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From the field

Ramallah: IDF soliders arrest and beat Palestinian man, June 2002

Amjad Abu Sha'aban, beating victim, aged 21

On Monday, June 10, 02, I was working at the Fanun supermarket in the al-Masyun neighborhood. Around 1:30 AM, I left work because I heard that the Israeli army was amassing forces in order to invade the city. I didn't go to my house, near the northern entrance to Al Bira, because I was afraid I would run into the Israeli army. Instead, I went to my friends' apartment in the 'Ein Misbah neighborhood. They leave in the al-Bastami building, near the police station. The friends who live in the apartment are 25-year-old Muhammad al-'Aidi who works at the police, 23-year-old Khaled Safi who works in an aid agency and the Jamzu brothers - Hani and Khaled. They are Jordanian citizens. 29-year-old Hani has an advertising agency and 25-year-old Khaled works with him. Muhamad al-'Aidi and Khaled Safi study with me at the al-Quds open university.

At around 2:30 AM, Khaled Safi and I were awake. I heard movement around the building. I looked out the window and saw a large group of Israeli soldiers with trucks, tanks, jeeps and a military ambulance. There were about ten vehicles all together. More than fifty soldiers surrounded the building from various directions. About five to ten minutes later, I heard the building's back door, which leads to the apartment, being taken off its hinges. Khaled opened the apartment door, so that the soldiers wouldn't break it. I was standing behind him. About tweleve soldiers entered the apartment and started beating me and Khaled with the butts of their guns. They ordered us: "Sit. Put your hands up. Don't move." We sat in the middle of the apartment, in the living room. The soldiers gathered the rest of my friends and sat us down on the floor with our hands over our heads.

After this, I saw soldiers going into all the rooms of the apartment and searching. They tossed furniture around and made a mess of the apartment. A soldier who spoke Arabic with a Lebanese accent and asked us: "Which one of you is Majed?" I understood he was looking for a wanted person called Majed. No one answered him. When he looked at our ID cards, he asked: "Which one of you is Amjad?" I told him it was me. He asked: "Why are you lying to me?" I said: "I'm not lying. My name is Amjad, not Majed." The soldier said: "You're in Tanzim, and we came for you." He added: "I asked for Majed so that you would say your name is Amjad." He took me aside, cuffed my hands behind my back with plastic cuffs and put a bag over my head. I felt pain and nausea and my nose was bleeding from a blow to my head from a butt of a gun. I was put in an army vehicle which drove me somewhere not far away. When I was brought out of the car, the bag was taken off my head and I found myself in front of one of the buildings near the Mukata'a in Ramallah, on the east side. It was around 4:00 AM.

There were a lot of soldiers and army vehicles in the building. It must have been turned into an Israeli army post. They sat me down on the ground in front of the building. I was forced to sit on my knees with my head facing down. The soldiers started accusing me of belonging to Fath Tanzim and four of them began kicking me, beating me with the butts of their guns and punching me. They also used coarse language. They spat in my face. Once in a while, a soldier who passed by would join the four and beat me as well. I felt a lot of blood coming out of my mouth and nose. I was nauseous and I fainted.

When I woke up, about two and a half hours later, I found myself at the Beit El army camp. I don't know how I got there, but one of the soldiers told me where I was. I was in a bad state. My hands were tied behind my back. They had swollen because the cuffs were very tight. My head was heavy and I was nauseous. They put me in the yard and six soldiers watched me. At around eleven (I could tell what time it was because of the sun), about an hour after I woke up, I saw the soldiers bring the others who were in the apartment. They put them next to me. Their hands and faces were red. Their hands were tied behind their backs and they were blindfolded. Half an hour later, the soldiers put a bag over my head and put my friends and me on a truck. After an hour and a half long ride, the truck stopped. The soldiers took the bag off and got me off the truck. My friends were taken off the truck as well, and their blindfolds were removed. The soldiers sat us down on the ground. We were at Ofer camp, south of Beitunia.

About five minutes after we got to the camp, someone called my name. The soldiers put a bag on my head again, and I was taken to one of the rooms in the camp. When I was inside, they took the bag off and I saw two investigators. They asked me questions and said: "You belong to Fath. You took part in shootings and you know who is shooting." During the investigation, they kicked me and beat me all over my body, especially the back of the head and the neck. The investigation went on for about an hour and a half. I was beaten the whole time.

I begged them. I said I was Amjad and not Majed, but they didn't believe me. I told them to check my ID, but they ignored me. I was nauseous because of the beatings, and fainted. I woke up in the evening, still feeling nauseous. I couldn't move. My hands were tied. I could make out that my friends were held near me in the yard.

During the night, we were put in a large army truck. The bag was put on my head again. The truck drove to the Qalandyia checkpoint. At the checkpoint, the cuffs, the bag and my friends' blindfolds were taken off, and we were released. Everyone was released except Khaled Jamzu. When I got to the checkpoint, I fainted. I woke up later at the medical center in the Al Jalazun refugee camp. I was still nauseous and too weak to move. I don't know when I woke up at Al Jalazun and on what day. I lost consciousness again. When I woke up again, on Sunday, June 16, 02, I realized I was at Sheikh a-Zayid hospital in Ramallah. I was told I was transferred there on Thursday, June 13, after the Israeli army left Ramallah. When I woke up, I was feeling better and the doctors told me that I had had a concussion. Some of the cells in the cerebellum were destroyed because of a lack of oxygen. My left hand and leg tremble every ten to fifteen minutes for a few minutes. This happens every day. The doctors told me that this will go on for quite some time. Today, I am receiving treatment at the hospital.

Amjad Muhammad Shehadeh Abu Sha'aban, is 21 years old , single, a student and laborer, and a resident of Al Bira. The testimony was given to Iyad Khadad in Sheikh a-Zayid Hospital in Ramallah, June 18, 2002