The Palestine Monitor – A PNGO Information Clearinghouse
Presidential Candidate Attacked by Israeli Forces
Wednesday 8th December 2004afa
Dr Mustafa Barghouthi, prominent democratic candidate in the upcoming Palestinian presidential election, is tonight receiving medical care in Ramallah’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 northern West Bank city of Jenin and refused passage to return to his home city of Ramallah. After being forced from their cars at gunpoint, his group faced a barrage of abuse and random beatings. Lu’ai Arafat received several blows to the head with the butt of a rifle. As soldiers began to beat Dr. Allam Jarrar, Dr. Barghouthi stepped in to intervene and received a severe beating to his back during which he fell to the ground. The other staff were also forced to the ground and all six were made 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 Monday Dr. Barghouthi was held at gunpoint at a checkpoint on Al-Shuhada St. in Hebron 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 are experiencing at the 700 Israeli checkpoints within the West Bank. He urged the international community to intervene not only to enable the elections but also to immediately halt this abhorrent treatment of Palestinian civilians.
Only last month US Secretary of State Colin Powell promised Palestinians full American support for elections, and Israel made assurances that it would aid the elections by easing travel restrictions. On November 22nd Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom stated that it was in Israel’s interest to see that the Palestinian elections go forward, that “Israel will do everything in its power to ensure their smooth running,” and that Palestinians would have “freedom of movement.”
Today’s events clearly show Israel’s blatant efforts to obstruct the Palestinian democratic elections, once again demonstrating their disregard for human rights. If the presidential candidates themselves are forced to endure such violence and humiliation, it is unlikely that the remaining Palestinian population, who face these hardships on a daily basis, will be granted the necessary freedom to vote.