The System In Place: Military trial of beloved singer Oday Khatib sheds light on Israel’s system of arrest and detention [UPDATE: trial postponed to Wednesday, April 17]

Oday Khatib, France 2012. He he stands accused of throwing stones and faces Israeli military trial on Monday. Photo by Khaled Jarrar

Imagine being confined to a small sliver of land, in plain view of a wider homeland that you cannot touch.  Your house is in a refugee camp, surrounded by fine red-roofed homes built by and for strangers who seized your territory without warning or permission.  The strangers, perched on hills that make it possible for them to spy into your home, are protected by one of the world’s most powerful armies, with its tanks, rockets, and helicopter gunships supplied by the top military power on earth.  The soldiers tightly restrict your movements through your own territory.  They subject your family to random searches at military posts along the road, where you’re forced to submit your documents, and sometimes to strip down to your underwear.  At night, without warning, the army may enter your home and take your teen-aged children.  In fact, they often do.  Once you finally find out where they are, they may or may not face any charges.  If they’re not charged, the military courts can hold them there indefinitely.  If they are, the chances they will be found innocent are one in four hundred.  Imagine that you lived in such place, in a land you had long dreamt would be your own sovereign country, but which is now cut up into tiny enclaves that keep you thus confined.  What would you do? If you chose to resist, how would you do so? Oday Khatib fought back by singing.

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