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Jerusalem: Border Police officer beats Hisham Harizat, November 2003

Hisham Harizat, victim, age 27, resident of Yatta, Hebron District

I live in Yatta, which is situated in South Mt. Hebron. Before the current intifada, I worked in Israel as a laborer. Since then, I have not been able to earn a living and support my wife, our four children, and me. From time to time, I go to Jerusalem without a permit to find work, and stay there for three days.

Last Saturday [8 November], I went to Jerusalem with a few relatives of mine to find work. We entered the city via Wadi a-Nar, using bypass roads. The next day, I walked to Musrara [referring to an area on the border between East and West Jerusalem, where Palestinians looking for work gather]. I waited there until 2:00 P.M., but could not find work. The following day, I went back to Musrara and found work in Romema [in West Jerusalem]. Later that day,. I returned to Abu Dis [in East Jerusalem], to an apartment that laborers rent as a place to sleep.

On Tuesday morning, around 6:00, I went to Musrara and waited for someone to come and offer me work. 'Amar Musa Harizat, 19, and Rateb Bahis, 45, were with me, along with another ten or so laborers. Some of them were relatives of mine, and the others were from Yatta. Around 8:00, a green GMC with black windows pulled up. From experience, I knew it was a Border Police vehicle. The laborers dispersed. Some ran and others simply walked away. I left the site, planning to hide behind a truck parked on the road.

From behind the truck, I saw a Border Police officer standing about ten meters from me. He was short, heavy-set, light-skinned, and appeared about thirty years old. He aimed his rifle at me and asked me, in Hebrew: "Why are you running away?" I replied, in Arabic, that I was not running away, but was standing there.

He came over to me, looked around, and asked where I was from. He wanted to see my ID card. I told him that I was from Yatta and handed him my ID. He did not even look at it. He assaulted me, slapping and punching me in the face. He knocked out three of my teeth, and my mouth was bleeding. I saw five or six other police officers standing about twenty meters away. They had apprehended the laborers who were with me. The policeman who assaulted me saw that I was bleeding and that my teeth had been broken. He stopped beating me and took me to where the other fellows were being detained. I wanted to sit down, but he didn't let me. I stood there about ten minutes, until the police finished checking the IDs of the others.

Before the police let us go, they ordered one of the laborers, Salah, who was from Nablus, to translate for the policeman who beat me. The policeman grabbed each of us by the back of the neck, took us to Salah, and ordered him to tell us that if he sees any of us back there again. he would beat us. Salah repeated that to everybody in the group.

The policeman who was in the GMC called out our names and gave us back our ID cards. When he called my name, he threw my card to the ground and told me to get out of there. I took my ID, walked toward the taxi-stand nearby, and rinsed my mouth. A few of the other laborers and I decided to return to Yatta. We got onto the bus going to Bethlehem. When it reached the Gilo checkpoint, the soldiers ordered me, and the ten laborers who were with me, to get off the bus. They checked my ID, and one of them took me to the checkpoint. More than thirty people were standing there. I stood with them, and after about thirty minutes passed, the soldiers let most of us go. They let me and a few others go at about 11:00. After crossing the checkpoint, I took a taxi to get home.

My upper jaw continues to hurt. I have not gone back to Jerusalem to look for work. I do not know if I'll return to Jerusalem any time soon.

Hisham Muhammad Jibril Harizat, age 27, is married with four children. He works as a laborer and is a resident of Yatta, Hebron District. The testimony was taken by Musa Abu Hashhash in Al Fawwar refugee campon 15 November 2003.