NUBA, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – A Palestinian woman described on Wednesday how she was “humiliated” when Israeli soldiers filmed her in detention, one of them belly dancing close to her as she stood blindfolded against a wall.
“I saw the video on Al-Jazeera. I didn’t sleep all night because I felt humiliated and frustrated,” Ihsan al-Dababsi, 35, from the southern West Bank village of Nuba, told AFP.
“The sound of the soldiers’ laughter and the music were ringing in my ears,” she said of the video, which sparked outrage after it was posted on the Internet.
In the clip circulated on YouTube, a bound and blindfolded Dababsi huddles next to a wall as a grinning Israeli soldier in sunglasses belly dances to Arabic music, repeatedly brushing up close to her.
A Hebrew-language speech bubble coming from her mouth reads “Allahu Akbar” — Arabic for “God is greatest.” The grainy clip lasts just over a minute.
Dababsi said she had contacted the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, a non-governmental advocacy group, and planned to pursue legal action against the Israeli military.
The incident took place when she was arrested in December 2007 and charged with being a member of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, she said, adding that she was later sentenced to 22 months in prison.
“When they arrested me, they took me to the Etzion detention centre near Bethlehem. After they questioned me, they put me in a corridor and put on a blindfold and handcuffs,” she said.
“I could hear the laughter of the soldiers, their voices and the music. I could see what was happening because the blindfold was not tight, and I begged them not to film me.
“But they continued to videotape me, and they were drinking alcohol and dancing,” she said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the soldier’s reported behaviour, saying it was an “assault on human dignity and brought shame on the Israel Defence Forces and the State of Israel.”
“Humiliating prisoners runs contrary to the values of Israel and the Jewish people,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority said the video was “deeply offensive to the dignity of women”.
“This is a disgusting illustration of the sick mentality of the occupier. This is not an isolated incident,” said a statement from the office of prime minister Salam Fayyad.
“With the advent of easy-to-use media like YouTube, the truth is coming to light about a culture of humiliation of the Palestinians,” it said.
The Islamist Hamas movement, which rules Gaza, also denounced the footage. Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the soldier’s behaviour “reflects the racism and the absence of morals among the occupation soldiers.”
The Israeli army condemned it as an “isolated” incident and said military police had opened an investigation.
It added that, from now on, a military police investigation would become “standard practice in cases in which similar behaviour is alleged.”
Exposure of the video came just seven weeks after an Israeli soldier sparked outrage by posting pictures of herself smiling and larking around next to blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian prisoners.
At the time, human rights groups and Israeli commentators said taking photographs with detainees was commonplace and clear evidence of a culture within the military that considered Palestinian detainees as sub-human and objects of ridicule.
The YouTube video can be found at