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From the field

IDF soldiers abuse six Palestinians at Sarra Checkpoint, December 2003

Muhand Hassan, victim, age 19, resident of Jit, Nablus District

Muhammad Nasser

I am a plumber and I work in Nablus. I stay in the city during the week, and go home on weekends to be with my family. I generally go to Nablus on Saturday morning. Last Saturday, the army was in Nablus and I could not get into the city.

Yesterday [Tuesday, 30 December], I heard that the army had left Nablus, so I decided to try to go in. I went with two students from my village. As we came near to the Sarra checkpoint, a man told us that the soldiers were not letting anybody cross to Nablus. We decided to go around the checkpoint, through the olive orchards on the hill near the checkpoint. We started climbing up the hill at around 7:30.

When we were around 500-600 meters from the road where the checkpoint is, we saw two soldiers about two meters away from us. They had been hiding behind the bushes. As we were passing, they got up and aimed their rifles at us. They kicked us in the stomach, and we fell down. One soldier was tall, around 1.80 meters, heavy-set, dark-skinned, and had short, black hair. The other soldier was shorter, light-skinned, and was also heavy-set. He had longish blond hair and brown eyes. They took our ID cards.

The soldiers asked me where I was going, and I told them I was on my way to Sarra. The tall soldiers said to me, "For what? To get weapons?" He spoke to me in Hebrew, with a few words in Arabic. I understand Hebrew and understood what he was saying. The blond soldier asked me if I had a weapon and I said no. He ordered me to lie down on my back, and he stepped on my neck and pressed down with his foot. He told me I was about to die. After about thirty seconds passed, he lifted his foot and kicked me all over my body, mostly in the abdomen. I covered my midsection with my hands to protect myself. He told me to move my hands and continued to kick me. Meanwhile, the other soldier was beating the other two men who were with me.

Then the two soldiers beat Mazen 'Az a-Din, who was one of the people with me. The blond soldier grabbed his arm and twisted it behind his back, and the other soldier kicked him in the abdomen. Then they told him to lie down on his stomach, and the dark-haired soldier put his rifle to the back of Mazen's head and said that he was going to shoot and kill him. The soldier counted to three, and on three, the blond soldier fired into the air. They did the same thing to me.

Then they beat us in the backs of our heads with the butt of their rifles. They ordered us to walk a few meters, and then told us to sit down. Then they kicked us again. Then they told us to get up, and the dark-haired soldier punched me in the face and asked me if it hurt. I told him that it did, and he told me to show him where it hurts. I showed him, and he hit me with his rifle under my chin.

Then they told us to walk. We walked about twenty meters and saw three men tied to an olive tree with plastic cuffs. The dark-haired soldier told us that we had one minute to remove the cuffs from the hands of the other three, so they could tie our hands up. The blond soldier took the clip off a kippa he had in his pocket and gave it to me to use to open the handcuffs. He told me that if I broke the clip, he would shoot me.

I tried to open the cuffs, and bent the clip in the process. I tried to straighten it out, and the blond soldier asked me why I broke it. He told me in Hebrew to sit on the ground. The other soldier came over and asked me why I was sitting. I told him that the other soldier told me to sit. He then beat me.

The blond soldier told the other soldier that it was impossible to open the cuffs. He told us to move over a few meters and lay on our stomachs. We did that, and he stepped on our backs. Then he told us to stretch our arms out in front of us and not to say a word.

A short while later they came back and they told us we were free to go, provided that we don't tell anyone that we saw them, and that we don't describe how they look or what happened. The dark-haired soldier held out my ID card to me. When I reached out to take it, he kicked me. Then he gave me back the card. While that was going on, the other soldier beat the two guys who were with me. The soldiers gave them their ID cards and let us go. The soldier with the black hair asked me what time it was. I looked at my watch and told him it was 8:55. I told him the time in Arabic, and he said "Okay, okay."

The soldiers took their helmets and told us not to free the other three guys, and that, if we did, they would shoot us. The soldiers also told us not to tell anyone that they are there, otherwise they would come and shoot us. The soldiers headed toward the checkpoint. We went back to our village and the other three guys remained there, tied to the tree.

Muhand Hassan, age 19, is single and a resident of Jit, Nablus District. The testimony was taken by Nidal Kana'ana on 31 December 2003.