A young Palestinan woman who spent two years in an Israeli prison says she is the blindfolded victim shown in a video of an Israeli soldier dancing around a female prisoner that has gone viral in recent weeks.
The video was posted on YouTube before being aired by Israel's channel 10 and the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera on October 5.
The Israeli military police issued a statement saying it was investigating the incident, and military spokespeople stressed that cases like these were isolated incidents that “are not representative of the Israeli army as a whole”. Less than two months ago, a similar scandal was sparked after a female Israeli officer published a photo of herself posing in front of bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoners on her Facebook page.
“I had heard the sound of a camera turning on, but I thought they were filming each other, not me”
Ihsan Dababseh, 35, says she recognised herself as the blindfolded woman on the video after it was aired on television, but did not know at the time that she was being filmed. In 2009, she was released from an Israeli prison where she was detained for two years. We were put in touch with her by the Hebron Club of Palestinian prisoners.
I was arrested on December 11, 2007 at a checkpoint between Hebron and Bethlehem – supposedly on charges of murdering a soldier, but in reality because the Israelis knew that I was a member of the Islamic Jihad [an armed Palesinian group].
A group of about ten soldiers brought me to the Etzion detention centre, where I was held in an interrogation cell. I was questioned for four hours, then brought out to the courtyard. I was blindfolded and my hands were tied, but if I lifted my chin I could distinguish a little of what was going on around me.
The soldiers were eating, drinking and laughing all around me. At one point, I heard music. Although I couldn’t see clearly, I realised they had started dancing while I was facing the wall. I also heard the sound of a camera turning on, but I thought they were filming each other, not me. An hour later, I was interrogated for a second time before being transferred to the Hasharon prison, where I was locked in an isolated cell for three days. I was then put on trial and sentenced to two years in prison.
I was watching television with my family when the video was aired. When I saw it, I realised with a shock that the blindfolded woman was me. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The next day, I contacted thePalestinian Prisoner Club
and the Committee Against Torture [in the West Bank]. We have filed a lawsuit to bring these soldiers to justice. I hope that the proceedings will come to something, but honestly, I’m not very optimistic. This isn’t the first time that such acts have been brought to justice, and the soldiers are usually suspended for a few days at most.
Ihsan Dababseh with d’Amjad Annajar, le the director of the Hebron branch of the Palestinian Prisoner Club.
Ihsan Dababseh with her lawyer