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From the field

IDF soldiers order taxi driver and passengers to undress in public and detain them for hours wrapped in nylon sheets, 'Araba area, September 2005

Jasser Ibrahim , age 64

Jasser Ibrahim

Last Tuesday [6 September 2005), around 12:30 P.M., I was in Jenin buying gifts and a few things for my daughter's wedding. When I finished, I got into a taxi to go home to Kafr Ra'i. The driver was Bassam, Abu Hassan. The taxi was full. Most of the passengers were from Kafr Ra'i and Fahma. There were also three other men, whom I do not know, but I later found out that they were from 'Illar. Around 12:45, when we were near the main road leading to 'Araba, we came across a "flying" (ad hoc) checkpoint not far from the gate located along the 'Araba-Y'abed road. There were two taxis in front of us. One of the soldiers told the drivers of the other taxis to continue forward slowly, and let them pass. The soldier spoke in Arabic and used a megaphone. He was inside the jeep. The soldiers let the car behind us pass us and continue on, and told the other cars behind us to turn around and leave. Only our taxi remained.

The soldier called out to the driver, Abu Hassan, and ordered him to turn off the engine and put the keys on the roof. Abu Hassan did as the soldier said, and then the soldier ordered him to get out and stand in front of the taxi. Abu Hassan did that, and then the soldier ordered him to take off his clothes. Abu Hassan took off his shirt and pants. He tried to convince the soldier not to make him take off his underpants, but the soldier threatened him and said on the megaphone, "We are going to shoot you." Abu Hassan took off his underpants, and the soldier ordered him to go over to them. The soldier ordered him to turn around all the time, even though he was naked and did not have a weapon on him. When Abu Hassan got to the soldiers, they gave him a white plastic robe and ordered him to sit down.

After that, the soldiers ordered the other passengers, one after the other, to get out of the taxi. . The soldiers tried to separate a small boy who was in the taxi with his father, but the boy screamed and cried. There was a woman in the taxi and the soldier ordered her to take off her head covering. She removed it partially, and the soldier ordered her to take it off completely. He also ordered her to throw her bag onto the ground and told her to go over to them, together with the child, who was still screaming that he wanted his father. Then it was the father's turn.

I was the last passenger to get out of the taxi. The soldier asked me if anybody else was in the taxi. I told him there wasn't anybody else, and he ordered me to take off my clothes. I took off my shirt and undershirt, and stood there in my pants. He ordered me to open the doors of the taxi. I did as he said. Then he told me to remove everything from the taxi. I took everything out of the taxi including all of the passengers belongings. When I finished, the soldier said, "Undress completely." I undressed and went over to the soldiers. There weren't any more robes, and they gave me a blanket to cover myself. They blindfolded me and handcuffed me, and sat me down with the other passengers.

I don't know exactly how long we sat there, but it was about two hours. During that time, the soldiers wandered about in the area, and army vehicles came and drove around. Nobody asked me anything. After a while, the soldiers took us by hand and sat us down elsewhere. When I got up, the blanket fell and I stood there naked. After that, the soldiers removed my handcuffs so that I could hold up the blanket to cover myself. The soldiers brought us water, but I didn't drink even though I was thirsty. Even if I had drunk I would not have felt better, because I was in a very tough situation.

About an hour later, the soldiers took us somewhere. Later, when we were released, people from 'Araba told me that they had taken us to the Dotan army base, near 'Araba. The soldiers took us out of the vehicle one at a time, and we waited there for between an hour and a half and two hours, until somebody began to call our names. He gave me my ID card and took off my blindfold. I saw that he was wearing civilian clothes. He said, "Whoever has things in the box, take them." We took our things, and a short while later, the soldiers blindfolded us again and took us to where they had originally stopped us. When we got there, they removed the blindfolds and handcuffs and let us go. We did not find our clothes or the taxi that we had been in. A passing taxi took us to 'Araba. The driver said that Abu Hassan's taxi and our clothes were in 'Araba. We went to the house where our clothes were, and we got dressed.

Since this incident occurred, I have been suffering from dizzy spells. I went to a doctor that same day and he said that I had suffered sunstroke. Since I got home, I have had headaches, and have been agitated. I have not dared leave the house. Everybody knows what happened, and they talk about it. I decided to isolate myself until people forget about it. They talk about it a lot, all the time, and that just makes me suffer more. Now, when I think about it, it would have been better if the soldiers had killed me, and had not done what they did. Whenever I think about what happened to me I end up crying. I can't hold back the tears.

Jasser Rashid Muhammad Ibrahim, 64, married and father of nine, is a farmer and a resident of Kafr Ra'I in Jenin District. His testimony was given to 'Atef Abu a-Rob in Jenin on 11 September 2005