man of 1,000 faces.
I have a close Israeli friend with whom I’ve worked on many similar stories and even he was a bit freaked out by the Hamas threat. But I ask him and any Israelis who feel similarly to look at this differently. Avi Yakobov is more than just an individual case. He is in a sense a trailblazer, a precedent. I believe that it is good that someone has threatened Yakobov. It is good that his future trips to enjoy Oktoberfest in Berlin or Munich will be curtailed and he will be looking over his shoulder if he ever decides to take an overseas vacation. I say this not because I wish any ill to Yakobov. Instead, I say it because he is a model for other Israeli soldiers who every day engage in the same type of behavior he did.
Let them think about the repercussions of engaging in such abuse before they do. Let them think about their future being constrained or compromised by their violation of the human rights of Palestinians. This is what is happening writ large to Israeli generals and politicians. But I say let it happen to common soldiers as well. I’d like every Israeli to understand there are consequences for the Occupation. Like Dylan says: bring it all back home.
I understand that Israeli reporters are beginning to sniff out this story and are calling Yakobov at his home and being welcomed with a tirade of abuse. Good. Let him yell and scream all he likes. I only hope that an Israeli publication gets the guts to finally print this guy’s name so that he can take ownership of his bad acts, whether he wishes to or not.
Maan News has interviewed Ihsan Dababseh (spelling her name “Dababisa”) about her ordeal in Israeli detention and it adds further details about her suffering that weren’t previously known:
Dababisa spoke to Ma’an’s correspondent in her home in Nuba village, west of Hebron, and described the ordeal which followed her detention.
Dababisa said she was detained at Etzion checkpoint at 8 a.m. on 11 December 2007, and thrown into a military jeep, handcuffed and blindfolded. She was taken to the yard of Etzion detention center in front of a group of soldiers.
Moments later, she said, she heard loud music and one of the soldiers tried to touch her. She tried to stay close to the wall, and another soldier arrived with a bottle of wine, and offered her a drink. When she refused, but he continued to harass her, she said.
The soldiers then attacked her “like vicious dogs.”
“They began beating me with rifle butts and legs. One of the soldiers hit my head against the metal of the military jeep until I fainted. Then I found myself in front of a female doctor wearing military uniform. After examining me they moved me to the interrogation center where my journey of torture and humiliation started.
“The officer’s name who began to interrogate me was Beran. He threatened to demolish my family home and arrest my siblings, the interrogation lasted for two hours. After that I was transferred with my eyes blindfolded to another interrogation center, I think it was the Russian compound, where there were three interrogators.
“Soon after I came in they began insulting and cursing using words I do not want to say. One of the interrogators was pulling me by my hair. I was handcuffed the whole time. The interrogation lasted until 11 at night, then they transferred me to Hasharon prison where they accused me of trying to stab someone, and of affiliation with the Islamic Jihad. Lawyers from the prisoners’ society defended me and I was sentenced to 22 months in prison. I was released on 6 September 2009.”