Opinion

The Israeli Soldiers Who Beat a Blind Palestinian Man Are Beastly

It was beastly human beings who stormed into the home of Mizhar Munzer and his wife Iman, who covered up the gravity of the incident, who did not punish anyone and who remained indifferent to this abuse

Munzer Mizhar with his wife, Iman, and his sister, at home in the West Bank town of Dawha.
Alex Levac

To beat an ill, blind adult man in his bed. To hold the face of a helpless person who couldn’t even see who hit him and pummel it with fists, again and again, one punch after another. For masked, armed soldiers - all of them “warriors,” their nation’s pride, and surely an officer among them people - to just stand by and watch without lifting a finger to stop the abuse. To keep the wife of this blind man who cannot even stand without help from trying to protect her husband as he flails his arms in a desperate attempt to shield his face from the punches. To force his children to kneel, faces pressed to the floor before their now-bleeding father. To know there is a sick person in the home and still to force their way into his bedroom and beat him up in front of his wife and children at 4 A.M. without an explanation. Then finally to issue an official statement saying the soldier “tried to examine a Palestinian man who shouted and acted disruptively.”

>> Read more: Without saying a word, Israeli troops beat up a blind man in his bed ■ Beyond the holiness of Israel's security forces

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To claim, with unbelievable chutzpah, that Munzer Mizhar, a 47-year-old diabetic who went blind 15 years ago and has been on dialysis for 11, whose big toes were amputated, who is so weak he can only whisper, “shouted and acted disruptively.” To arrogantly ignore the question asked to the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit, does the army intend to apologize to Mizhar? To issue such a sanctimonious and misleading response as “The incident was investigated and appropriate conclusions were drawn.”

Without a criminal investigation, without arrests, without taking responsibility, without blame or even an apology. And then to be shocked whenever someone tries to expose the naked truth: These are beastly human beings.

It was beastly human beings who, on February 20 at 4:45 A.M., stormed into the home of Mizhar Munzer and his wife Iman in Doha, near Bethlehem. It was beasts who abused Mizhar. It was beasts who covered up the gravity of the incident, who did not punish anyone and who do not even consider apologizing. Beasts, too, are all those who remained indifferent to this abuse.

The soldiers were on one of their endless arrest missions, most of which amount to little more than snatching civilians from their beds, often without any justification.

The young man they were looking for was not at home, so they went searching for him at a neighbor’s apartment. The neighbors warned them that Mizhar was ill, but they broke in and beat him up, as they are wont to do. All this is understandable, all this might be forgivable, but not the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit response action to the story Alex Levac and I published Friday.

The moment the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit covered up the action, made light of it, in effect, mocked it and justified the soldiers’ actions, the brave soldiers acting against the ill and disabled, from that moment the actions became more than the responsibility of its perpetrators and metamorphosed into the official position of the IDF and the State of Israel.

These are the IDF’s instructions for abuse: Beat up anyone in your path. The IDF sees nothing wrong with abusing the disabled, beating up the blind, nor does the state. The abusive soldier and his comrades who busted into the bedroom in Doha are not the only beasts. What took place there didn’t only happen here. Now the IDF is standing behind this behavior. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit and its commanders are cheering on the abusive soldiers. If such a criminal act as this goes unpunished, if apologizing for this shame is beyond the IDF’s capabilities, then this turns from being an aberrant incident to a deliberate policy encouraged from above. Beat up the blind, continue to injure helpless individuals in their beds, because you’re beasts and we’re behind you.

We are not the victim nor are our “children” for what the occupation does to them. We have to stop this rant as well. The victims are Munzer Mizhar, his wife and children who are still traumatized by these events, with no one to help them. When you have an army whose soldiers can so abuse helpless people and then lend support to their behavior, to hell with the criminal cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Mizhar case is much more infuriating.