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From the field

Border Police assault resident of Hebron on his way to the village of Beit 'Awwa, August 2006

Jawdat Gheith, 52

I live in Hebron , in the Jabel Juher neighborhood, which is in Area H2.

On the afternoon of 26 June 2006, I was driving my car, a Subaru, through Dura Village on my way to Beit 'Awa. In the car with me were my wife, my four daughters, who range in age from 3-14, and two of my sons, one nine years old and the other nine months old.

In Dura, I stopped a taxi driver and asked him how to get to Beit 'Awa, and if I can drive there on the old road. He said that the road was open and there was no problem going that way. I asked again to be sure, and he said it was fine.

I wanted to take that road, which I hadn't used for fifteen years, so my wife and children enjoy the view of the mountains and the valleys. I got to where the road starts, where there was an iron gate. It was open. I was happy to see that and continued on my way toward Beit 'Awa. On the way, I passed a settler's car. He stopped, but I didn't think it significant. I continued until I got to the Beit 'Awwa checkpoint, which is located at the entrance to the village of Beit 'Awa. Several border policemen stopped me. There were more than ten of them, and they shoted at me in Hebrew. I didn't understand them. I tried to calm them and wanted to understand why they were shouting and swearing at me. I heard the words, "quiet, quiet."

Border policemen pulled me out of the car after one of them opened the door. I asked to speak with the commander or an officer. Right next to the car they beat me. All the time, they told me to be quiet. The ten of them, more or less, beat me brutally with the butts of their rifles and their hands, and they kicked me. I didn't know where the blows were coming from.

While they were beating me, I heard my wife and children, who remained in the car, screaming. Hearing them hurt me as much as the blows that I received all over my body. I don't think the little children will ever forget the incident, in which their father was beaten in front of their eyes, and they were helpless.

I woke up around 21:30 in ' Aliyah Hospital . I asked how I got there. I was alone and worried that my wife and children were still at the checkpoint.

A short while later, my wife came in and told me that she saw everything that had taken place, and that she and the children had screamed. When she saw that I lost consciousness, she fainted and an ambulance came to care for her. Another ambulance evacuated me.

My wife recovered in the ambulance while at the checkpoint, and she went home with the children. She told me that one of the medics drove the car from the checkpoint to Beit 'Awwa and then continued on in the car of a relative of ours who took or children home. After she was sure that the children were all right, she came to the hospital to see me.

The doctors didn't find any broken bones, but I suffered bruises to my face and chest. Although much time has passed since the incident, my chest still hurts, especially when I breathe or cough.

Since the incident, from time to time, physicians from Doctors Without Borders came to treat the children's emotional problems. One of my daughters, Lana, who is five, did not speak for ten days after the incident. She refused to talk about the incident, but she started talking with the aid of a psychiatrist from Doctors Without Borders.

Jawdat 'Abd al-Fatah Mahmud Gheith, 52, married with thirteen children, is a Waqf official, and a resident of Hebron. His testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash on 8 August 2006 at the witness's home.