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From the field

IDF soldiers kill Muhammad Diriyah, father of six, when he opens the door to his house for them, April 2004

Update: On 28 June 2004 the attorney for Central Command stated that a criminal investigation would not be launched as his inquiries show that Diriyah was killed in the course of an arrest operation to apprehend his brother. According to information provided by the ISA, the brother – a Tanzim operative who headed a team that carried out attacks – was supposed to be armed and at home. Diriyah's brother, who was in fact armed, was apprehended nearby. The attorney stated that the operation was carried out incrementally, with the troops first addressing the occupants of the house by loudspeaker, calling on them to exit, but they did not comply. The attorney said that as this was essentially a combat situation,there were no grounds to order a criminal investigation.

Khairiya Diriyah, age 61

Khairiya DiriyaI am a resident of `Aqraba. I lived with my son, Muhammad Diriyah, 36, and his wife, Hayah Fathallah Diriyah, 28, and their six children: Ala'a, 12; Usama'a, 11; Amal, 9; `Asam, 6; Khawla, 4; and Deragham, who is one-year old.

On Sunday, 11 April 2004, at about 10:00 P.M., I was saying evening prayers. While I was praying, I heard about ten explosions of stun grenades and loud sounds of gunfire. I woke Muhammad and told him that the army was in the village. I asked him to wake the children, so that they would not be startled if the soldiers came into the house. Muhammad got up and walked toward the bedroom window, and said that he also thought there were soldiers in the village. After about five minutes, the sound of shooting and grenades grew louder, and bullets came flying into the house. You can still see the bullet marks on the walls. I told my daughter-in-law Hayah that it would be better to take the children out of the bedroom, and I went to their room. On the way, I heard the soldiers shout in Arabic, '“Terrorist! Open the door!'” They kept on shouting all the time, and I could not tell where they were standing. I stood some seven meters from the window and shouted to the soldiers to come to the front door of our house.

Muhammad went to open the front door. I followed him. This was not the first time that we had gone to open the door for soldiers who wanted to burst into our home. Muhammad moved me away from the door with his hand and told me that he would open it. I turned around and went to get the children and my daughter-in-law. I heard one of the soldiers say in Arabic, '“We've killed a terrorist, we've killed a terrorist,'” but I did not hear any shooting. When I returned with Hayah and the children, we saw Muhammad lying on the ground by the entrance to the house. The floor and the walls by the entrance were covered in blood. The strange thing is that I did not hear any shots. Maybe the soldiers used a silencer. Muhammad groaned. I didn't know what to do or what to say. My beloved son was lying on the floor in his own blood. I shouted at the soldiers and said '“Why did you kill him? He didn't do anything.'” I cursed them and told them, '“Kill me like you killed him. Why did you kill him? He didn't do anything.'”

Hayah and the children were in shock. They were crying and shouting hysterically. The children brought towels and wiped up their father's blood. The soldiers stood by and watched apathetically. I begged them to help Muhammad and call an ambulance, but they did not respond. There were about ten soldiers inside the house, and some of them searched the house. Hayah, the children, and I stood in the entrance to the house for about fifteen minutes. Then another group of about ten soldiers came over to us, and one of them ordered me to go up onto the roof of the house with them. He spoke to me in Arabic. The steps leading to the roof of the house are to the right of the main front door, where Muhammad was shot. I sat on the ground by Muhammad and lifted up his head. I saw that a bullet had struck the right, front side his head. I wiped the wound and told the soldier, '“You have no God, you don't have children, you don't have a heart. I want to help my son.'” Muhammad had lost a lot of blood and was unconscious, or perhaps he was already dead.

The soldier who spoke to me went up to the roof with another group of soldiers. They walked past Muhammad's body and past the children who were crying and shouting. Four soldiers were standing at the entrance to the house, but I cannot identify them because their faces were covered in black and green paint, presumably as camouflage. After another fifteen minutes or so, the soldiers came down from the roof. One of them told me that they had first-aid equipment and there was a doctor with them. Several soldiers left the house and returned with a stretcher. They put Muhammad on the stretcher some twelve meters from the entrance to the house. One of the soldiers examined Muhammad and bandaged his head.

While I was standing outside by the stretcher, I heard other soldiers shouting '“Open, open!'” They were knocking on the door of the home of my other son, Ibrahim, who lives about thirty meters from Muhammad's house. From the place where I was standing, I could not see the entrance to Ibrahim's house, but I heard him answer the soldiers and tell them that he was coming to open the door. I heard the door open. The soldiers brought Ibrahim and made him stand two meters from Muhammad. Ibrahim's hands were tied and his eyes were covered. The soldiers put him in an army jeep and left the area. Other soldiers took Muhammad in a military ambulance that was waiting by the house. Later, Ibrahim told me that the soldiers had removed his wife and baby daughter Asal from the house and searched it for about half an hour.

At about 4:30 A.M., the soldiers left the area. Later in the morning, our relatives and some residents of the village went to the Israeli District Coordinating Office to learn where Muhammad had been taken and what had happened to him. The commander of the liaison office informed them that Muhammad had died and that his body was at Rafidiya Hospital.

Khairiya `Ayash Sa`adah Diriyah, age 61, widow and mother of nine, resident of '‘Aqraba, near Nablus. Her testimony was taken by Salma a-Deb'i on 13 April 2004.