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From the field

IDF soldiers beat, imprison and humiliate four Palestinians at Huwwara Checkpoint, May 2003

Nadya Abu Zahar, age 25, resident of Huwwara in the District of Nablus

My family and I live in Huwwara, which is located south of Nablus. I work as a journalist in Nablus.

On Sunday, May 25, 2003 at around 3 PM, I left my office in Nablus to go home to Huwwara.

As I arrived at the checkpoint that separates Huwwara from Nablus, I saw hundreds of Palestinians waiting in line to cross the checkpoint northwards. Dozens of Palestinian trucks were waiting in a long line. The checkpoint was staffed by four male soldiers and one female soldier. One of the soldiers was tall, thin and of fair complexion. He was very inconsistent in the way he treated the people trying to cross the checkpoint. Sometimes he laughed and sometimes he shouted. When I arrived, the soldiers were not letting anyone pass and we all stood behind the red and white plastic barriers.

The tall soldier pushed the plastic barriers towards the waiting citizens. I stood directly behind the barriers and when the soldier pushed them they bumped into me. I shouted at him. He shouted back at me and ordered me to move back, which I did. Then, he shouted at everybody. After that the soldier shouted at a young man, whose face I recognized, who works as a porter at the checkpoint. The soldier shouted at him in Hebrew and the young man answered him in Hebrew. Then I saw the soldier hitting him. The young man tried to fend off the blows.

Two additional soldiers came close to the lad and started to hit him together with the first soldier. After that they handcuffed him and covered his eyes. They continued to beat him and led him into a small concrete room that is usually set up at checkpoints. As the soldier handcuffed him he looked at the people waiting at the checkpoint and laughed. Later, one of the people waiting in line told me that the young man's name is Ahmad 'Ali Muhammad and that he is a resident of the Balata refugee camp.

Over a period of about half an hour the soldiers caught three more Palestinians, beat them and tied their hands. They had the three sit on the ground.

After that, the soldiers let everyone above the age of sixty pass through the checkpoint. Occasionally, the soldiers hit Ahmad and the other young men. I saw them hitting the young men several times.

After that, I saw the soldiers demanding that the three young men stand up and sing. I saw the three of them dance and sing several times. The fourth time, the youngsters stood up and sang a nationalistic song. The soldiers clapped their hands. After that, I heard the soldiers ordering the three to sing a song by an Israeli singer called Zehava. The young men said that they do not know any of her songs.

The tall soldier came near the people waiting to cross the checkpoint and asked who was a teacher. The teachers came forward and he pushed them and told them that they could pass through.

I waited at the checkpoint until about 6 PM and then decided to go back to Nablus, because the soldiers were not letting people pass. When I left, the three youngsters were still handcuffed with their eyes covered and Ahmad was still inside the building.

Nadya Ibrahim Salim Abu Zahar is 25 years old, single, a journalist, and a resident of Huwwara in the District of Nablus. The testimony was given to 'Ali Daragmeh in Nablus on 26 May 2003.