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Detained Donkeys???

April 7, 2010

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Ten days after the Palm Sunday rally, in which Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki and several others were detained, Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality ordered one of the detainees to pay bail for the release of his donkeys.

Ibrahim Salah, 46, from Al-Khader, told officials at the Bethlehem governorate that he was horse-plowing an area of land near the main checkpoint separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem when he saw the approaching rally. Noticing that protesters were riding donkeys, in keeping with Christian tradition that describes Jesus Christ entering Jerusalem on a donkey, Salah decided to join the procession with his two donkeys and horse.

Salah called taking part in the protest his “nationalist duty” against the Israeli occupation and settlements, noting that his land was also threatened with appropriation.

The Palm Sunday detainee added his arrest and detention at Israel’s Ofer prison was not for nothing, because he was able to see his son, who has been in the detention center for seven months.

“I arrived at the Ofer detention center at 11pm. I introduced myself to the Palestinian detainees and told them that my son was supposed to be here. They called for my son, telling him I was here. I had to wait until the morning break before I had a chance to see him and hug him, amidst the excitement of all the detainees who burst into tears,” Salah said.

Salah was released four days later on bail to discover that his two donkeys were detained at the checkpoint, while his youngest son had managed to take the horse home. One of the donkeys, he said, belonged to a neighbor.

In search of the donkeys’ whereabouts, Salah asked Palestinian workers who pass through the checkpoint daily if they knew where they might be detained. Acquaintances living near the checkpoint in Jerusalem contacted the Israeli municipality on his behalf, who relayed that a fine of 1,200 shekels was needed to secure the donkeys’ release.

Salah could not afford the fine, and the acquaintances negotiated with the municipality to lower the penalty. An agreement was finally reached, and the Palm Sunday detainee paid 400 shekels for the return of his donkeys, after borrowing money from friends.

Perplexed at the high fine he was made to pay, Salah was told that it was, in part, reimbursement for animal feed which was given to the donkeys over their four-day detention. “Is the bill that high because they had been giving my donkeys biscuits to eat?” he asked sarcastically.

Salah’s family, like many, is no stranger to detention; his brother was among the Nativity Church deportees, exiled to the Gaza Strip in 2002. His son remains in detention, while his nieces have been imprisoned for several months. His brothers’ homes have been demolished. His plowing horse was stolen by settlers. After appealing to President Mahmoud Abbas, Salah received reimbursement from the Palestinian Authority to purchase a new horse.

Source: http://maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=274481

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