The following story is not easy to read, but we feel that behind the words “military rule” and “torture,” hides a reality that we must bring to light. This reality is composed of thousands of human stories. Here is the story of the 18-year-old Alaa - one story out of many.
Alaa Salah, an 18-year-old Palestinian from Isawiya, thought the worst was behind him. Last October, about a year ago, he was caught up in a demonstration in his village. The last thing he remembers from the event is running in a suffocating cloud of tear gas that the soldiers fierd at the protesters. Suddenly, while running, he felt a terrible pain in the left side of his head and lost consciousness.
He woke up in the French hospital in East Jerusalem, where he was given the news: he was shot with a rubber bullet, which caused a skull fracture. As a result of the injury he lost his left eye. From that point on, Alaa faced complex and excruciating medical procedures: He underwent platinum transplant surgery, and returned home to await another difficult surgery for artificial eye transplant.
This story should have ended here. But for Alaa, the painful saga had just begun. A month after returning home from the hospital, the security services summoned him to an interrogation and, according to him, also threatened his family. He decided to turn himself in at the Russian Compound Jail.
Alaa spent days in a small, two-meter-square cell, together with another detainee. He was kept up at night with cold air blown directly into the cell, and a constant yellow light . “I was very hungry and thirsty, and the whole time the guards were taunting me, calling me ‘the guy with the missing eye’ and telling me, ‘we will take out your other eye.’”
During this detention period, a guard held him by the neck and slammed his head against the wall, hitting the injured area. “I yelled and cried and asked to see a doctor. They refused. The guards made me lie on the floor and stepped on me. I told them my eye hurts a lot, but they ignored it.”
Alaa is still in custody. He still hasn't received proper medical care. The condition of his eye has worsened, and his sight in the other eye in in danger. The complaint we submitted to the Police Investigation Department about the shooting incident was closed: last week we appealed this decision. We have not received any response to the complaint from National Prison Guards Investigation Division, the body in charge of investigating allegations of guards’ violence. Alongside our legal efforts, we are also accompanying Alaa’s family and working with professional organizations to see to it that he receives adequate and professional medical attention.
Since the year began, we have submitted seven complaints about violence by guards: no police investigation followed. In many cases, we have not even received any response – including in severe cases like Alaa’s. In July, the online news platform Sicha Mekomit (The Hebrew Version of +972 Magazine) revealed that National Prison Guards Investigation Division investigates less than a quarter of the complaints submitted to it. The chance of convicting a prison guard of abuse is less than one percent. In order for us to be able to change this policy, we need to raise awareness about what’s happening, exposing this reality to as many people as possible - and here is where you can help.
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