Few years ago, a Palestinian family immigrated to the US and settled in Southern California. The father is such a wonderful man, he has a “Gold Tooth” quite visible once you see him smile. How he got his gold tooth is the subject of this story full of twists and turns, injustice, sadness, patience, and hope for liberation.
Unable to get any work in the occupied territories, he managed to get a work contract in Saudi Arabia.
With hard and honest work, he was doing very well and things really looked good for a change. After a couple of years of non stop work, he was missing his family, and could not take the separation any longer. He arranged to take a full month vacation and unite back with his family in the occupied territories.
The flight was short, but once he arrived, he had to follow strict security procedure by the Israeli authorities. He heard many comments about the many gifts he brought for his family. He explained about his absence for two years, finally was able to go home after 8 hours of intensive questioning and searches.
He made it home at last. He was excited; his family was beyond joy to see him. It was almost the perfect reunion.
In the middle of the night they woke up to the sound of loud commotion and knocking on the door. “BAM BAM BAM open the door”, “Open the door now. BAM BAM BAM”.
He opened the door, over twenty Israeli soldiers rushed inside. He spotted several military vehicles surrounding his house and large military force outside his home.
He had no idea what is going on. His wife and children were all then in the hallway wondering what was happening. He was told that the Israeli military got a tip, there was a terrorist in his home, and they needed to make a search. He denied any terrorist was there, and told them, there was no one other than him, his wife, and kids at the house.
Within 10 minutes, the house was completely upside down. Everything was thrown on the floor, all the drawers were empted and tossed, TV and other fixtures were thrown on the floor. The Soldiers started to search the jewelry of the wife and took her wedding gold bracelets and nickels right in front of her. She barely managed to struggle just to keep a couple of gold pieces.
“OK, that is fine. We have to take you now with us for more questioning” said the Israeli military officer who seemed to be in charge. They hand cuffed and hooded him, then placed him inside one of the military vehicles. Later, he found himself at some type of a military station or possibly a prison. He was placed in a small room for many hours, then brought out for questioning. He was asked to sit. Hand cuffed, hands behind his back the entire time. Strong light in his face, then the interrogation begun.
“You are a terrorist, we know everything about you. We have pictures, we have evidence. Just tell us, who are the other terrorists in your group”
“I’m not a terrorist I swear, I’m not involved with anyone, I just came here after working for two years in Saudi Arabia. You must be mistaken, I’m not a terrorist”.
This questioning was relentless and continuous for weeks. He explained “they kicked me, slapped me, hit me, swore at me and my family, and often dumped large containers of cold water on my head in the freezing winter. They used two big fans to dry me off. I was purple. I was bleeding. My fingers were so swollen from the hand cuffs, they were dark”.
Occasionally, he is put back into a small cell (10‘ x 10′) with 6 – 9 prisoners. One would wonder, how can it be possible? where do they sit, or sleep? He explained, “they never let us sleep. There is no space, and they put very loud music. Every few minutes, the guard would kick the steel door so hard, you just want to kill yourself”. I asked him, if they threaten his life during the questioning. He replied “I wish they did, but they always threatened to rape my wife, my mother, and my sisters, and bring them here to the prison”. I asked him, what did they want him to do. He replied, “they want me to sign papers that I’m a terrorist, then put me in prison for ten, or twenty years. Many people can’t take it and sign the papers just to stop this torture, but for me, I wanted to kill myself. Once they removed the hood off my face while I was being integrated, then put it back on. I saw a metal filling cabinet. I rushed into this cabinet with my head attempting to kill myself”. I asked him, if they showed any sympathy then. He said, “they brought a doctor who told me that he knew why I wanted to kill myself, he knew I’m hiding something, and better come clean and confess”.
I asked him about the bathroom. He said “there was a small container in the corner of the cell. We use it for “number one”. Sometimes, the cell is over crowded with prisoners, there is no room to stand, and the container spilled all over the cell. Every morning, the guard took us out to the toilet, but this is not a problem, because we hardly ate anything”.
I asked him about the food. He replied “during the first few days, they put for me some tomato sauce with salt and ask me to lick it off a bowl with my hands cuffed behind my back. They say” eat this like a good dog”. I refused to eat. Then some days later, another officer came and had the cuffs removed, gave me a small piece of bread, and told me to dip the bread in the bowl and eat. Oh, I felt so good then”. He continued “the officer said – why are you subjecting yourself to all this, we have the pictures and evidence, just confess and I will get you a change of cloths and better food”.
I heard many details about his torture, sexual abuse, use of animals, religion, female guards, practically an identical approach that later was practiced at the Abu Ghraib prison. He said to me ” I was tortured by the masters of torture. These are the same people that trained the Abu Ghraib prison guards. It is no secret “.
After few years, he managed to get his entire family out, and come to the USA. He is a very shy person and never told this story to anyone, but one day, I asked him about his gold tooth, and how he got it. He paused for a while, as if he went back to a memory that he wished he could forget. He told me privately, but out of respect for him, while his identity is concealed, his story should be told. We invite you to join in prayers that this type of story does not repeat, and may God bless this man and his family, reward them for their patience, and grant them success in this life and in the hereafter.
Syndicated from—Staff Writer: MuslimBridges.org