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From the field

Checkpoint soldiers beat and humiliate Palestinian workers, May 2002

Fadi Mar'abeh, victim of beating, age 22

There are ten people in my family, and I am the eldest son. My brother Shadi, 20, is a student at a-Najah University, in Nablus, and my six sisters are also in school. The eldest is in the twelfth grade and the youngest is in kindergarten. My mother is a housewife. My father, who is 45, works to support the family. I help, which means that I am unable to attend university. I have worked in Israel since I finished high school in 1998.

Like many others from our village and area, my father and I have continued to work in Israel during the al-Aqsa intifada. To get to work, we have to bypass the checkpoints and ambushes set up by Israeli soldiers. Sometimes we are successful in crossing the border; at other times, we fail and have to return home. Nobody from the villages in the area has been involved in any attack against Israelis.

During the intifada, I have worked at various jobs, mostly in construction. I have worked in Kfar Saba, Petach Tikva, Jajulye, and Elad. The contractors and the Jewish workers help us in selecting the route to work and in misleading the police so that we can get to the construction site. They also help when the police conduct surprise checks at the sites.

For the past month, I have been working at a construction site in Kfar Saba. On Tuesday [28 May] afternoon, three other workers [Faisal Mar'abeh, Walid Mustafa Mar'abeh, and Majid 'Aref Mar'abeh] and I were on our way home after work. Around 6:30 P.M., we were in Jajulye. We saw about five Israeli security forces who were one hundred meters of so away from us. They were wearing black uniforms and were armed. Alongside them were five white vehicles of different types with lights flashing on their roofs. They had stopped a group of eight to ten Palestinian workers. The three fellows I was with and I feared that the security forces would fire at us, so we decided not to run away but to walk straight toward them. As we did, we saw them order the workers to salute. As they saluted, the security forces kicked each of them in the behind. We reached them, stood on the side, and saw what happened.

As far as I recall, the workers who had been caught were Nail, Sufiyan 'Abd a-Latif, Naziya Salameh Shohaneh, Sa'id Husni Mar'abeh from Ras 'Atiya, Bassem Hussein 'Awad Mar'abeh, Hamed Yusuf a-Sh'ar (Maradwey) from Habla, Akram a-Sh'ar from Habla, and Yusuf Murshad from Habla. The soldiers beat all of them, especially Na'il, Sa'id, and Hamed.

One of the Israeli security forces involved in the beatings was dark, about 180 centimeters tall, and had a short, dark beard. Another one was big and tall, maybe 185 centimeters, blond hair, had earrings. Another one of them was dark, short, and thin. The fourth was tall and light-skinned. He held the ID cards that were taken from us. I did not see him beat anybody. I don' t recall if there was a fifth one.

The security forces asked the workers, "Why are you crossing into Israel? Don't you know there is a closure?" The workers replied, "We want to live, to make a living. We know there is a closure, but the need to earn a livelihood is stronger."

One of the security forces asked Na'il Mar'abeh, a relative of mine from Ras 'Atiya, how old he was. Nail replied that he was 26/27 years old. The fellow said, "Answer me in Hebrew and not in Arabic." Na'il responded, "I do not speak Hebrew," and then the fellow punched and kicked him in every possible way all over his body. Na'il fell to the ground and the fellow continued to kick him.

The dark, thin fellow beat me. As he did, he slipped and then got mad at me and blamed me for it, claiming that I had moved. In fact, he slipped because of the weapons he was holding. He beat me and kicked me in my left leg.

The dark fellow with the beard told Sa'id, "Pick out one of them and beat him." When he refused, the fellow ordered Faisal and Sa'id to beat each other. Sa'id slapped Faisal lightly. One of the security forces slapped Faisal hard in the face and said to him, "Now you give Sa'id a slap like that." I don't know who it was because I was still in pain from the beating I had received. Having no choice, Faisal slapped Sa'id hard. The security forces said, "Well done," and ordered Faisal to "give him two more like that." Faisal hit him twice more. Then the security forces ordered Sa'id to hit Faisal in return. He hit Faisal with hard, painful slaps. The security forces ordered them to take turns hitting each other, and they did it. The dark fellow with the beard told me to sit on the ground. He ordered me to raise my hands. He stood above me and told me to look at him. He asked, "Who do you work for?" I answered, "In Jajulye," though I was actually working in Kfar Saba. There is no danger of attacks in Jajulye, and it is less of a concern [to Israelis]. He asked me other questions. While I replied, he kicked me five times in the stomach when it wasn't firm. After each kick, he ordered me to keep my hands up in the air and look at him. In one instance, I told him that I didn't understand the question. He kicked me in the nose, causing it to bleed. Then he left me and went over to Walid and beat him, using the same technique.

He hit Walid really hard. After two blows, the fellow asked him, "No air left, huh?" Walid said that he didn't and begged him, "Please, let me be." He kicked Walid again. Then he went over to Majid and kicked him in the waist. One of the security forces called out to Nail and Sufiyan, who were in the second group, and ordered them to take turns slapping each other.

The blond fellow came over to the four of us, the ones in my group, and asked, "Are you the ones who didn't run away?" We said, "Yes. We are the ones who did not run away." He asked the fellow who was holding the ID cards to give them back to us. He gave us all the ID cards that they had collected. After we looked through them to pick out our cards, the security forces ordered us to leave the area. As we were about to go, another group of workers appeared. There were about ten to twelve of them. One of the security forces ordered Walid, who was in my group, to tell them not to flee because, "It would be bad news for them if they did." Walid called out to them. When we left, we saw the new group of workers reach the area [where the security forces were].

When I got back to my village, I went to Dr. Suliman Nimmer. He examined me and told me to get my nose and leg X-rayed. But Qalqiliya was under curfew and Nablus was far away, so I haven't been able to get the X-ray yet. I was given pills and one shot and am resting at home. I limp now and my leg hurts.

Some of the workers who were with me returned today to Kfar Saba to work.

Testimony of Fadi Muhammad 'Abd al-'Aziz Mar'abeh, 22, single, and a resident of Ras 'Atiya, Qalqiliya District. The testimony was given to Najib Abu Rokaya at Mar'abeh's home on 30 May 2002.

Najib Abu Rokaya adds:

I saw bruises along Fahdi Mar'abeh's left thigh, and his leg was black and blue above his ankle and under his knee./>