Testimony: Settlers assault 14-year old on his family's land and kidnap him, Feb. '09

Adham Ghaneimat, 14

Adham Ghaneimat

I live with my parents and six brothers and sisters in Surif, west of Hebron. I am in the eighth grade at the school in the town.  My father is a laborer and he is now being held by Israel for entering the country illegally.

Last Thursday [12 February], there was a teachers' strike, and I didn't go to school. Instead, I went for a walk with my cousin Muhammad, who is fifteen, and with a friend of mine, Karam Bassam, who is fourteen, to my grandfather's plot of land. It lies less than a kilometer from the Bat Ayin settlement.

We got there about noon. About half an hour later, while we were sitting on the ground, we saw a motorcycle drive toward us on a dirt road that runs from the settlement. On the motorcycle was a young settler of medium height, with short hair and pale skin. When he was about two hundred meters from us, we got up and ran away. Muhammad and Karam ran toward a hill opposite the settlement, and I hid behind a boulder. About five minutes later, another motorcycle pulled up. The rider was a young settler wearing olive-green trousers. He was taller than the other settler and his skin was darker. He was wearing sunglasses.

The two of them stopped. The tall one came over to where I was, and I tried to run away. I don't know the area well and I tried to run up another hill. The other settler drove along the dirt road, trying to block me. He was a few meters in front of me. The taller settler got onto his motorcycle, drove up to us and ran over my right foot. I tried to get away, but he ran me over again, hitting the same foot. I stopped. He got off the motorcycle, grabbed me by the shoulder and started to shout at me in Hebrew. Then the two of them hit me with a stick and punched me. I started to cry. I told them I had been only playing, but they didn't understand what I was saying and continued to beat me. One of them grabbed me and pressed his fingers on the left side of my chest.

Adham Ghaneimat at his home. Photo: Musa Abu Hashhash, B'Tselem, 18 Feb. 2009
Adham Ghaneimat at his home. Photo: Musa Abu Hashhash, B'Tselem, 18 Feb. 2009

Suddenly a shepherd, about sixty years old, came over to us. Later, I learned his name was ‘Abdallah Muhammad Ibrahim Ghaneimat. He saw the settlers attacking me and tried to rescue me. I heard him tell them that I was only a child, but they didn't listen to him. They shouted at him and made him go away. Then they told me to run in front of them to the settlement. I ran and they followed me on their motorcycles. One of them kept hitting me in the foot. I cried the whole way.

One of the times that one of the wheels hit my foot, I fell down because it hurt so much. The two settlers got off their motorcycles and tried to force me to get up and continue to walk, but I felt that I couldn't do it. I only managed to continue, barely, after the shepherd shouted from a distance that I should do what they said. The settlers continued to ride behind and beside me.

After a long time, more than an hour I think, we got to the settlement's gate. The two settlers took me into the settlement and sat me down on the ground, behind the gate. They left me there for about an hour, standing next to me, until an Israeli police car with two policemen pulled up. One of the policemen cuffed my hands in front of me and then they put me in the vehicle and took me to the Etzion police station.

It was already dark when we got to the station. The policemen put me in a room and another policeman questioned me. Also in the room was an interpreter, who asked what my brothers' names were. He asked me what I had been doing on the plot, and claimed that I had tried to steal from the settlement. I told him that wasn't true, and that I was on my grandfather's land. He kept saying I was lying, and that I wanted to steal from the settlement. He said that if I told him the truth, he would let me go. After about half an hour, he took me to the yard and told me to sit down. He told me policemen would take me home. I waited for more than half an hour and nobody came to take me. Then three soldiers came and made me get out. One of them kicked me, opened the gate of the station, and told me get out of there.

I walked about three hundred meters and got to an asphalt road. My leg and chest hurt. A yellow taxi stopped and the driver asked where I was going and what my name was. When I answered, he told me he knows my father, and he took me to Beit Ummar, where I got into another taxi, which took me to the taxi stand, and from there, I walked home. I got home at about 8:00 P.M.

My mother was worried and asked if they had beaten me. I told her what had happened. She said the shepherd had told her that the settlers were holding me. I later learned that my grandfather went to the settlement but didn't find me, and then he went to the checkpoint and asked the soldiers about me. The soldiers told him I had been taken to the Etzion station but when he got to the station, I was already gone.

My father's cousin, Musa Ghaneimat, took me to ‘Aliyah Hospital, in Hebron, where I was examined and X-rayed. I had no broken bones. The doctor put an elastic bandage on my right foot. Then I went home.

I didn't go to school on Sunday, and on Monday, I only went to two classes. My foot still hurts, and it's hard for me to walk.

On Friday, my mother went with me to Palestinian police headquarters in Hebron and we filed a complaint.

Adham Khaled Muhammad Ghaneimat, 14 and highschool student is a resident of Surif in Hebron District. His testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash at the witness's house on 18 February 2009.