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From the field

Ramla police beat and abused Iyad Shamasneh when he refuses to collaborate

Iyad Shamasneh ,

bulldozer driver

Iyad Shamasneh

I drive a bulldozer and have worked in construction for more than ten years. I have worked for a number of Israeli companies, and with many workers from the West Bank . In 2001, I was arrested because I was with a worker from the West Bank . He had a permit to work in Israel , but there was a closure in effect at the time. They [the police] took me to the police station in Beit Shemesh and confiscated my car for a month. I was tried, convicted, and given one month of public service. I was also fined 2,000 shekels.

On Friday, 11 November 2005, around 8:00 P.M.,I went shopping with my sister and her husband. While we were shopping, Hussein al-Faqih, a friend of mine who lives in Qatana, called me. He told me that the vehicle used by his workers had broken down and that they were stuck in the middle of the road near the Nachshon junction. He told me that the workers were from Beit Nequba (a village inside Israel ). I promised that after I finished shopping, I would go and pick them up and take them home. Around 9:00 P.M., I took my brother's car, a Mazda 223, and drove to the Nachshon junction, getting there about 9:30-9:45. When I arrived, I saw a black Peugeot next to which three men were standing. I told them that Hussein had sent me to pick them up. I asked them where they were from, and they said Beit Nequba. They got into the car and we drove towards Beit Nequba.

There was a police checkpoint before the Nachshon junction. When I got to the checkpoint, I saw a blue police car, a Mazda, parked there. Three police officers in regular police uniforms were standing alongside the car. They ordered me to stop and demanded my ID card. I handed it over to them. One of the officers checked it and gave it back to me. He asked the passengers where they were from. They said they were from Beit Nequba. The policeman ordered us to get out of the car so he could search inside. He also demanded the passenger's ID cards Suddenly, the three of them took off and ran toward Beit Nequba. The police officers started to chase them. I stayed by my car, next to the police car. I waited ten minutes until the police officers returned. They asked me about the men who had fled. I told them that they said they were from Beit Nequba, and that their car had broken down by the Nachshon junction.

After they searched my car, one of the policemen brought a small briefcase with documents in it and asked me who it belonged to. I told him I didn't know, and that I had never seen it before. The police officers put me into the police car, and one of them got into my car and drove it. We drove to the police station in Mevasseret Zion. When we got there, one of the police officers questioned me, and I told him about everything that had happened. I gave him the telephone number of my friend who had asked me to transport the workers. After the questioning ended, two police officers came and took me to my car. One of them drove and the other sat next to me in the back seat. My hands were shackled with iron handcuffs. When we got to the Russian Compound [the main police station in Jerusalem ], it was midnight. I was taken into an interrogation room, where a policewoman questioned me. She told me that I was under arrest. Then a policeman took me to a prison cell. The next day a policeman came and took me out of the cell. He said that I was going to court.

It was around 5:30 P.M. when I entered the courtroom. The room was medium size, and on an old man was sitting on the podium. I knew he was the judge. After a hearing that lasted about thirty minutes, in which an attorney named Ron Almagor represented me, my detention was extended and they returned me to the interrogation room in the Russian Compound. I was held there until 3:00 P.M. the next day, when I was taken to the interrogations wing at the Mevasseret Zion police station. There were three tables there. At one of them sat a woman dressed in a police uniform. She had long, blond hair. At the other table was a man in civilian clothes. He was dark-skinned, had short hair, and was heavyset. He was wearing a gold chain with a small, red Star of David around his neck. Also in the room was the policeman who had brought me. He was blond, of medium height, and was in uniform. He sat me down facing the interrogator in civilian clothes. My hands and feet were shackled. The interrogator introduced himself, but I forgot his name. He asked me about the people who were with me in the car. He said that he knows them and that they are thieves. He interrogated me non-stop for about three hours.

Later, a tall policeman came into the room. He was light-skinned and appeared to be about forty years old, maybe a bit more. He said he was in charge of the station. He asked me what I wanted to drink, coffee or tea. I refused the offer. He asked the interrogator and the policewoman to leave the room. When they left, he asked me to work with him as an investigator in criminal cases, robberies and thinks like that. I refused the offer, and told him that those kinds of things are not my line of work. He asked me to go outside and think about his offer, and threatened that if I didn't accept the offer, he would revoke my ID card and jail me for a long time. He called to the policeman, who took me from the room. I remained in the corridor for an hour or so, and then the officer in charge of the station came out of the room and asked me if I wanted to eat. I said "no." He asked me what I thought about collaborating with him He said that if I refused, he would send me to Ramle and open a file on me. Again, I refused. He left, saying "You are free to go." We talked in Hebrew because I speak the language very well. After a few minutes passed, the interrogator in civilian dress came over to me and said, "If you don't collaborate with us, I assure you that there will be people in Ramle waiting to stick it up your ass. People there are ready to do it." He looked me in the eye and said, "Remember what I said."

Around 9:00 P.M., they returned me to the Russian Compound and put me in a detention cell. The next day, about noon, they took me from the cell and told me that my file had been transferred to Ramle. They took me in a small car, a Toyota . When I got to the police station in Ramle, a police officer in uniform and a person in civilian clothes took me to up to the second floor. The policeman sat me down in the corridor. He asked me if I had eaten lunch, and I replied that I had not. He said that I would get lunch, and inside ten minutes, he came back with a tray containing potatoes, tomatoes sauce, and rice. He did not remove the handcuffs, but I managed to eat, though it was hard.

While I was eating, a man in civilian dress came over to me. He was short, heavyset, fair-skinned, and his head was shaved. He asked me if I knew who he was, and I said that I didn't He grabbed the tray of food that I was holding and slammed it in my face. The food was hot. That hurt me, in addition to the humiliation involved. I began to cry. Then he rubbed my face with the food and slapped me twice. He said they were taking me to extend my detention. Right after that, a blond policeman in uniform came over to me. He asked why I was crying like a little child, and gave me a Kleenex to wipe my face. Then they took me to court by car. The court was far from the police station.

The judge extended my detention for another two days. It was around 2:00 P.M. The police officers took me back to the station and up to the second floor and into an interrogation room, where a uniformed policeman was sitting. He was tall and fair-skinned. When I sat down, he told me that the briefcase that was in my car had been stolen from Carmi Yosef. I told him that I didn't know anything about it.

He ordered me to leave the room, and I went into the corridor. After a few minutes, the man who had slammed the food in my face came into the room with another guy, who was thin, had a dark-brown complexion, and was wearing civilian clothes. The guy who had assaulted me told the thin man that I had said he was a maniac, even though I had said no such thing. They put me into an adjoining room that had two tables, each one with a computer on top. The door was opened toward the inside. When I entered, they stood me next to the door and opened it, slamming me with the door while I was standing next to the wall. I asked him why he was beating me, he responded "You still aren't ashamed to say that to me," and closed the door. He removed the handcuffs from one of my hands and said, "Take off your shirt." I took off my shirt and stood there naked from the waist up. He cuffed my hands again. The thin guy left the room, leaving me alone with the short, bald interrogator. In the corner of the room, near the door, were bottles of mineral water. He took one bottle after the other and poured them on my head. Simultaneously, he beat me all over my body. He punched, slapped, and kicked me. He also grabbed me by the throat and squeezed it, and slammed my head against the wall.

That lasted for about fifteen minutes. Then a uniformed policeman came into the room and asked the guy who had beaten me to go with him. They went into the corridor, around three meters from me, and spoke among themselves. The bald guy came back into the room. At the end of the corridor was a small kitchen with a sink and utensils to make coffee. There was also a broom. The bald guy took the broom and ordered me to bend over. With the broomstick, he hit me hard in the ass. I was wearing pants. He hit me for about three minutes, and I cried out in pain. Then he put me in the room I had been in previously and ordered me to take off my pants and underpants. He lowered my pants and underpants to where the shackles were, and ordered me to bend over. When I did, he kicked me hard until I fell on my face. He swore at me, saying things like, "I'll fuck your mother and your sisters. Filthy Arabs." While he was swearing at me, he stuck the broomstick into my anus. I screamed in pain. Each time I screamed, he pushed harder on the stick. He did that for about ten minutes. Then he said, "I am going now, but I promise you that I'll return tomorrow, and that all the investigators in the station will do a dance on your body." He stood me up and removed the cuffs from one of my hands. He ordered me to get dressed. I got dressed and then he handed me over to one of the policemen.

The pain and humiliation made me cry. Apparently, I lost consciousness for a while. When I regained consciousness, I found myself inside a police car. Sitting next to me was a policeman I had not previously seen. I asked where they were taking me. To the hospital for tests, he said. They took me to the emergency room, where the doctor told me that I was at Asaf Harofe Hospital . She checked my blood pressure. I had a urine test, and they took X-rays. I told the doctor that they had shoved a stick up my anus. She ignored me. I saw one of the policemen talking with her. I think he asked her not to check my anus. I was at the hospital from 9-11 at night. Then they took me in another police car, not the one that had brought me to the hospital. The police officers told me they were taking me to the Rishon Letzion police station. When I asked for the medical documents, they refused to give them to me, and asked me to bring first a commitment from my health fund to pay the bill. When we got to Rishon Letzion, they put me in a room with persons who were being detained.

The next morning, I requested that a doctor examine me because I didn't feel good. They took me to a doctor. He checked me quickly, gave me two pills, and they returned me to the cell. Around 3:00 P.M., I was taken out of the cell and handed over to two men in civilian dress. One of them was short and had a dark-brown complexion and a short beard. The other guy was heavyset. They put me into a blue Mitsubishi jeep and took me to the Ramle police station. They didn't say a word to me during the trip. When we arrived, they put me in a big room on the fourth floor. There was a round table in the middle of the room. On one side of the room was a closet and on the other a pole. Five persons in civilian dress were sitting in the room. One of them was the guy who had assaulted me the day before. They sat me down by the pole and began to swear at me and throw cigarette butts at me. They also spit at me. One of them closed the door and the other four got up. One of them was the guy who had assaulted me. He was holding a club fifty centimeters long. It was brownish red in color. He beat me all over my body. He and the others threw me onto the floor and stepped on me. They kicked me all over my body and pressed down on my face with their shoes.

Then the small, bald guy told me to get up. When I did, he made me stand next to the pole. He grabbed a skewer stick and began to stick me in the ass and thighs. After that, he put me next to the wall and put a brown plastic bag on my head. It was quiet in the room for a minute. Then the door opened and somebody took the bag off my head. I saw three men. Two of them stood facing me. They were heavyset and black-stocking masks hid their faces. The third guy was thin and had a hat on. One of the two masked guys grabbed a club and the other was holding a sword. They began to beat me all over my body with the club and the hard side of the sword. They also hit me with their hands. The short, bald guy joined them. After that, they took me to the second floor and handed me over to the police. One of the officers, a blond fellow, questioned me about the knife that they found in the car. About five minutes later, they took me back to the ground floor.

They put me into a big room with six men in civilian dress. There was a big flag of Israel hanging on the wall. A guy sitting behind a desk gave the others orders about the detention of some drug dealer. They sat me down in the middle of the room, and every once In a while one of them slapped or kicked me. This went on for fifteen minutes. After that, two of the men took me out of the room. One of them was thin and wore a hat. The other guy was heavyset and had a dark-brown complexion. They put me into the Mitsubishi jeep in which I had been brought to the station. I sat in the rear seat next to the heavyset guy. On the way, he got a phone call. From what I could understand, it was his wife on the phone and his daughter was ill. After he finished the phone call, he began to hit me and blamed me for delaying him. He said that he had to go to his daughter. The driver said, "Let's stop and bury him here."

Throughout the trip, the guy who sat next to me beat me with his hands. We got to the Rishon Letzion lock-up around 6:00 P.M. I was released on bond two days later, on 17 November. At first, I didn't tell anybody about what happened to me because I was ashamed. I was suffering from pain. Later my friend encouraged me to report the matter. So, on 18 December, I went to the Department for the Investigation of Police and filed a complaint. I have no hesitation in testifying before any person or entity about what happened to me.

Iyad Muhammad Hamad Shamasneh, 29, married with one child, is a bulldozer driver, and aresident of Beit Hanina, in East Jerusalem. His testimony was given to Karim Jubran in Zur Baher , East Jerusalem, on 21 December 2005.