The videos that shame Israel

This humiliating video belongs to a collection of clips that officers from the Israeli Border Police have posted on YouTube. Shocking evidence of abuse at the hands of the security forces, the clips date back a year, and despite being posted on YouTube, had not until now raised any eyebrows.  


This humiliating video belongs to a collection of clips that officers from the Israeli Border Police have posted on YouTube. The clips, posted over the last year, show shocking evidence of abuse of Palestinians at the hands of security forces. Despite being posted on YouTube, the clips have not until now raised eyebrows.

The videos were brought to the public eye on Friday by Israeli left-leaning daily Haaretz. Listed in the "comedy" section on the video sharing site, the clips had been viewed over 2,500 times. In most of the footage the faces of the police are not seen and the surroundings are unidentifiable.

Created in 1949, the Israeli Border Police is also a counter-terrorist and riot-control force. Despite their name, there are more border police officers found in the occupied West Bank and in cities like Jerusalem and Bethlehem than on the border itself. Alongside the rural police, they also patrol settlements.

"We cannot do to the Palestinians what we are doing to them, and still remain human beings"

Tzika Besor is a blogger and IT consultant from Yavné, central Israel.

The Israeli media, even the independent ones, were relatively quiet about the videos. It's true that we don't usually see such things but most of Israel knows that they're going on in the occupied territories. The sad thing is that the vast majority of Israelis just do not want to know. They're more concerned about day-to-day things like raising children, traffic jams, the cost of living. They don't live under occupation as is the case in the West Bank. In the West Bank, both the people living there and the Israeli soldiers serving there are going through hell. When soldiers start humiliating Palestinians, well that tells us a lot about how they feel about the situation. In my opinion, they too are victims of the occupation.

I think that we need to investigate this and we need to put people on trial, and we also need to establish an investigative body that will look into the behaviour of the soldiers and the border police in the occupied territories. This is not an isolated incident. This is something that we cannot run away from as long as we are so strong, and we are stepping so hard on the weaker ones. We cannot do to the Palestinians what we are doing to them, and still remain human beings. That is all there is to it."

"Every day we're telling or hearing similar stories"

Mohammed Omer is a blogger  and journalist from the Gaza Strip. In 2008 he fell victim to abuse on the Israeli border with Jordan. Here's his account of his own experiences, which were at the time highlighted in the Western press

This footage only shows the tip of the iceberg. Abuse from Israeli soldiers often goes beyond simple harassment. Last summer, I was coming back from London, where I'd been to pick up my Martha Gellhorn award for best journalism coverage. The police arrested me on the Allenby crossing and took me to ‘Shin Beth', the home security service.

I went through hours of humiliation and torture. They held a gun to my head, forced their fingers into my ears, left me on the floor, rested their weight on my neck with their booted feet, dragged me around the floor like a mop. I vomited repeatedly and then lost consciousness. I still have physical problems and have to go abroad often to have them treated.  

It's certain that Palestinians dread going through border control but at the same time they're determined to continue living their lives as before in spite of the abuse and taunts they get from the occupiers. What's going on in these checkpoints is not only humiliating and shameful for Israeli society but also for the international community which keeps its mouth shut about it. 

For us Palestinians, the behaviour seen on these videos is not new to us at all. Every day we're telling or hearing similar stories."

"It happens with young border policemen who are given a lot of power"

Lisa Goldman is a blogger and journalist in Tel Aviv.

The video was filmed in the occupied territories, in the West Bank. The border policemen who filmed this are doing their mandatory national service in the Border Police. They are very young, 18, 19 years old and they lack sensitivity and discipline. Israelis are ashamed of these videos and condemn them. But are the policemen we saw in the videos representative? Some will tell you that all border policemen are evil and wicked; others will say it's not true and others will say the truth is in the middle.

The existence of abuses in the West Bank is beyond dispute. Usually it happens with young border policemen who are given a lot of power. The problem is that border policemen see Palestinians as terrorists and Palestinians see Israeli Border policemen as uniforms. Neither of them sees the other as just human beings.

I saw many abuses in the West Bank (racist graffiti, spitting, curses, chasing...) but I also saw border policemen who don't like their jobs. They just want to do it and go home. They think that the settlers are crazy, the guys who demonstrate against them are crazy, the occupation is crazy and the whole situation is crazy."

The teeth-grinding video

This 43-second-long video has had almost 38,000 hits. The boy is being made to slap himself at the request of the policemen. At the same time, they ask him to sing a song which ends in the rhyme: “I love you Mishmar Hagvoul” (I love you border police) and then “F*** you Palestine.”