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From the field

IDF soldiers in Ramallah beat and humiliate Mohay 'Aarida, November 2002

Mohay 'Aarida, victim, age 36

On Wendesday, 27.11.02, Ramallah was not under curfew and stores were open as usual. I was walking with a friend, Jamal Nimer, age 38, near the Clock Square in Ramallah. At around 11:00 P.M., I saw an army jeep approaching from the direction of Beitunia. The jeep went around the square and returned to the direction from which it had arrived. My friend and I were crossing the street and heading toward the square in order to get to my car. The jeep drove about thirty of forty meters and returned to the square. It circled it again. Then, a voice which came through the loudspeaker demanded, in Arabic, that the storeowners go inside their stores. As the jeep was going around the square, I saw a soldier open the door and yell out to passers by to enter the stores. The people followed the soldiers' instructions.

The jeep finished its circle and drove close to us. A soldier who was inside it called to me. The jeep's door was partly open and the barrel of a rifle was coming out of it. The jeep was only about two meters from us. When my friend tried to approach with me, the soldier said to him, "You, return." He pointed in my direction and signaled for me to approach. I don't know why he chose me and not my friend. I approached the door of the jeep and tried to give my ID card to the driver, but he refused to take it and said, "Go back." When the driver through that I hadn't understood him, he yelled at me and signaled with his hand for me to go back. When I approached the back door, it opened suddenly and a soldier grabbed my right arm. A second soldier grabbed the left shoulder of my jacket. The jeep started moving while the soldiers were trying to pull me inside. I tried to break loose, but they started yelling and tried to drag me into the jeep as it was moving quickly.

The jeep drove in the direction of Beitunia and after having driven for about 100 meters, the soldier who was sitting next to the driver tried to the help the other two soldiers get me inside the jeep. Eventually, despite my attempts to break loose of their hold, they managed to get me inside the jeep. A part of my left leg hung from the back door and the soldiers tried to close the door on it forcefully. My right leg was stuck between the door and the back seat. I felt extreme pain in my leg. After driving for about 500 meters, one of the soldiers noticed my leg and opened the door. I released my leg and the pain was alleviated. The soldiers threw me on my back with my hands folded under my buttocks. There was a tire and a helmet under my back. They ordered me to keep my hands under my back while my body was bent back. One of the soldiers took my ID card, while the other two soldiers continued beating me. One of them put the barrel of his gun to my neck and my forehead. He would occasionally instruct me to close my eyes while the others punched me in the stomach and yelled, "Hamas, Fatah, Tanzim." There were four soldiers inside the jeep and one of them spoke to me in Hebrew: "From today, we don't want anyone on the Manara [a square near the Clock Square, B'Tselem]. I understood what he was saying. He asked me if I understood him but I didn't answer. He hit me on the stomach and I felt sick. I felt like I was going to throw up. The soldier must have noticed, because he didn't hit me as hard.

The jeep continued to drive at about 60 kilometers per hour. After about ten minutes, the two soldiers spread my legs. One of them put the barrel of his gun to my head and the other pointed his to my chest. One told the other: "Now his friend will say the Israeli army arrested him and killed him and he'll be a martyr. They'll call al-Jazeera." They laughed. Every few seconds, one of them hit me and said [in arabic]: "Call out to your God, call out to your God." I did as they told me and said: "There is no god but Allah." The soldiers kept beating me and swearing at me for about twenty or thirty minutes.

Mohay a-Din Muhammad 'Afif 'Aarida, is 36 yaers old. He is married, works as a clerk and lives in al-Balu'a, al-Birah. The testimony was taken by Iyad Khadad at the witness's office on 2 December 2002.