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From the field

Video and testimony: Officer head-butts youth in the face. Hebron, 25.7.2012

Testimony taken by B’Tselem reveals that on 25 July 2012, at about 7:30 PM, Thair Ghanam, a 17 year old resident of Hebron, and three of his cousins were on their way home from work. They were hurrying back for the Iftar meal to break the daily Ramadan fast. Ghanam’s told B’Tselem:

Thair Ghanam“We were running toward the Beit Hadassah checkpoint that we have to cross to get home. At the checkpoint, the soldier standing there began shouting at us. He ordered us to stop and we did. The soldier started cursing us and our mother. Then he told me to show him my ID card. I got angry at the soldier because he was cursing my mother and refused to give him my ID card. He started talking with someone on his walkie-talkie and then I took hold of his hand and told him that I would give him my ID card. The soldier did not take it and told me to wait. He told my cousins to go away, but my cousin Hamadah answered that we were walking together and that they would not leave.”

Zidan Sharabati, a volunteer in B’Tselem’s camera distribution project, told B’Tselem that he was watching television at home, overlooking the Beit Hadassah checkpoint, when he heard an argument between some youths and a soldier at the checkpoint. At first, he looked out the window to see what was going on, and then began filming with the video camera given to him by B’Tselem. He told B’Tselem:

Zidan Sharabati“I could tell that the argument between the youths and the soldier could develop into a more serious incident, so I got the camera quickly and went back to the window and began filming. The soldier didn’t notice I was filming. The soldier ordered the youths to stand by the wall under the awning above one of the doors of the closed shops, across from the checkpoint.”


Sharabati testified that at this point, his view was obstructed and he could not see what was happening, so he turned off his camera and went outside to the balcony of his house, and continued filming from there:

“Getting out to the balcony took me a few seconds and I don’t know what happened in the meantime between the youths and the soldier. When I reached the balcony, I saw that an officer had come. He seemed upset. The officer asked the soldier: ‘Which one of them?’ and the soldier pointed to one of the youths. The officer began assaulting him.”

Ghanam told B’Tselem what happened next:

“The officer pushed me against the wall where we had been standing, across from the checkpoint. He grabbed my neck and tried to punch me in the face with his other hand, but I grabbed his hand. Then he pulled me into the street. He shouted at me and then head-butted me in the nose. My nose started bleeding. Then the soldier pulled me by my shoulder, and led me toward the wall at the side of the street and told me to sit on the ground. He tried to force me down using his foot to overbalance me. The officer grabbed me again by the neck. He was annoyed, and I tried to get out of his grip. I managed to get free, and began walking toward the Bab a-Zawiya checkpoint down the street. The officer came after me. At the same time, a few other soldiers reached the Bab a-Zawiya checkpoint. The officer and the other soldiers forced me to kneel and handcuffed me. Then they blindfolded me.”

The videographer, Zidan Sharabati, said that when he saw the officer leading the youth in handcuffs toward the Bab a-Zawiya checkpoint, he left his house and continued filming events in the street:

“I turned the camera on again and filmed the youth with his hands cuffed behind his back and the officer holding him by the arm and leading him. I followed the youth and the soldiers. A settler passing by in his car stopped alongside the soldiers. When he saw me filming, he turned to the soldiers and said something. I think he asked them why they were letting me film. One of the soldiers came over and told me to stop filming. He began pushing the camera and threatening me with his weapon. I lowered the camera, but did not turn it off. I went up on the roof of my house and continued filming from there.”

Ghanam was led by the soldiers to the nearby military base on Shuhada Street still handcuffed and blindfolded. He was put into a room at the base and after about half an hour’s wait, a policeman arrived. Ghanam says:

“The policeman wiped the blood off my face and took me out of the room. He took off my blindfold and told me to get into the police Jeep. The Jeep took me and dropped me off near the Bab a-Zawiya checkpoint. A few guys who were there took me to their house in Tel Rumeida and gave me first aid. Then one of them drove me home.”

After Ghanam returned home, his father took him to the Alia government hospital in Hebron, where he was examined and found to have a broken nose and a bruised right shoulder.

The day after the incident, B’Tselem released the video documentation to the media. That same evening, the Military Advocate General’s web site announced that MAG had directed the MPIU to open an investigation into the incident. On 28 July 2012, the MPIU investigators took testimony from Thair Ghanam and videographer Zidan Sharabati.