Soldiers Force Palestinian to Play Violin at West Bank Checkpoint

An IDF officer and soldiers at the Beit Iba checkpoint near Nablus forced a young Palestinian on November 9 to open a violin case he was carrying and play the instrument, while local residents waited behind him in a long line.

An Israel Defense Forces officer and soldiers at the Beit Iba checkpoint near Nablus forced a young Palestinian on November 9 to open a violin case he was carrying and play the instrument, while local residents waited behind him in a long line. The incident was filmed by Horit Herman-Peled, a volunteer for the women's human rights organization Machsom Watch, and a complaint was reviewed by the regional brigade commander who conveyed to his troops the severity of the matter.

According to Machsom Watch, another volunteer reported several months ago about a similar incident in which a Palestinian was forced to play for soldiers at a checkpoint in the Jerusalem region.

The IDF Spokesman's Office said in response that an inquiry showed the incident was the result of "insensitive conduct on the part of the soldiers at the checkpoint, who contend with a complex and dangerous reality. The IDF does and continues to do all it can to improve the situation at checkpoints. As part of this, the IDF makes efforts to enhance sensitivity toward humanitarian and humane issues. The IDF continuously employs educational, command and disciplinary tools to emphasize to the soldiers and officers at checkpoints both the importance of the mission and the need to show sensitivity and consideration in the execution of the mission."

An IDF source said yesterday that the officer in charge of the Beit Iba checkpoint on the day of the incident acted in an insensitive manner, but not maliciously, and not with any intent to humiliate the violinist.

The latest Machsom Watch report points to Beit Iba as one of the key sites where freedom of movement is curtailed. Because there was no lighting and a decision was made to relocate the checkpoint, it closed at 5 P.M. and many residents were forced to retrace their steps.