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From the field

Surda Checkpoint: IDF soldiers beat Muhammad 'Omar, age 16, September 2003

Muhammad 'Omar, victim, age 16, resident of al-Mazra'a al-Gharbiya, Ramallah district.

Since the beginning of August, I have been working for the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees (UPMRC) in Ramallah. In the framework of my job, I go to the Surda checkpoint with a stretcher, to transport people who are sick across the checkpoint and give first aid to whomever needs it. I transfer sick people between the two ends of the checkpoint. The northern end of the checkpoint is across from the village of Surda and the other end is at the entrance to Ramallah and al-Birah. At each end of the checkpoint there is a dirt roadblock along the entire width of the road.

Palestinian Medical Relief Worker at Surda Checkpoint, 23 September, 2003. Photo: B'Tselem

The two ends of the checkpoint are more than a kilometer from each other. The sick don't pay for this service./>/>/>

On Tuesday 16 September 2003, around 11 AM, I was walking from the roadblock which is across from Surda towards the roadblock at the entrance to Ramallah and al-Birah, after having transferred some sick people. I saw two army jeeps driving on the bypass-road, from Bet-El towards the Dolev settlement. I saw a flyer with a picture of Marwan Barghuti on the ground, I picked it up and put it on the stretcher. I did not do this for any particular reason. Another volunteer, Ahmad Sati, age 16, who works with me in providing medical aid, was about ten meters behind me. He was also pushing a stretcher.

The two jeeps stopped alongside me and six soldiers got out. Ahmad managed to run away in the direction of the checkpoint on the Ramallah side. One of the soldiers approached me. He took the picture, looked at it, and ripped it up. He was short, dark skinned, thin, and looked about twenty years old. The other soldiers were laughing, one of them grabbed my hand and started dragging me towards the rear door of one of the jeeps. He was tall, light skinned, thin, and looked about thirty years old. I tried to resist, but the other soldiers pushed me towards the jeep and made me get in and sit down on the floor. One of the soldiers had black paint on his face. The jeep was traveling on the bypass-road of the Dolev settlement. After about half a kilometer, the two jeeps stopped and the soldiers made me get out. They hit me on the head, on my back and in my face. Six soldiers beat me, including the soldier whose face was painted black and the short one, but not the one with the light skin.

They beat me for about five or six minutes. I tried to protect my head and my face with my hands. One of the soldiers, I don't remember which one, pushed me and I fell down on my back. They kept kicking and beating me for another five minutes. They did not curse at me and didn't talk to me. When they finished beating me, they got into their jeeps and left.

I was lying the ground and my body hurt from the beatings. I got up with difficulty and went back to the area of the checkpoint. At the checkpoint I rested a short while, then went home. That day and the day after I did not go to work, because I still had severe pain in my back. I was badly bruised, but besides that did not sustain other wounds or scratches.

Muhammad Sari Rizq 'Omar is 16 years old . He is single and a resident of al-Mazra'a al-Gharbiya, Ramallah district. The testimony was taken by Iyad Hadad at the Surda checkpoint on 18 September 2003.