Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Palestinian Presidential candidate beaten by Israelis, Dec. 8, 2004

The Palestine Monitor
A PNGO Information Clearinghouse
Presidential Candidate Attacked by Israeli Forces

Wednesday 8th December 2004
Dr Mustafa Barghouthi, prominent democratic candidate in the upcomingPalestinian presidential election, is tonight receiving medical care inRamallah's Sheikh Zayed Hospital after being beaten to the ground by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint outside Jenin.

Dr. Barghouthi was stopped at the Jaba checkpoint outside the northernWest Bank city of Jenin and refused passage to return to his home cityof Ramallah. After being forced from their cars at gunpoint, his groupfaced a barrage of abuse and random beatings. Lu'ai Arafat receivedseveral blows to the head with the butt of a rifle.

As soldiers began tobeat Dr. Allam Jarrar, Dr. Barghouthi stepped in to intervene andreceived a severe beating to his back during which he fell to theground. The other staff were also forced to the ground and all six weremade to remain face down for more than an hour.

This is the second time in a week that this presidential candidate has been prevented from traveling between towns in the West Bank.

On MondayDr. Barghouthi was held at gunpoint at a checkpoint on Al-Shuhada St. inHebron and prevented from reaching the Palestinian neighborhood of Tel Al-Armeda. Dr. Barghouthi commented after this instance that he had experienced the worst of the humiliation and abuse Palestinians areexperiencing at the 700 Israeli checkpoints within the West Bank. He urged the international community to intervene not only to enable theelections but also to immediately halt this abhorrent treatment ofPalestinian civilians.

Only last month US Secretary of State Colin Powell promised Palestiniansfull American support for elections, and Israel made assurances that itwould aid the elections by easing travel restrictions.

On November 22ndIsraeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom stated that it was in Israel'sinterest to see that the Palestinian elections go forward, that "Israelwill do everything in its power to ensure their smooth running," andthat Palestinians would have "freedom of movement."

Today's events clearly show Israel's blatant efforts to obstruct thePalestinian democratic elections, once again demonstrating theirdisregard for human rights. If the presidential candidates themselvesare forced to endure such violence and humiliation, it is unlikely thatthe remaining Palestinian population, who face these hardships on adaily basis, will be granted the necessary freedom to vote.