RAMALLAH, April 21 (JMCC) - A Danish activist struck in the face by an Israeli military officer during a demonstration last week protesting the closure of the Jordan Valley to Palestinians has spoken to
Andreas Ias, not his real name, says that what happened to him, which caused a stir in Israel, is commonplace for Palestinians.
It has been framed in the media as the ‘Danish incident', as though this is not how the Israel Defence Forces normally act, he said in a Ramallah cafe. But what happened to me is nothing compared to the systematic violence carried out on Palestinians. This is not a single incident, it's what we see every day. But it's very difficult to move the focus from me to the issues of the Palestinian struggle in the West Bank.
The recent high school graduate is a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement, which often accompanies Palestinians in demonstrations, acting as international witnesses. Several members of the group have been seriously injured and killed.
I've seen people whose homes have been demolished in the middle of the night by dozens of soldiers, people who are left with nothing. I've seen Bedouin villages without running water or electricity next to Israeli settlements with total control over water resources. I've seen people denied their basic human rights and any hope for the future. You can't experience that without it changing you.
Lieutenant Colonel Shalom Eisner was removed from his post after video was circulated of him striking Ias in the face with his rifle butt. Some 150-200 Palestinians and internationals sought to ride their bikes into the Jordan Valley, but were blocked by the Israeli military.
Eisner, who is barred from speaking directly to the press, claims that his finger was broken in the incident and that the activists were violent. An eight-minute video of the incident is available here
, filmed by Palestine Television.