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From the field

IDF soldiers detain high school student and beat him severely, 2 February 2006

Fares 'Aweidat, 17

Fares 'Aweidat

I live with my parents and seven brothers and sisters in Shuyukh al-'Arrub , which is situated south of the al-'Arrub refugee camp. My father is a laborer and is unemployed at present. I am in the twelfth grade at the high school in Beit Ummar. I go back and forth to school by taxi with some schoolmates.

On Thursday, the second of February, around 11:00 A.M., I left school and went by taxi to the entrance to Beit Ummar. I planned to take another taxi from there to get to the al-'Arrub refugee camp. From there, I would walk home. I got out of the taxi at the entrance to Beit Ummar and walked two steps when an army jeep stopped in front of the taxi. Three soldiers got out and ran toward the taxi. At first, I thought they wanted the driver, but two of them grabbed me and put my hands behind my back. They bound my hands with plastic handcuffs and threw me onto the ground. One of the soldiers blindfolded me. They said nothing to me, and I did not understand what was happening.

The soldiers grabbed me under my arms, lifted me up, and shoved me into a corner of the jeep. One soldier sat next to me, grabbed the back of my neck with one hand, and punched me in the head and face with his other hand. The jeep started moving, and during the whole trip, the soldier grabbed me by the neck and punched me. I cried out in pain and vomited along the way. The pain was so great that I can't estimate how long the trip took.

When the jeep stopped, the soldiers took me out and I fell to the ground. They dragged me on the ground for about fifty meters and put me in a room. I think we were in Kiryat Arba. On the way, one of the soldiers took my wallet out of my pocket. In it were my identity card and a few shekels.

The soldier sat me down and removed the blindfold. In the room with me were three soldiers in uniform. One of them spoke Arabic well; I think he was Arab. He told me that I had thrown stones, and asked who else threw stones. I replied that I had not thrown stones, and that the soldiers had seen me get out of the taxi. Not convinced, he slapped me. He was blond, tall, had a light complexion, and was of moderate build. I think he was in his twenties. The two other soldiers were tall and wore their helmets. One of them grabbed me by the shoulder, and the other grabbed me by the legs. They threw me onto the table. I fell on the corner of the table and then to the floor. The table fell on me. I began to vomit again.

The soldier who spoke Arabic did not give up. He asked me if I wanted to talk. I replied that I did not throw stones. He pressed me into the floor, my hands still bound behind me, sat on my chest, and began to punch me in the face. When he got up, the other soldiers stepped on my chest, pressing down. This went on for about half an hour, during which I cried and screamed. The handcuffs also hurt. My mouth was bleeding. The soldiers stood me up, and the soldier who spoke Arabic took a picture of me with a black camera. The other two soldiers grabbed me by the arms, and the Arabic-speaking soldier brought me a typed piece of paper in Hebrew and demanded that I sign it. At first, I refused. One of the soldiers grabbed my shirt from the inside and punched me in the face and chest. The soldier who spoke Arabic brought a pen and said to me: "Sign." I replied: "How can I sign if my hands are tied?" The soldier put the pen between the fingers of my right hand. I held the pen with the ends of my fingers, and one of the soldiers turned me with my back toward the table. When I managed to put the pen close to the paper, the soldier told me, in Arabic: "Scribble!" I scribbled something in the place pointed to by the soldier, and he again blindfolded me. The soldiers took me to a jeep.

We started to move and the soldiers dropped me off at the entrance to the Carmei Tzur settlement, north of Halhul. Two soldiers got out of the jeep, one of them cut off the handcuffs, and the other took out my identity card. The soldier who cut the handcuffs pulled the ID card from the hand of the soldier, and it tore. He threw it onto the ground. The soldiers got into the jeep and drove toward al-'Arrub. It was about 4:30 P.M. Within a few seconds, I lost my balance and fell. I was very dizzy. Within a few minutes, a taxi came from the direction of Hebron . The driver stopped, had his passengers get out, picked me up, and sat me down in the back seat. He asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. I said that I wanted to go home first. He drove me to the entrance to the al-'Arrub refugee camp. My friends came and one of them called my uncle, 'Abd al-Fatah, who is fifty years old. He came by car and drove me home.

My mother put cold compresses on my face. I was black-and-blue all over my body.

Later, my father got home and took me by car to the UNRWA clinic. From there, I was taken to ' Aliya Hospital , in Hebron , where they took X-rays of my chest and legs. I had lots of bruises. At night, I returned home. I stayed in bed the next day. On Sunday, I went to school, but was unable to stay, so I went back home. It was still morning.

Since the incident occurred, I have had trouble sleeping and have a rash. During the assault, I lost my school bag. I don't know who took it.

Fares Kamel Salem 'Aweidat, 17, is a twelfth-grade student and a resident of Shuyukh al-'Arrub , Hebron District. His testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash at the high school in Beit Ummar, on 26 February 2006.