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From the field

Hebron: IDF soldiers harass school principal, October 2002

J'afar Wazuz, age 47, school principal, Hebron

I am the principal of a primary school for boys in Hebron. The school is in area H2, about 500 meters south of the Tomb of the Patriarchs. There are 390 students in the school, aged between 13 and 16, and 20 teachers.

On Wednesday, October 23, 2002, at about 10:30 A.M., while the students were in class, I stood in the schoolyard. A Border Police jeep stopped across from the school, and an officer got out onto the roof of the jeep, and threw a percussion grenade near me. I jumped and backed away from the grenade and turned to the gate of the school to open it. Two officers entered the school grounds and one of them forced my out to the street by grabbing by my left arm. He said he would show me the stones that the students had thrown at the jeep. I explained to him that the students were in class and added that it maybe have been the evening students who had thrown the stones. That same minute, tens of evening students were walking in the street towards the school. They were younger than 12 years old. I told the officer that if the soldiers and border police officers didn't come to the street and approach the school, then the conflicts between the students and the army would decrease. The border police officers did not appreciate my statements, and they threatened to close the school if the students threw stones again. Eventually, they left the area. The grenade which had been thrown frightened some students who started to scream. When the border police officers left the area, the teachers calmed the students.

This wasn't the first time that the soldiers harassed me. A month ago, border police officers that stood in the road called to me. One of them punched me in the chest. He claimed that I was responsible for the students throwing stones at the arm.

J'afar Yusef Isma'il Wazuz, age 47, is married and the father of four. He works as school principal and lives in Hebron. The testimony was taken by Musa Abu Hashhash, at the school, on October 24, 2002.