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From the field

Qalandia Checkpoint: Soldiers beat Za'id Zidat, September 2003

Za'id ' Zidat, victim, age 20, resident of Bani Na'im, Hebron District.

I work as a peddler. I sell textile products like bedding. This morning, 21 September, 2003, I left Hebron at about 6:30 AM to go to Ramallah. I bypassed the major roads and got to the Qalandia checkpoint at about 9:00 A.M. On my way, I ran into my friend Wajdi Hani Hmeidat, who is twenty years old. I had eight cardboard boxes with merchandise I planned to sell in Ramallah. I wanted to check if the soldiers were letting people through the checkpoint, so I left the boxes about forty meters away from the checkpoint, on the A-Ram side. I asked Wajdi to stay there and look after the merchandise. I went over to the checkpoint, taking a bag of my personal belongings with me. I carry my things in a bag because I sleep in different places. I crossed the checkpoint without any problem through the lane for those coming from Jerusalem.

I turned around to go back. I went to the place where people who come from the West Bank enter. There were seven soldiers at the checkpoint. Four were checking people and three were guarding. I showed my ID to one of the soldiers, but he told me in Hebrew that I had to show a permit, otherwise I couldn't go through. I told him I was from Hebron and that I couldn't get a permit to enter Ramallah. He said: "That's the way it is, go back where you came from." The soldier looked middle-aged. He had light skin and a white mustache. He was wearing a blue hat and looked like he was in his fifties.

I went back and stood about twenty meters away from the entry point. I was thinking how I could bypass the checkpoint. About half an hour later I decided to walk through the quarry. It is a steep road which bypasses the checkpoint. I got to the Abu Wajiah a-Tarif quarry, which is about fifty meters east of the checkpoint, but the Palestinian guard wouldn't let me through. So I went around the quarry. The guard didn't see me. I walked on a dirt road.

Near the main road between Jaba' and A-Ram, two soldiers stopped me. One was tall and thin. He had fair skin and looked about 25 years old. The other soldier had dark skin. He was short and wore glasses. He looked about 28. One of them had binoculars. The first soldier asked for my ID. They spoke Hebrew between them.

About ten minutes later, two other soldiers came. They had three young Palestinian men with them. One of the soldiers was blond, fair skinned and looked about 26 or 27. The four of us stood to the side. The soldiers made us sit on the ground. They didn't beat us. After about fifteen minutes, one of the soldiers gave us back our IDs and said in a mocking tone that we should find another way to get in. We went back to the Qaladiya checkpoint. I tried to think of a way to contact Wajdi who was waiting with my merchandise on the other side of the checkpoint.

At about noon, I tried to get in again. I went over to the point where people coming from Jerusalem cross towards Ramallah.. The soldiers were busy checking the IDs of those coming in. I thought I'd take advantage of the opportunity and get by without being noticed. A soldier caught me and yelled at me: "Go back! Go back!" I said: "Where am I supposed to go back to? I'm not from around here and I don't know anybody here." The soldier said: "I don't give a damn." He pushed me and hit me on the back and shoulder. He was thin, blond and freckled. He looked about 22 years old. Another soldier joined him and they both beat me and pushed me. They pushed me a distance of about fifteen meters, until I fell. I tried to get them off me. When I fell, they went back and stood under the awning. The other soldier was tall. He had dark skin and looked about 24.

I don't know what to do. They won't let me get my merchandise in and I can't go back to Hebron. You can get in through the checkpoint, but to leave you have to have a special permit.

Za'id ' Zidat, age 20, he is single, works as a peddler and is a resident of Bani Na'im, Hebron District. The testimony was taken by Iyad Hadad at the Beituniya checkpoint on 21 September, 2003.