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From the field

Israeli Soldiers Use Khaled al-Kafarneh as Human Shield, Beit Hanuna, July 2006

Khaled al-Kaharneh , student

Khaled al-Kaharneh

I live in Beit Hanun, in a four-story building, in the al-Kafarneh neighborhood in the center of town. The first floor is used for receiving guests. My grandmother and her sister live on the second floor. My aunt and her four children live on the third floor. I live with them. On the fourth floor, employees of the Palestinian Information Agency Ramatan live. The agency also has offices on the fourth floor.

Around 8:00 A.M., Israeli soldiers, who had been in the area of our house already yesterday morning, broke into the house. A bulldozer destroyed the outside fence and an armored personnel carrier drove up to the wall of the house, alongside the living room. About twelve soldiers came into the house, throwing a stun grenade into the house as they entered. My aunt told the soldiers that there were people in the house, and the soldiers ordered her to get everyone out. Everybody came out of their rooms and gathered in the living room. The soldiers, their weapons aimed at us, ordered us to take off our clothes and turn around. They demanded our ID cards. I was the only one carrying an ID card, and I gave it to them. The soldiers ordered me, Qusay, and Hazem to go up to the third floor, where soldiers were positioned. They ordered us to stand near the staircase. They kept us there for about twelve hours.

There were exchanges of gunfire going on all this time. One of the soldiers ordered us to lower our heads to the floor and keep quiet. I asked the soldiers for food, but they didn't give us any. They also didn't let us go to the bathroom. We sat there on the floor for twelve hours, without moving at all.

About half an hour before the soldiers left the house, they told us to walk down the stairs in front of them. When we got to the ground floor, I told them that there was glass on the floor and that I was not wearing shoes. The soldier told me to "keep on walking," and we walked to the ground-floor door. Then the soldiers ordered us to turn and face the wall until they left. The armored personnel carrier was parked in front of the house and soldiers got into it. The vehicle stayed there for another ten minutes or so. We used that time to go up to the third floor and hide in the bedroom. After a half an hour passed, all the armored personnel carriers had left the neighborhood. That was about 8:45 P.M.

After they left, we went down to see how my aunt, her children, and the children of Grandfather 'Othman, who live in the house next door, were. We also when to see the damage that the Israeli armored personnel carriers had caused the day before.

Khaled Ahmad al-Kafarneh, 23, is a student and a resident of Beit Hanun in northern Gaza Strip. His testimony was given to Muhammad Sabah at the witness' home on 18 July 2006.