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IDF soldiers beat Palestinan youths at a checkpoint near the al-Fawwar refugee camp, February 2006

'Alaa al-Ma'iwi, painter

'Alaa al-Ma'iwi

I live with my parents and seven brothers in the al-Fawwar refugee camp, which is situated south of Hebron . I work in the area as a painter.

On 9 February, a Thursday, at about 11:00 P.M., I was driving my friend 'Alaa al-Hilkawi's car. He was in the car with me. His car is a blue Subaru. When we got to the al-Fawwar checkpoint, we saw that an iron gate was blocking the southern crossing of the Dura checkpoint. We did not see soldiers at the gate. They might have been in the army's control tower. We decided to turn around and park the car in the a-Sanawbar neighborhood, opposite the house of Ahmad Abu Sal. Drivers park their cars there when the checkpoint is closed at night. We left the car there and went to the checkpoint on foot, a distance of about 300 meters from where we parked.

When we got to the checkpoint, we saw two soldiers. One of them was tall, thin, and dark-skinned. He had black, straight hair and appeared to be in his mid-twenties. The other soldier was short, heavyset, and spoke Arabic well. The first soldier asked us, in Arabic: '“Where is the car?'” I pointed to the place where the car was parked and told him it was in the neighborhood. All of a sudden, the soldier pressed the barrel of his M-16 rifle to my face and pushed me, striking me under my right eye. It hurt a lot and I bent over, and rubbed the wound to soothe the pain.

The other soldier told me to give him my ID card. When I gave it to him, the first soldier told me, in Hebrew and Arabic, to go and get the car. '‘Alaa told him that he had the keys, and the soldier told '‘Alaa to throw them on the ground. I picked up the keys and went to get the car. '‘Alaa remained with the soldiers. After I had gone about ten meters, I heard '‘Alaa cry out in pain. I continued to walk, got the car, and parked it behind the gate.

The first soldier (the tall one), told me to turn off the engine and get out of the car. '“Where are the weapons,'” he asked me. I told him that I didn't have any weapons in the car. '“You decided that I had weapons based on how I look?'”, I asked. He said that if I don't tell him where the weapons were, he would continue to beat me. I told him, '“please! Don't beat me. I have a terrible headache.'” He told me to open the car doors and the trunk and to give him the car documents. He searched the car, and held onto the documents. He told us to close the doors and to follow him to the tower.

The two soldiers led us to the tower. When we got there, they told us to cover our eyes. I put my hands over my eyes, and '‘Alaa lowered his cap to cover his eyes. The soldiers sat us down on chairs under a tent made of a camouflage net. I managed to sneak a look from between my fingers, and after thirty minutes or so passed, one of the soldier noticed that I could see: he stood behind me and told me to lower my hands, and he blindfolded me with a piece of white cloth.

About twenty minutes after that, a soldier removed my blindfold and said, '“For the last time, tell me where he weapons are.'” I swore that I didn't have any weapons. He punched me in the face and head. I screamed and he continued to beat me, and he called me a '“son of a bitch.'” For half an hour, he punched and slapped me. I raised my hands to protect myself, and screamed. I screamed louder and louder, and the soldier backed off. I began to cry, and he told me to stop crying. I told him that my head hurt. He blindfolded me again. While he was beating me, '‘Alaa was sitting there. The soldiers didn't assault him. The dark-skinned soldier only hit him once.

After that, I heard the two soldiers speaking among themselves in Hebrew. The dark-skinned soldier said that if I didn't confess, he would shoot me between the legs. I was really scared and thought they actually intended to do that. The dark-skinned soldier came over to me. I could see him, despite the blindfold, because of the bright light from the tower. He placed the barrel of his rifle against my penis and cocked the trigger. I was certain he was about to shoot. I jumped back, raised my hands, and swore again that I didn't have any weapons. He punched me hard under my eye. I cried out in pain and said that I wanted to see the commander. The soldier shouted at me to shut up. I continued to scream, and the dark-skinned soldier removed the blindfold, took out my ID card and said, '“Why is the identity card torn in places?'” I told him that I would replace it, and that he could check and see, based on my ID number, that I had never been imprisoned and had never caused a security problem. I asked him why he was beating me. '“You have to replace the ID card,'” he replied. He gave me the card and said, '“Get up!'” '‘Alaa also got up, and the soldier pushed us toward the tower door. He said, '“Go! Good night, Goodbye."

We left the tower about 1:30 A.M. and walked to the car and drove to where we had originally parked it. When we left the tower, '‘Alaa told me that the beating he got when I went to bring the car was worse than what the soldiers did to me. He said that the soldiers punched him in the face and stomach. I got home at 2:00 A.M. and put a wet towel on my face to soothe the pain.

'Alaa Khader Muhammad al-Ma'iwi, 23, is painter and a resident of the al-Fawwar refugee camp, Hebron District. His testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash in Hebron on 13 February 2006.