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From the field

IDF soldiers beat Palestinian and fire next to his head at Sarra Checkpoint, December 2003

M.T., age 26 (Full name on file at B'Tselem).

At noon last Tuesday [30 December], I arrived at the Sarra checkpoint. One of the soldiers told me to stop. He was around 1.75 meters tall, light-skinned, and had light-brown or green eyes. He was wearing a blue turtleneck shirt under a jacket. He spoke to me in Hebrew, which I do not understand very well. He asked me, "Where are you going?" I told him that I was going home to Sarra. He told me that crossing was not allowed at the moment, and that I should go back where I came from. I told him, "Where am I supposed to go?" He asked me where I had come from. I told him I had been at work all month in Ramallah, and did not know that I could not enter Sarra. The soldier responded, "Go back to Ramallah and sleep there for another month. Don't talk to me anymore." I replied that I can't return to Ramallah, because I would not be allowed to cross the ImmatinAmatinImmatin checkpoint.

The soldier came over to me and hit me in the chest with his rifle. I tried to defend my chest and face with my hands. The soldier shouted, "What are you doing touching my weapon?" and continued to hit me with his rifle. He aimed his blows at my face, but I defended myself with my hands and by moving my head.

Another soldier came out of a structure that was nearby. He was taller than the first soldier, dark-skinned and thin. He ran over to me and both of them beat me with their rifle butts. The second soldier hit me in the left leg a few times. I gave my ID card to the shorter soldiers and said, "Look, its says that I am from Sarra." The taller soldier hit my hand with his rifle and my ID fell to the ground. He said, "I don't want to see it."

The taller soldier put his rifle barrel around five centimeters above my head and fired. I felt the bullet whiz by my hair and smelled the smoke. It really frightened me. For a moment, I thought that he would shoot me. I even thought that he had already shot me, and that that was how it feels to die.

When I recovered from the shock, I began to run, and one of the soldiers threw my ID card at me. I looked back and saw that it had fallen into the mud. I picked it up and continued running toward the gate. When I was about twenty meters from the soldiers, I checked the ID card and saw that my driver's license and bank card, which were inside the cover of the ID, had fallen out. I thought about going to the checkpoint to take them, but I was afraid. After debating what I should do, I decided to go back to the checkpoint to look for the missing items.

At the checkpoint, an Ethiopian soldier was standing near the observation post. He asked me, "Why did you come back?" I told him that documents had fallen out and I had come to look for them. He said, "Search where the card fell, and don't come near us." I went to the site and found the missing items. The Ethiopian soldier had his rile aimed at me the entire time. Then I went to the gate next to the hill and decided to bypass the checkpoint and go over the hill to get to Sarra. When I was about 400 meters from the gate, about five shots were fired at me from the checkpoint. I lay on the ground and crawled toward the olive orchard. I was very tired because of all the running and the beatings. My chest hurt a lot. I continued toward the village, and tried to stay out of sight until I reached the first house of the village. By then it was around 1:00 P.M. I rested there and told the people in the house what happened. A short while later, I left for home.

M.T., 26 (the full name is no file at B'Tselem). The testimony was taken by Nidal Kana'ana on 3 January 2004. The witness requested anonymity; his details are on file at B'Tselem.