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From the field

The General Security Service pressures Muhammad Abu Hashish, who applied for a work permit, to collaborate

Muhammad Abu Hashish, age 32

Through the year 2000, I worked in agriculture within the Green Line. At the end of 2000, my work permit and magnetic card expired, so I went to Erez industrial zone to extend them.

I left home at 3:00 A.M.. and went to the Civil Administration compound east of the Jabalya refugee camp. From there, Palestinian police transferred me, along with the other workers, to the Palestinian security area at the Erez checkpoint. The Palestinian police had us stand in a long line at the entrance to the Israeli side. At 9:00 a.m., an Israeli soldier opened the iron gate, and the workers began to move towards the Israeli side. When we got to the outer gate, an Israeli soldier called over a speaker: "Expose your bellies". All the workers, including myself, pulled up their clothes, exposing their stomach and chest, took off their shoes and held them and rolled their trousers up to their thighs, all according to the Israeli soldiers' instructions.

Then the soldiers ordered us to go through an electronic security check device.
After we went through, a soldier took all of our ID cards. Then they ordered all of us to get on Israeli buses, while they held their weapons aimed at us. We rode on the buses which the soldiers guarded. The buses took us to the place where magnetic cards are renewed, and there they put all of us in a large waiting area.

At 2:00 p.m., which was about five hours after I went through to the Israeli side, and after about four hours of waiting, a soldier called my name over a speaker and directed me to go with another soldier to a narrow passage adjacent to the waiting area. The soldier told me I had to go see the General Security Service (GSS) and ordered me to stand next to the door of a room. He gave me a thorough body check both manually and using an electronic device. Then the soldiers took me into the room and closed the door. In the room there was a GSS officer, a tall, light-skinned man. The room was about three square meters, and it contained only two chairs with a desk between them, and a computer on the desk.

The GSS officer asked me whether I was Abu Hashish. I said I was. He gave me a harsh look, and began typing on the computer. I stood there while he ignored me. After about ten minutes, he told me to sit down on the other chair. When I was seated, he asked me, "Abu Hashish, why have you been refused entry?" I said that was a question I could ask him. He told me to answer, not ask questions. I replied that I did not know why I was refused entry into Israel. The officer asked me where I live. I answered that I live in Badawiya village. He asked me whether I lived in the northern or the southern part, and I told him that I live in the northern part. Then he turned the computer screen around towards me, and on the screen I saw a big picture of my house and the houses near it. He asked me which one was mine and I pointed out my house on the screen.

The officer told me I lived in a sensitive area, and asked whether I would let someone know if I saw terrorists attacking the Nisanit settlement. I said I would. He asked who I would contact. I told him that I would contact the [Palestinian] National Security, which is next to Badawiya village. The officer said that the National Security does nothing, and then asked for my phone number. I replied that I have no phone, and he yelled at me, asking, "Who are the terrorists that come to Badawiya village?" I said I didn't know. The officer yelled at me and called me a liar. He said, "There are terrorists who fire mortar shells from the village. Who are they?" I told him that the shells harm me and the other residents more than they do the Israelis. The officer ordered me to stand next to the door of the room. I stood there for 15 minutes or so, and then he called two soldiers who took me back to the waiting area. Before I left the room, I said that I wanted to know why my request had been denied. He told me, "After the Erez checkpoint is removed you will be able to enter Israel." I stayed in the waiting area until 4:30 p.m. Then they took us back to the Palestinian side in Israeli buses, under Israeli soldiers' guard.

Muhammad Salim Muhammad Abu Hashish, age 32, married and father of four, is a resident of Badawiya village in the northern Gaza Strip. His testimony was taken at his home by Mazen Majdalawi on February 8, 2005.