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From the field

Nablus: Border Police officers abuse teenager and assult two journalists, January 2003

Samer a-Sharif, victim, resident of Nablus ,age 21

I live in the Khilat al-'Amoud neighborhood in Nablus. Yesterday, after the city had been under curfew for four days, I decided to leave the house to buy bread. I had heard that there was a store close by that was accessible via the back door.

I left the house around 11:30 A.M. and after about thirty meters I came across a Border Police jeep that was patrolling the streets. I ran away from it, entered one of the houses and went up to the roof. I decided to run and hide because I figured that the officers wouldn't accept my explanation as to why I had left the house during curfew. I had also heard that they could be very violent.

Evidently, one of the officers saw me and went after me up to the roof. He stood on the roof about ten meters from me, pointed his rifle at me and said: "You, come over here!" I went to him and he said: "You know what? I'm angry with you, so today you'll see something that you've never seen before ". I had never seen this officer before and I couldn't understand why he was picking on me. He spoke Arabic fluently. He was probably Druze.

He grabbed me by the shirt from behind and took me downstairs. When we got to the jeep, he ordered me to sit on its' hood and hold on to the protective screen over the wind shield. Then he made a youth, whom they had obviously picked up before, get out of the jeep. I didn't know him. He seemed to me to be about sixteen years old. The officers ordered him to sit on the hood next to me.

The jeep took off at a high speed, then suddenly stopped. Again the jeep took of at high speed and again suddenly stopped. The officers repeated this routine four or five times. Every time they spotted a group of youths throwing stones, they headed in their direction with us sitting on the hood. I was afraid that I might fall off. Every time they stopped the jeep they made us get off, beat us, and then made us get on the hood again.

This went on for about half an hour until the officers spotted some journalists whom I didn't know. They drove towards them very quickly, beat them and told them to leave the scene as quickly as possible. Afterwards, the officers made us get off the hood, beat us up again, and made us get into the jeep.

They took us to the Bassam a-Shak'a High School, which is on Faisal Street, next to Josheph's tomb. They made us go inside. The school was deserted. They kicked us and beat us with the butts of their rifles. They ordered the second youth, whose name I don't know to walk back home. They didn't let me go until 02:00 P.M. They beat me the entire time I was there. At 02:00 P.M., they told me to go to the old city of Balata, a distance of about half a kilometer from the school, walk through the neighborhoods, tell youths who throw stones about the beating I got and warn them that if they threw stones they would meet the same fate. Then they let me go. Before they let me go, they told me that they would watch me until I went into Balata.

I walked about 200 meters and then fainted. I regained consciousness when the ambulance arrived and took me to the Rafidiya hospital in Nablus. I was told that people had seen me from their windows and that they had called for an ambulance. I was hospitalized with hemorrhages all over my body. Now, having received treatment, I feel better.

Samer Kamal Sami a-Sharif, is 21 years old He is single and unemployed. Samer is a resident of Nablus. The testimony was taken by 'Ali Daraghmeh at the Rafidiya hospital in Nablus, on 22 January, 2003.