Monday, June 26, 2006

When getting arrested is fashionable

From LGF :

NABLUS, WEST BANK — Mohammed Kharaz wanted to get away. He longed to escape the stretches of boredom broken by intense eruptions of violence that are a teenager’s life in this strife-ridden city. So, for a break, he got himself thrown into an Israeli jail.

The idea wasn’t even his, the 17-year-old confesses. He first heard it from a kid who sat beside him in class: If you get yourself arrested by the Israeli army, they send you to a prison with digital television, interesting books and even a decent soccer pitch. In short, everything you don’t find in Nablus, a city cut off from the rest of the West Bank by a series of Israeli military checkpoints.

To Mohammed, it sounded like a dream vacation. So on Feb. 25, he tucked a kitchen knife under his shirt and headed toward the concrete barriers and metal turnstiles that block the road south to Ramallah.

It played out just as his friend described. When he got to the front of the long, slow-moving line of Palestinians seeking to leave Nablus, an Israeli soldier told him to lift up his shirt. With a sniper’s rifle pointed at his chest, Mohammed pulled out the knife.

“Two soldiers jumped on top of me and started beating me up, but I didn’t care,” Mohammed recalled. “Getting arrested was like a fashion trend. It was the thing to do.”

It’s the latest peculiarity in a region already full of contradictions: Palestinian youths, who speak openly of their hatred for Israel, willingly putting themselves into Israeli custody because life in jail is seen as being better than life at home.

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