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From the field

A-Ram Checkpoint: Border Police officers beat two brothers, November 2002

Usama Abu Safiya, victim, aged 23

On 6 or 7 November, border police officers at the a-Ram checkpoint confiscated my ID card. On the day this happened, I had arrived at the checkpoint and tried to go around it without the officers seeing me because I wanted to go to Jerusalem, but I didn't have a permit. The officers caught me, took my ID card, and detained me. After they had detained me for two hours, I decided to leave the checkpoint without my ID. Since then, I've asked about my ID three times.

The third time I went to the checkpoint was on 17 November, at around 7:30 A.M. I'm a day laborer and I look for my daily work at the a-Ram area every day. My cousins, Bassem Zahran Abu Safiya, age 28 and his brother Yusef , age 26, work with me and they came to the checkpoint with me.

When we got to the checkpoint, my cousins waited by the side of the road, and I went to a border police officer who was standing in the middle of the road checking the ID cards of those who wanted to pass. I asked him about my ID card and he said that he would look into it. He ordered me to stand aside, and called my cousins . The officer was tall, light skinned, blond, of medium built, and seemed about 25 years old. When my cousins approached him he demanded their IDs. The officer then handed the IDs to another, short, officer. Later on, I heard other officers address him as '‘Miki'. Miki took the three of us to a booth which belongs to the police officers on the side of the road. In the booth, Miki handed the IDs to a third officer. This officer took the IDs and then pushed us into a narrow passageway, about 50 centimeters wide, between the booth and a a concrete wall. The soldier was swearing at us as he was shoving us towards the passageway. I asked him not to swear at us, because we are people just like him. He continued swearing at us and then he took us behind the concrete wall, a place which can not be seen from the road. He and Miki started to beat us. They punched me in the face and stomach. They slapped me in the face about seven times. As they were beating me, Miki said: '“don't play the big man with me'”. I told him I wasn't . When they finished beating me they took me back to the passageway.

After they had taken me back to the room, they took my cousin, Bassem, behind the fence. They demanded that I and my cousin, Yusef, leave the checkpoint area and return home. We left the checkpoint, but we stayed in the area, about twenty meters from the checkpoint, to wait for Bassem. Bassem and I talked to each other on our cellphones, and he told me that he wanted to file a complaint against the officerst who had abused him. After about half an hour, I saw an Israeli border police commander arriving. I went up to him to complain about what had happened to us. The commander asked us if we had put up resistance when the officers tried to search us and I said we hadn't. The commander told me: '“your cousin and the officers are going to the police station. I don't know what's going to happen'”. I returned to the place where I had been standing previously, to wait for Bassem.

Bassem called me at about 13:30 in the afternoon. I was still waiting for him at the checkpoint. He asked me to bring an Israeli citizen to post bail for him so that he could get out of the police station at Neve Ya'akov. I called a friend of mine, Suna, and she went with me to the police station. Bassem was released on probation pending trial. After his release he showed me the marks that the beatings had left on his body. He had red marks on his head, back and chest. I took him to a clinic at Kharbatha al-Misbah. The doctor that examined him, Dr. '‘Ala, advised him to go to the hospital for further treatment and to get x-rays done. Then we went back home.

Usama Hasan Muhammad Abu Safiya, is 23 years old . He is married and works as a laborer. He is a resident of Beit Sira, Ramallah district. The testimony was taken by Iyad Khadad on November 18, 2002.