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From the field

Settlers attack child and injure person who tries to help him during disturbances following the terror attack at Beit Hagai Junction, Hebron District , 26 June 2005

Fares al-Batesh, Father of three

Feres al BateshI live with my wife and three children in a-Sawakneh, in the Old City of Hebron. My eldest child is five years old. I drive a tractor for a living. I have a small tractor, which I use to bring building materials to Building Committee contractors. Trucks and other vehicles can't travel through the narrow streets of the Old City.

Last Sunday [26 June], I left my house about 8:00 A.M. and went by foot to get my tractor, which was parked in the Abu Sneineh neighborhood. On the way, I passed the army checkpoints, and about ten meters after the 'Abed checkpoint, I saw a child who was nine or ten years old. He was carrying a tray full of sweets. He was frightened. Alongside him was a group of settlers. Some of the settlers were young children, about ten years old, and the others were about twenty years old. I did not notice how many there were, as I was paying attention to the child, who was in panic. The settlers tried to attack him. Maybe they tried to knock over the tray. I put my hand on the child's shoulder and told him not to be frightened. I still don't know what the child's name is. The two of us started to walk away, toward the 'Abed checkpoint. I called out, in Hebrew, "Soldier," so that the soldier at the checkpoint pay attention to what was going on, but he didn't.

Just as I started to take the child away, I felt a heavy blow to the back of my head. I fell onto my back, and the left side of my head struck the ground hard. After that point, I can't remember. I don't know what I was hit with. When I woke up, I saw my friend Ra'ed, and he told me that I had been unconscious for about fifteen minutes. He left me about twenty minutes earlier, so he could calculate how long I was passed out. I saw lots of Border Police officers and an IDF doctor. The doctor splashed some water on me and gave me first aid. There was also a TIPH representative there. I don't remember what she looked like, even though she asked me several questions. I don't remember what the questions were, either.

One of the Border Police commanders tried to calm me and told me not to be frightened. He said that they had summoned an ambulance from Hebron, which would take me to the Government Hospital, and after that I'd be able to go home and rest. An Israeli ambulance from Magen David Adom arrived and took me to Gross Square to wait for the Palestinian ambulance. After about twenty minutes, the Palestinian ambulance arrived. In the meantime, even though I hadn't completely recovered consciousness, the doctor talked to me courteously and kept trying to calm me. He seemed angry that the settlers had attacked me. Once the ambulance got there I sat up, and the army doctor told me to stand and go over to the ambulance. I could barely get up and after two steps I couldn't go any further, and fell.

At that point, the soldiers brought out a stretcher and put me back inside the military ambulance. It started to move. I don't remember what happened until we arrived at Kiryat Arba. When I fully regained consciousness, I saw that I was attached to intravenous and was being given oxygen. I asked where I was and why I was there. The army doctor told me that we were in Kiryat Arba, and not to be afraid. We spoke in Hebrew and Arabic. The doctor told me that they were going to transfer me to a hospital in Israel. About five minutes later, the ambulance started to drive towards Jerusalem, but then I heard people over the two-way radio telling the driver to go to Beersheva. As we drove there, I passed out and regained consciousness from time to time.

I arrived at Soroka Hospital in Beersheva at 11:25. I know this because it's written on the medical report. I felt severe pains in my head, and I still suffer from the pain. They did tests and took X-rays, and then returned me to the emergency room. I thought they would admit me to the hospital for treatment, but a policeman and a policewoman came to the hospital and told me that my treatment was finished and that I was fine. They said they were going to discharge me from the hospital. I said that my head still hurt a lot. The doctor at the hospital told me that I was healthy and that nothing was wrong with me.

At about twelve o'clock, I was discharged from the hospital. I know the time because I looked at the mobile phone I had with me. A police car took me to a military checkpoint. I think it was at the Arad junction. I don't know the area well and this was the first time I had ever been to Beersheva. The police officers dropped me off there. I asked where I was. One of them signaled with his hand and said, “Hebron's in that direction.” I told him that I had no money to take a taxi and he answered in Arabic, “That's not my problem.” The patrol car turned around and left.

Despite the fatigue and the pain, I was really angry. Israeli vehicles, private and military, passed by. While walking, I signaled to the drivers to stop for me, but none of them stopped. I walked like that for four and a half hours, until I reached a flying checkpoint next to the quarries of a-Dhahiriya. There were three soldiers at the checkpoint. I asked them for some water, and one asked me what had happened to me. I told them that I'd been in the hospital. One of the soldiers gave me water to drink, and when he saw how exhausted I was, he suggested that I sit down in the shade. I sat down for five minutes and then got up and started walking again. I walked about two kilometers along an unpaved path, until I got to an asphalt road. I met some shepherds, and one of them told me the direction I should go. He also gave me a shirt, since the one I had on was torn. The military doctor had ripped it when he treated me.

Later, a Subaru car stopped, and the driver took me to the center of a-Dhahiriya and from there I took a taxi to Hebron. I arrived home around 5:30 in the evening. Five minutes after I got there, my brother-in-law, Ra'ed a-Zir, took me to 'Aliyah Hospital in Hebron. I underwent tests and X-rays of my head. It turned out that I had a fracture on the left side of my skull. After about an hour, I went home. I still suffer from headaches and dizziness. The pain in my left leg has eased a bit. Since the attack, I stay at home. I won't be able to go to work until I'm fully recuperated. The day before yesterday, I went to the Palestinian DCO, and they referred me to the police station in Kiryat Arba to file a complaint. At the police station, I gave a statement about the incident.

Fares Hajajzi Muhammad al-Batesh, 28, is a father of three children, a tractor driver and a resident of Hebron. His testimony was taken by Musa Abu Hashhash, in Hebron, on 30 June, 2005