19 August 2008

Letter 3.6

Remember the Newsweek article about the 'hippie haven' in Eilat? Well, probably some pressure was put on the Eilat police and Sunday three friends, Ben, Pia, and Gina were going to the hospital to visit Dieter, who was there with a torn muscle, when the police picked them up and took them to the station where they held Ben 'for investigation' while releasing the two women. They wouldn't let anyone see Ben that day, so Monday I went with Pia and Gina to the station to find out if Ben had been charged with anything and if we could see him. The cops told us to wait and we did, I stood quietly by the desk while the women sat down. We waited for about an hour, when, for reasons unknown -- since I hadn't done anything but sand quietly by the desk waiting for information -- two of the cops began shouting at me in Hebrew, which I couldn't understand, when suddenly a third cop barged into the room and grabbed my arm, shouting in my face, 'Let's go:' I began to reach few my bag of groceries on the floor when he suddenly pulled my arm and pushed me up against the edge of a door. While I was still off balance he shoved me out onto a flight of steps, which I fell down. When I went to the hospital later X-rays showed that I had a broken rib and a dislocated arm.

I've contacted a lawyer, who is preparing a case and seems to think it's pretty airtight -- I've got witnesses and a medical report -- for assault and battery and a civil suit for damages. I can get about with some difficulty (the hospital gave me pain pills) but am, of course, unable to work, I've also written the embassy, though from previous experience with them, I gather I'm not the sort of 'American abroad' to elicit much sympathy.

In the meantime, Ben has disappeared. We know he's no longer in jail, but no one's been allowed to see him and no one will tell us where he is. He's almost certainly not in Eilat. Maybe with a little inducement he confessed that the colony preys on the purity of Israeli youth and masterminds the drug-smuggling in the Middle-East.

Yesterday three more friends were picked up and it's from what they shouted through the bars of the jail that we know Ben has disappeared. None of us even dare to walk down the street alone any longer, but I can hardly leave at this point with a cracked rib, wrenched arm, and funds depleted by medical expenses.

So that's the situation as of now -- a matter of concern, but not a matter to become frantic about -- my lawyer seems on top of it.

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