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From the field

IDF soldiers order Palestinian family to undress in public and put on coverall during arrest operation, Tulkarm, November 2005

Jaber Sbeh, fater of ten

Muhammad Nasser

On Wednesday, 28 September 2005, at around 2:30 in the morning, I was awoken by a voice calling out on a loudspeaker in Arabic: "Come outside, give yourself up, the army has surrounded the house. Everyone in the house, come outside." I got out of bed and woke the rest of the family. We live in a building with five apartments. When everybody was ready, I opened the front door. There were many soldiers aiming flashlights at us. The sky was all lit up with flares. One of the soldiers ordered us to raise our hands and go toward the the soldiers, a distance of about thirty meters from the building. We walked toward the soldiers, our hands in the air. When we were about ten meters from them, one of the soldiers picked up a plastic bag and ordered me and my two sons, Muman, 19, and Wasim, 15, to undress completely and put on nylon coveralls that were inside the bag. He spoke in broken Arabic, but I managed to understand him. Our neighbor, Kamal a-Dalu, came out of his house, because he was afraid that the soldiers were calling him. The soldiers also ordered him to undress and put on the coverall. The coveralls were opaque.

I told the soldier in Arabic that women were standing alongside us, and that it was unacceptable and considered a dishonor to undress in front of women, but he insisted that we undress and put on the coveralls, and to do it in front of the soldiers and the women. Next to us were my wife, Najah, 45, two of my daughters-in-law, my three daughters, and Kamal's wife. My daughters-in-law are Wafa, 25, who is married to Nidal, and Samar , 22, Rasmi's wife. Nidal and Rasmi, who work in construction in Israel , were not at home that night. My daughters who were with me were Amal, 20, Fatma, 16, and Mirwat, 13. The boys, Kamal, and I undressed in front of them and we put on the coveralls. Some of the soldiers aimed their rifles at us.

After we undressed and put on the coveralls, one of the soldiers called to Samar by name and ordered her to go over to the women soldiers who were behind the neighbor's house. He told her that she, too, would have to put on the nylon coverall, and that the soldiers would go away when she was getting dressed. He spoke Arabic all the time. Samar did not want to go, but the soldier insisted.

After she went, one of the soldiers ordered me to go to my house, turn on the lights and open the doors and windows. I did what he said. When I exited the house, the soldiers who were surrounding it went into the house. With them were two dogs with some kind of equipment on their backs. I sat down on the ground about twenty meters from the house. The soldiers were inside the house for about thirty minutes.

About two and a half hours after they had come to the area, one of the soldiers, apparently the commander of the operation, told me that Samar was under arrest. I asked him why, but he refused to answer. At around 5:00 A.M., the soldiers ordered us all to go home.

The next day, about 2:00 A.M., soldiers broke into our house to arrest Rasmi, who is twenty-eight years old. Rasmi had come home because I called him to say that his wife had been arrested. The soldiers broke into the house and arrested him. They did not order us to leave, and did not dress us in coveralls. Rasmi and Samar are being held in the Russian Compound [the central police station in Jerusalem ]. No indictment has been filed against them yet. They have never been listed as wanted persons. The Palestinian Prisoner's Society sent a lawyer to represent the two of them. I don't remember his name, but I know that he visited them twice.

Jaber Rasmi Jaber Sbeh, 47, married with ten children, is unemployed and aresident of Tulkarm. His testimony was given to 'Abd al-Karim a-S'adi, on 13 November 2005