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From the field

Hebron: IDF soliders beat snack bar owner Isma'il al-'Izza, January 2003

Isma'il al-'Izza, age 21, resident of al-Fawwar refugee camp in the Hebron district.

I live with my family in the al-Fawwar refugee camp, which is about seven kilometers south of Hebron. Our house is about 150 meters from the al-Fawwar junction. There are dirt roadblocks at the entrance to the refugee camp. I have a little snack stand on the road near my house. I sell cola, cigarettes, cookies, and sandwiches. Occasionally, whether during the day or night, Israeli soldiers leave their positions at the junction, and come into the camp. They stand near my snack stand, and prevent passers-by from continuing on their way. They shoot at children who curse them or throw stones. />

When the soldiers, usually there's three, stand next to my stand, one of them comes in and demands cola and biscuits for him and his colleagues. He takes the merchandise and leaves without paying. This has happened more than ten times in the past month.

The first time it happened, in the beginning of January, soldiers arrived at the stand at about 6:00 A.M. and took cola and biscuits. I asked them to pay and they refused. So, I refused to give it to them. One of the soldiers threatened to send me to jail if I didn't give him what he wanted. I stood by my refusal and he demanded that I go with him. The three soldiers led me to a vineyard, about 300 meters from the stand. They ordered me to stand next to the fence that separates the field from the path. The soldier stood next to the fence behind me and suddenly hit me on the back of the head with the butt of his gun. I fell on the ground and couldn't remember what happened next. Later, the owner of the field, of the Abu Ghalion family, told me that he saw me, lying unconscious on the ground. He said he told my family. My brothers, Hassan, 42, and Khalil, age 38, came to the field immediately. It was 8:00, two hours after I had fainted. They took me to the hospital. When we arrived at the hospital, I woke up, got treated, and returned home. Since that incident, I've been scared to refuse the soldiers' demands, and I let them take whatever they want.

On Thursday, 30.1.03, at 7:00 A.M, I opened the snack stand. The soldiers that were at the junction were not letting anyone in or out of the camp. Dozens of civilians, among them students, stood near the snack stand and started screaming at the soldiers. Some threw stones at the junction. An army jeep appeared from behind the roadblock which is about 70 meters from my stand, half way between the stand and the junction. The soldiers that were in the jeep fired at the civilians and children, who quickly ran away from the area.

Three soldiers got out of the jeep and walked over to my stand. One of them told me that I had been throwing stones. I told him that I'm the owner of the snack stand. He ignored what I said, grabbed me by the back of the neck, and led me to the jeep. The soldiers tied my hands from the back and blindfolded me. I felt the jeep was driving in the direction of "al-Majnuneh." - the Adoraim base. When we arrived, the soldiers put me into a structure, which, once the blindfold was removed, I realized was a shipping container. I sat on the floor. I felt that there was a soldier with me inside. Once in a while, he called: "There are Arabs" and someone would come in, hit me on the back and the head, kick me, and leave.

During the time I was in the shipping container, I was hit as a result of the soldier calling out more than twenty times. I was exhausted and had pains all over my body. I asked to go to the bathroom several times, but the soldier refused and said that I could pee in my pants. When the soldiers hit me, I tried to tell them I was the snack stand owner that they know, but they continued to hit me and ordered me to be quiet.

At 5:00 P.M, a soldier arrived and removed my blindfold. He asked me if I was the owner of the snack stand and I said I was. The soldier left me and another soldier removed the handcuffs and asked me if I was Isma'il, and I said yes. At about 6:00 P.M., the soldier ordered me into the army jeep. The jeep took me to the al-Fawwar junction and from there I returned home.

Later, my brother Khalil, informed me that since I had been at the army camp a long time, he went up to one of the soldiers at the al-Fawwar junction and told him that the soldiers had taken me to the camp. My brother asked the soldier to help him get me out and explained that I was the snack stand owner and that I hadn't thrown stones. Apparently the soldier intervened on my behalf. I still suffer from pains in different parts of my body, especially the right leg, on which I have difficulty walking.

Isma'il Ahmad Hassan al-'Izza, was born 1982, and was 21 during the incident. He is single, a snack stand owner, and a resident of the al-Fawwar refugee camp in the Hebron district. The testimony was taken by Musa Abu Hashash at the witness' snack stand on 4 February 2003.