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IDF soldiers beat six Palestinians at Sarra Checkpoint, December 2003

Fawaz Turabi, one of the victims, age 32, resident of Sarra, Nablus District.

Muhammad Nasser

The day before yesterday [Tuesday, 30 December], at around 2:15 P.M., I left my sister's house in Jit and walked toward the Sarra checkpoint on my way home. At the intersection on the main road, before I reached the checkpoint, I saw an army jeep with four soldiers inside. When I was about fifteen meters from the jeep, a soldier sitting in the back of the jeep shouted to me in Hebrew, "Stop." He ordered me to lift up my shirt, lower my pants, and then raise my hands. After I did as ordered, he told me to get dressed and go over to him. They demanded my ID card. I gave it to the commander, and saw him punch my ID number into a device he had in the jeep. About ten minutes later, the driver called to me and said, "You can't pass."

I took my ID and began to walk over the hills to get to Sarra. I walked with five other guys whom the soldiers had turned back. Four of them were from Jit, and the other from Sebastia. Suddenly, we heard shots and a voice call out in Arabic, "Stop, stop." I looked over where the shots came from and saw two soldiers. We walked over to them, and when we were around seven or eight meters from them, one of the soldiers said to us in Hebrew, "Stand in a line, come over to us one after the other, and lift up your clothes."
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The soldier took our ID cards and read out our identification numbers into his walkie-talkie. He then put our IDs into his pocket and told us, "Sit down here." Then the soldier said into the walkie-talkie, "We are coming down to the road." We went with the two soldiers. When we got to the road, I saw a jeep. There was one soldier in the jeep, the driver. The two soldiers got into the jeep, and one of them said to us, "Follow us to the Sarra checkpoint." The jeep drove about 200 meters and we walked behind it. The jeep stopped and one of the soldiers separated the ID cards of the guys from Jit from my ID and that of the guy from Sebastia. He checked the IDs of the men from Jit, gave them their cards and told them, "Go back to your village." To me and the guy from Sebastia, he said, "Go to the Sarra checkpoint."
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We walked along the road to the checkpoint, which was at the entrance to the village. We reached the checkpoint at 4:20 P.M. Two soldiers were at the checkpoint. They were standing in the middle of the road, near the concrete blocks. One of them was blond. He said, "All right. Very good." Then he asked, "Where are your ID cards?" We told him that the soldier in the jeep had them. The jeep arrived and the blond soldier asked the soldier in the jeep, "Where are the ID cards?" The soldier said that he had them. The blond soldier asked us for our cellular phones and told us to sit down. He went into a shed that contains the main valve to control the water flow to the village. The jeep left. The soldier came out with a glow-stick and hit us in the legs with it. He asked, "Where did they find you?" He called to the second soldier, "Come over and help me."
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The second soldier put his rifle on the concrete block and ordered the soldier who was at the observation post to give him the stick. The blond soldier did not lower his rifle. The third soldier threw a black plastic stick to the second soldier. The stick fell, and the soldier picked it up and used it to him me in the left thigh. He said to me, "You are lying to us." I told him that I was not lying, and that I had told everything to the soldier who caught us. The soldier replied, "Don't say anything. Keep your mouth shut," and continued to hit me with the stick. The blond soldier beat the guy from Sebastia. The soldier who hit me told the blond soldier that I was lying to him. The blond soldier said that the guy from Sebastia was also lying.
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While the soldiers were beating us, a family - a husband, wife, and child - came from the direction of Nablus. The blond soldier told the man to go back. The man told the soldier that he had a permit, and waved it for the soldier to see. He went up to the soldier, and the soldier grabbed his chin and told him in Hebrew: "If you don't go back, I'll tie you up here." The man turned around and went back, and the two soldiers started hitting us again. A few minutes later, an elderly woman, three young women, and a small child came to the checkpoint. The elderly woman wanted to cross, but the blond soldier blocked her way, and told her in Hebrew that if she didn't leave, he would beat her. She apparently understood him, because she turned around and walked away with the young women and the child. As for us, the soldiers let up a bit with the beating.
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A Mitsubishi van pulled up to the checkpoint. A fellow named Abu Ramzi was inside. He wanted to transfer merchandise to an Israeli vehicle that had arrived from the western side of the checkpoint. While he unloaded the merchandise and put it into the Israeli vehicle, the soldier who had beaten me came over to us and said, "Don't say a word." After the goods were transferred to the Israeli vehicle, Abu Ramzi wanted to leave. One of the soldiers told him to come over to them. Abu Ramzi went over to the soldiers, and I heard one of the soldiers say, "Why are you in contact with a Jew? I told you to get away from here before, and now you come with a Jew."
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The soldier took his ID card and told him in Hebrew, "You playing games with me? You called a Jew to come and take the merchandise." Abu Ramzi said that the Jew called him. The soldier grabbed him by the neck: "You are lying," he said and ordered him to sit on the ground. It was already dark. About fifteen minutes later, the soldier who hit me called us and Abu Ramzi and ordered us to stand next to the concrete block in the middle of the road. The other soldier brought him plastic handcuffs. The soldier ordered us to stand around the block. He then cuffed us to each other. He cuffed my right hand to Abu Ramzi's hand and my left hand to the hand of the fellow from Sebastia. The soldier cuffed Abu Ramzi and the fellow from Sebastia to the iron loops on the concrete blocks.
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The soldier told us, "You will stay here for two hours." The soldiers went to a tent that was on higher ground near the checkpoint, and only one soldier stayed on lookout.
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It was very cold. We were standing there, talking to each other. Abu Ramzi told us that everything was going to be all right, and that we just have to be careful and not do anything stupid, so that the soldiers don't beat us again. After more than a half hour passed, the soldiers came out of the tent. One of them fired six or seven shots over our heads. They were around twenty meters from us. Then they threw a stun grenade that fell next to the concrete block. Abu Ramzi said that fragments from the grenade hit him.
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The blond soldier came over to us and told us in Hebrew, "This is the first and last time that you cross here." As he was talking to us, a jeep arrived at the checkpoint and the soldier who had caught us in the hills got out. He spoke with the blond soldier, took a knife from the jeep, and cut the handcuffs. He told us: "Here are your ID cards and cellular phones. Go home." The guy from Sebastia told the blond soldier that he wanted to go home, but that he has to get to Nablus because he is a student, but that he did not know how to get there at such a late hour. The soldier said, "Go wherever you want." The soldiers let him cross so that he could go to Nablus.
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Abu Ramzi drove me home. My wife was very worried, and told me that she had tried to call me, but that my mobile phone was turned off. The beating left bruises over my whole body.

Fawaz Turabi, age 32, is married with three children and is a resident of Sarra, Nablus District. The testimony was taken by Ataf Abu a-Rob on 1 January 2004.