Beaten, arrested, threatened: A personal account from the anti-Prawer protest

She was clubbed and dragged while her friends were beaten and arrested during a demonstration against the planned expulsion of thousands of Bedouin in the Negev.

By Alma Biblash (translated by Dimi Reider)

Three arrested Beduin youth laying on the ground hand cuffed during a police raid on the main road on the town of Hura, after a Day of Rage protest, November 30, 2013.
Three arrested Beduin youth laying on the ground hand cuffed during a police raid on the main road on the town of Hura, after a Day of Rage protest, November 30, 2013.

On Saturday night at the anti-Prawer demonstration in the village of Houra, a policeman swung a club against my leg when I tried to persuade him to let go of a girl he was holding by the throat.

Another policeman grabbed me by the arms and dragged me off. A moment later he grabbed a little boy standing next to me, shoved his face into the dirt and screamed at him that he is going to kill him. A young woman shouted at a policeman to calm down and stop beating people up, and he slapped her so hard she fell onto the ground.

I’m running, escaping the jet of putrid water, a man is running next to me. Police on horseback appear out of the dark and trample him down, sending him flying into the air.

Click here for a photo essay from the anti-Prawer protests

I’m hiding behind a parked vehicle with stun grenades exploding all around me. On the ground next to me is a kuffiyeh soaked in blood. I decide to go back to the buses where it’s quiet. Along the way I see a little boy sitting on the ground and crying. I tell him it’s too dangerous to sit here but he doesn’t seem to hear, or maybe he doesn’t understand Hebrew. Eventually he gets up and starts running with me until he hears a familiar voice calling him, lets go of my hand and disappears.

All around me terrified people are running, but I’m out of breath, and I go straight for the bus. One friend with a swollen face catches up with me, another has a deep cut to her brow and blood on her face and shirt.

We take the bus to the police station and begin protesting, demanding for the prisoners to be released. At some point the policemen decide that it is time for us to leave. They are huge and get particularly close to the women, nearly touching us, before screaming into our faces. They push us away with far more force than necessary, and shove me and another woman up against a parked car. It’s hard to breathe. A friend says – we’re leaving, just let us move away. “Shut up!” one of them screams at her and raises his hand threateningly. Ambulances arrive with wounded detainees on stretchers. No wonder the police didn’t want us to see. Meanwhile, reports are coming in about live fire being used by the police near the village. On the way home, I listen to the stories of other friends, many of them beaten by the police.

The Israeli media reported on the “extreme violence” on the part of the protesters, using its usual vocabulary of “riots,” “disturbances” and “clashes” alongside ominous photos of burning tires. Many friends are still detained or under house arrest, and many are facing indictments for violence and assault. Perhaps it is time we start talking about what really happened in the village of Houra on Saturday night.

Read more:
Activists hold ‘day of rage’ protests against Prawer Plan
PHOTOS: ‘Day of rage’ against the Prawer Plan in five cities
Police drag, arrest and allegedly beat Bedouin child at anti-Prawer protest