Sunday, April 18, 1999
A Mini-Pogrom in Tul KarmBy Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz
I hadn't seen anything like it in the territories for a long time: household utensils, telephones, a computer, furniture, electrical appliances, pictures and more all scattered across the floor and smashed to pieces. Among the wreckage was a defaced copy of the Koran. The air conditioner on the wall had been damaged, the clock smashed, potted plants upended, wardrobes wrecked, the electricity generator destroyed, doors ripped off their hinges and sacks of valuable seeds ripped apart and their contents spilled everywhere, turned into veritable seeds of destruction.It happened last Wednesday in the Kadan family's plant nursery, the largest of its kind on the West Bank, on the border separating Tul Karm and Shweia, opposite the milestone that demarcates the change from Area A to Area B. The members of this well-off family are considered to be "good Arabs": They trade a lot with Israel and have not a few friends in the country.
The forces arrived at dawn: At about 3:30 A.M., Basam Kadan was startled awake by the noise of the gates being torn down. Basam has six daughters and a 3-month-old son, and they too were awoken by the kicking on the doors. The soldiers and the police forcibly entered the area of the nursery and then Basam's house. The signs of the forced entry are apparent on every door.
Armed with hammers, they smashed everything they could reach. A picture of the late head of the family, Badia Kadan, who was president of the Tul Karm Chamber of Commerce for 16 years and who died just a year ago, hangs smashed upon the wall. The family's Subaru that was parked in the yard has been wrecked beyond recognition: All four tires have been ripped with knives, its rear window and headlights smashed to smithereens. In the late father's bedroom in the elegant family wing of the house, drawers have been broken into: The brothers complain that $6,000 was hidden there by their mother, who had just returned from heart surgery in Jordan. The money disappeared during this nighttime visit. Basam complains that he was hit during the attack.
Who was responsible? Basam Kadan claims they were soldiers. The IDF spokesman was quick to point out that this was an action undertaken to find disassembly plants for stolen cars, and that the police were therefore responsible. There were only four or five soldiers attached to the force and they were not involved, explained the spokesman. The spokesman for the Samaria and Judea District Police, Rafi Yaffe, tried at first to deny the whole story: He had checked and found that the police had no information concerning any such incident. As was once the fashion, he tried to imply that perhaps the Palestinians themselves were involved. A few hours later, though, he changed his mind: The commander of the Kedum police station, Hai Yitzhak, visited the area and discovered, according to the spokesman, that "a certain amount of damage had been done to the nursery. We take this matter very seriously. We will undertake an inquiry and those responsible will be put on trial."
So the bad old days are back. A police force that was searching for a stolen vehicle disassembly plant - which is actually to be found not far away - went and vented its anger on the homes of innocent civilians. The police destroyed simply for destruction's sake, with no operational or other goal to justify their actions. They were only Arabs, after all, so the police were entitled to do what they like, to ruin and to destroy, to beat and to injure, to vent their frustration or simply have fun in the night.
Severe financial damage was caused to the Kadan family: Their friend, Baruch Yogev, who owns an Israeli seed company, explained at the week end that the cost of a single kilogram of the seeds that were scattered and destroyed during the vandals' attack can range as high as $20,000 or $25,000. It would seem that the family will survive the economic setback. It is far more difficult to tell how they will survive the burden of degradation and fear that the police planted in their Tul Karm night of violence. What will the Kadan children remember from that night? How will their parents explain to them what happened? What message will they carry with them, and why did they deserve this treatment? Was it merely because they are Palestinians?
And this is us as well: A country that sends its
finest doctors to build a field hospital in Kosovo
and help a persecuted national minority, also sends
its police to sow cruel destruction and violence in
the homes of innocent civilians, who are also
members of a conquered and persecuted people
(c) copyright 1999 Ha'aretz. All Rights Reserved