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From the field

Beit Furik: IDF soldiers beat Muhammad Hanani and bury him under dirt and stones, September 2003

'Abd a-Latif Hanani, father of victim, age 61, resident of Beit Furik, Nablus District

I live in the village of Beit Furik, located about seven kilometers east of Nalubs. I work as a painter in the village. My sons live at home with me, except for two who are married and live in their own homes. My house is two stories tall and each floor is 150 cubic meter. My son Nidal has been imprisoned in an Israeli jail for 15 month. He is serving a 33 months sentence. My son Bashar, age 27, has been wanted by the Israeli army for about two years. Israeli soldiers came to our house about twenty times, looking for Bashar. Every time they come, they order us to go out of the house and they search it meticulously. I haven't seen Bashar for two years, and still the Israeli army comes to our house and harasses us all the time.

One of those times, an Israeli officer told me they were going to demolish my house. About three months ago, I took most of the furniture out of the house and left it with the neighbors. I was afraid the army would demolish the house with all the furniture in it, like the Israeli officer told me they would. I left some furniture and kitchen supplies in the house. About a month ago, I brought all the furniture back because we cannot live without furniture.

On Saturday, 6 September 2003, at about 4 PM, I was at home with my family. My son, Muhammad, who is 18 years old, went out to buy cigarettes at the grocery store near our house. After a few minutes, Muhammad ran into the house with soldiers chasing after him. Muhammad later told me that when he came out of the house, he saw an army jeep parked in front of the house, with four soldiers in it. We didn't know the jeep was out there. Muhammad told me that the soldiers called him over and asked him if he knew who had thrown stones. He couldn't answer their question, and the soldiers beat him and then he ran into the house.

Muhammad came inside and I told him to come talk to the soldiers with me and find out what had happened. We were going out to the yard and when we reached the door the three soldiers started beating him. They beat him in front of my eyes. One of them hit Muhammad with the butt of his rifle on the back of his neck. Afterwards, they grabbed him by his cloths and dragged him to the jeep, which was standing about five meters from the entrance to the house. I saw one of the soldiers, who was wearing a helmet, butt Muhammad in his head. I pleaded with one of the soldiers, who seemed to be the commander, and said to him: "Please, Muhammad has done nothing. He didn't break the law. Talk to the soldiers so they will stop beating my son". I thought he was the commander because he had an insignia with three stripes on his shoulder. Muhammad was yelling in pain and he called to me: "Please Dad, help me." I grabbed the commander's hand and begged him, but he did nothing. I think he is heartless. I pleaded with him for about fifteen minutes while the soldiers were beating my son in front of my eyes, but he ignored my request.

Two of the soldiers grabbed Muhammad, and threw him into the back of the jeep. They kept on beating him. The commander, who was sitting next to the driver, didn't beat Muhammad. The four soldiers were wearing helmets, had fair skin and were heavy set. The commander was short, about 160 centimeters tall. The jeep left the village and drove towards the army checkpoint. I went back in the house. I was feeling angry and frustrated because there was nothing I could do. They beat my son in front of my eyes for no reason. I'd rather have him shot than see him beaten so hard. The soldiers hurt him and caused him terrible suffering. They didn't care that he was a young man. They ignored my request to leave him alone and didn't stop beating him. He cried and yelled the whole time.

I sat at home and didn't know what to do. About forty minutes later, Muhammad came back in the car of one of the village residents who drove him home when the soldier left him. The driver told me that Muhammad had been about one kilometer from our home. Muhammad appeared to be in a bad physical and mental state. He told me that the soldiers piled a lot of dirt and stones on top of him and tried to bury him. He said they tortured and frightened him. When Muhammad came home, we called the village doctor, Dr. Yunes Mahmoud, who examined and treated him. Muhammad had bruises, but no open wounds. He rested at home for three days.

'Abd a-Latif 'Aref 'Abdallah Hanani, age 61,is married and the father of eleven. He works as a painter, and is a resident of Beit Furik, Nablus District. The testimony was taken by 'Ali Daraghma, at the witness' home, on 13 September, 2003.