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From the field

IDF soldier beats Na'im Ashtiyeh and fractures his wrist, Checkpoint 17, July 2006

Na'im Ashtiyeh, Clerk

Na'im Ashtiyeh

I am thirty-four years old and live in Salem, a village east of Nablus . I have two children. I work in the Prisoner Affairs Ministry, which is located in Tubas. About three months ago, Israeli soldiers closed al-Badhan checkpoint, which I crossed to get to work, and put up three dirt roadblocks. At first, I would get there early in the morning to get around the roadblock before the army jeep patrols the area arrives, and then get into a taxi to Tubas. But in the last four weeks, the soldiers began to get there early and we can't go via al-Badhan any more.

I started going along Route 17, which goes from north of Nablus to 'Asira a-Shamaliya. I can't pass the checkpoint there either, because only vehicles are allowed to pass, not pedestrians. In any case, they wouldn't let me cross there in a car, because Nablus residents are not allowed to go via that road to the villages north of Nablus . At the Beit Iba checkpoint I can't cross either, because males under thirty-five are not allowed through. So, my only option is to bypass Checkpoint 17 on foot, along al-M'ajin dirt road. It takes about half an hour by foot. At the end is a parking lot where cars take people coming via Checkpoint 17 to villages in the area. The parking lot is about one kilometer from the checkpoint.

On Monday, 10 July, I left my house on the way to work, going via al-M'ajin. About forty meters before I got to the parking lot, I heard a jeep pull up and stop next to me. I stopped because I realized that the jeep stopped because of me. Nobody else was on the road. I hardly managed to turn around, when a soldier came of the jeep's back door. He had a big wooden stick in his hand. He hit me in my right hand with it. It really hurt, and I did my best not to scream. I told him, "Why did you hit me? What have I done?" The other soldiers laughed along with him. Three other soldiers got out of the jeep. The driver said, "Give me your ID card." I gave it to him and told him, in Hebrew: "What do you want from me?" He asked, "What are you doing here?" I said I was going to work. He said, "Where are you coming from? From the bypass road?" I told him yes. He asked, "Why did you come from there?" I told him that the soldiers at Checkpoint 17 don't let me cross. "Then," he said, "you are forbidden to cross!" I replied that, "I am a clerk and have to get to work." He said, "When the soldiers don't let you cross, you have to return." I told him, "You can be absent from your job? I want to work to bring home food for my children." He told me I was forbidden to cross from there. I said, "The Defense Minister said that the Israeli army is a moral army. This is moral conduct?" He swore at Amir Peretz. I told him to give me back my ID card, and he gave it to me.

The soldiers went to the jeep and before the driver got in, he said, "Give me your ID card." I told him, "I want to go and check my hand. It is broken." I felt my hand - the pain was terrible and the hand had swollen. He shouted at me and I gave him my ID card again. He told me, "Go and get it at the checkpoint." He meant Checkpoint 17.

The jeep left toward the checkpoint, and I went there by foot. On the way, I saw the same jeep stop two Palestinian vehicles coming from the direction of Nablus . The soldiers stopped each of them for a few minutes and then continued on their way. Later, I saw the jeep drive north and assumed that my ID card was with the soldiers at the checkpoint.

I got to the checkpoint, where there were three soldiers. I asked one of them, "Where is the officer?" Nobody answered. I told that soldier that the soldiers in the Hummer jeep stopped me and took my ID card. The soldier grabbed my hand and led me to the side of the checkpoint. He told me to stand there and grab the barbed wire on the ground. He enveloped me in the barbed wire. I didn't know what to do. I had no idea what he was doing. He improsoned me like a stray sheep.

Na'im Ashtiyeh. Photo: Salma a-Dab'i, B'Tselem, 1 August 2006.

Na'im Ashtiyeh. Photo: Salma a-Deb'i, B'Tselem, 1 August 2006.

I stood there for about an hour and a half. During that time, I asked the soldiers a few times to let me go, so that I could go to a doctor to take care of my hand, but the soldier yelled at me and told me to shut up. I continued nagging the soldier, and after about forty minutes he opened up the wire and grabbed my hand and took me to a place near the checkpoint, where there is a big rock. He told me, "Sit here next to the checkpoint."

After a few minutes passed, another guy came over. He was about twenty years old. Apparently, he had undergone the same treatment I had. I saw a bad bruise above his eye. The soldier told him to sit next to me, and pointed to where I was sitting. About forty minutes later, the soldier called to me and gave me back my ID card. He slapped me. I told him, "Why are you doing this to me?" He replied, "I told you, give me your ID card." I am absolutely sure that he did not tell me to give him the card again, because he just gave it to me. Anyway, I told him that I didn't hear him, and I gave him back the card. He took it, looked at me with disdain. Without opening it, he returned it to me. Then I left the checkpoint. After walking a few meters, I saw a taxi. I got in and went to Rafidiya Hospital . The doctor there X-rayed my hand and said that my wrist was broken and that a cast had to be put on it. After they put on the cast, I went home.

Na'im Nawaf Mustafa Ashtiyeh, 34, married with two children, is a Palestinian Authority clerk and a resident of Salem, Nablus District. His testimony was given to Salma a-Deb'i in Sallem on 27 July 2006.