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From the field

IDF soldiers beat two Palestinians at Sarra Checkpoint, December 2003

Zuheir Suliman, one of the victims, age 33, resident of Sarra, Nablus District.

Zuheir Suliman

I work as a tile layer in Jasput, which is a village west of Sarra. Yesterday [Wednesday, 31 December], I left home at 7:00 A.M. [to go to work.] I went with Mahmoud Shaker, who works with me and is also from Sarra. We know that there is a checkpoint at the entrance to the village, so we decided to go over the hill to leave the village. On the way, we met two guys from Qadum. One of them told us that soldiers were in the hills and that one had called them to stop, but that they were able to run away because the soldiers were far away from them. They warned us not to go that way, but we ignored them and continued on our way through the olive orchards.

About the middle of the way between Sarra and Jit, I heard a shot. The bullet flew a couple of meters to our right. I then heard someone say in Arabic, "Stop." I looked to where I thought the bullet came from and saw soldiers among the shrubs. They aimed their rifles at us. One of them told us in Hebrew: "Come here." Two soldiers stood up. I saw one of them holding an orange-colored stun grenade. It looked like a pipe and was about fifteen centimeters long.

Mahmud and I went over to them, and when we were a few meters from the soldiers, one of them ordered us to lift up our clothes and turn around. We did as he said and then the other soldier came over and stood behind me. He was tall and blond. The first soldier continued to talk to me. I told him that I understand Hebrew. He asked me in poor Arabic, "Why are you passing by here?" I told him that soldiers do not allow us to cross through the checkpoint. The soldier told me, "You are terrorists and have weapons. Drop your weapons." We told them that we had no weapons. The soldier standing behind me hit me in the back of the head with a helmet he was holding. That made me dizzy. The other soldier continued to talk to me. He said, "You have to go to the checkpoint, and only if they do not let you through can you say that it is forbidden." He took our ID cards, and then they began to kick us and beat us with their helmets. The blond soldier beat me, and the other soldier beat Mahmud.

After a minute or so, I saw that Mahmud had fallen to the ground. The blond soldier went over to him and the other soldier. Then the two soldiers came over to me and the second soldier told me in Hebrew: "Come here." I went to them and one of them stood behind me, so that I was standing between them. They beat me, one from the front and the other from the back, and kicked me. The soldier who was behind me ordered me to sit on the ground, and then hit me again.

They told me to sit next to Mahmud. Mahmud spoke to them in Hebrew. I did not understand what he said. As they were talking, the blond soldier continued to beat me from behind. Each time I tried to protect myself with my hands, he yelled at me and told me to move my hands. When I didn't, he hit me in a different part of my body.

About a half hour after they began to beat us, the blond soldier said to us, "Take your ID cards and go." Before they let us leave, the soldier who had beaten me hit me in the back of the head with the butt of his rifle. He threw a stun grenade and ordered me to grab it. I refused, and he held the grenade in front of my face. I tried to push it away from me, and the soldier hit me. Then he told me in Arabic, "Raise your hands, to God," and hit me in the ribs, under my right shoulder. Then he told me, "Get out of here."

I did not go, but waited for the other soldier to give me my ID card. The blond soldier shouted, "Get out of here." I stayed where I was, and he kicked me in the chest. That was the hardest blow I received. Then he told Mahmud in Arabic, "Tell him that he better run or I will shoot him." I began to run toward the village. After running about 150 meters, I fell. I stayed on the ground until Mahmud arrived. I got up, and we went together to the village. I did not go to a doctor, even though my chest and back hurt.

Zuheir Suliman, age 33, is married with five children. He is a resident of Sarra, Nablus District. The testimony was taken by Ataf Abu a-Rob on 1 January 2004.