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From the field

Hebron: Border police officers beat two Palestinians, October 2002

Izlikha al-Muhtaseb, translator for CPT, victim, aged 40

I live close to the Tomb of the Patriarchs and work as a translator for the CPT. On Tuesday, 25 October, around 6:30 A.M, I went up to my roof to water the plants. I saw a large number of border police officers stationed on the roofs of three or four of the neighboring houses. I saw that the Tomb of the Patriarchs was open and figured that there was probably some religious event going on. I saw Jewish people gathering in the area. Three border police officers were standing at the passageway leading from the al-Muhtasibin neighborhood to the area of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, blocking the way of those residents who wanted to leave the neighborhood.

At around noon, I heard noise and shouting on the street below my house. I looked through the window and saw three or four border police officers shoving two or three youths. They were in front of my house. Among the youths I could recognize Shawki Maswadeh, 20, and Ahmad al-Muhtaseb who is a relative of mine. After about a minute some of the youths fled into my building and two of the police officers that had harassed them chased them into the courtyard of the house.

I went into the courtyard and saw Ahmad al-Muhtaseb and my fourteen year old cousin Firas al-Muhtaseb. When I saw them I asked the officers: "What is going on and why are you here?". One of the officers cocked his gun, aimed it at my chest, and said in Hebrew: "Shut up". The second officer took his M16 rifle and aimed it at Ahmad's head. I asked the officer: "Why should I shut up and why are you doing this?". The second officer kicked Ahmad in the stomach. Ahmad put his hand on his stomach and complained about the pain. I yelled at the officer: "Why did you kick him? He didn't do anything". The officer hit Ahmad on the head with the butt of his rifle and tried to drag him away.

I tried to help Ahmad. I held onto him and demanded that the officer let go. I said: "He is my son". I put my arms around Ahmad's head to protect him from the officer's blows. They continued hitting him and trying to drag him into the street. They pulled at him from one side and I pulled from the other. The officers punched me on the right shoulder, head and back. They did not succeed in freeing Ahmad from my grasp. One of them called a third officer who got there right away. He, too, started hitting Ahmad and me.

Eventually the three officers succeeded in freeing Ahmad from my grasp and dragged him into the street. I went after them. When I got to the street I saw many border police officers in front of the Tomb of the Patriarchs. They arrested Ahmad and the other two youths, 'Omar al-Muhtaseb and his brother Midhat. The police officers took them to the police station near the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

I went to the police station immediately to file a complaint against the officers that had broken into my home and beaten me. The youths were no longer there .The commander on duty told me that I could not file a complaint at that police station and that I had to go to the police station in Kiryat Arba.

I went to the police station in Kiryat Arba with two people from CPT who where in the area when everything happened. I got to the station at around 1:00 P.M and informed the officer at the gate that I wanted to file a complaint against the border police officers. The officer called somebody and then told me to wait because the investigator was busy. We waited until 3:00 P.M. While we were waiting, the CTP representatives called several times to find out what was going on. They were told that the investigator was busy each time.

I was very tired and decided to go home and then to the hospital for a checkup. On the way home I met a commander from the border police by the name of Nur Fares, and I told him what had happened. He promised to help me get to the police station and file a complaint after I returned from the hospital. When I got home, I fainted. The neighbors called an ambulance, which took me to the 'Aliah hospital in Hebron. I received treatment and was released around 7:30 P.M.

On Monday, 28 October, I once again went to the police station in Kiryat Arba and after a long waiting period I was shown into the office and filed the complaint. The investigator I spoke with was 'Awni Zahalka.

Izlikha Muhammed Qassem 'Omar al-Muhtaseb, age 40, is single. He translator for the Christian Peackmakers Team (CPT) and is a resident of Hebron, area H2. The Testimony was given to by Musa Abu Hashhash, at the CPT office, in Hebron.