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IDF soldiers beat Ibrahim ‘Atallah, taxi driver, at the Etzion checkpoint, July 2006

Ibrahim 'Atallah, taxi driver

Ibrahim 'Atallah

I drive a taxi, a GMC Savanna. I usually drive the Kfar Etzion to al-Khader route. On the way, I pass the Etzion checkpoint, which is almost always staffed by soldiers. Usually, everybody is allowed to pass through this checkpoint. The soldiers sometimes stop the taxis and check the passengers' identity cards. If they check, serious traffic jams ensue. Sometimes I also encounter mobile checkpoints on the way.

On Friday, 21 July, I left my house about four in the afternoon and headed to al-'‘Arub refugee camp, where I was to pick up passengers. I got to the Etzion checkpoint. When I was about fifty meters from the checkpoint, I saw my two brothers and my sister's fifteen-year-old son standing in the sun at the roundabout of the checkpoint. I was surprised, because I knew that they had left two hours earlier from Kfar Etzion. They live next to me and were on their way to a relative's wedding in al-Khader.

The roundabout has a watchtower, and I saw a soldier standing in it. I got out of my car to see what was happening with my brothers. I asked them why they were standing in the sun if there wasn't any checkpoint. They said that the soldier in the watchtower stopped them just as they were getting into a vehicle going to al-Khader. They said that he took their ID cards, and when he saw that my nephew did not have an ID card, he kept them there. The soldier told them that he didn't believe that my nephew was only fifteen. While I was speaking with them, I heard the soldier in the tower swear in Hebrew. I speak Hebrew and understand the language well. He continued to speak rudely, got out of the tower, and approached us.

The soldier came over to me. He was about 1.7 meters tall, had a dark complexion, was full-bodied, and looked about twenty-five years old. He told me in Hebrew that it was none of my business, and before I responded, he raised his rifle. I thought that he wanted to frighten me, but he hit me in the chin and mouth with the rifle barrel. My chin began to bleed, and it hurt a lot. He wanted to hit me again, but two Israeli policemen in blue uniforms came over and moved him away. They didn't let him hit me again. They told him, in Hebrew, that they were in their car and saw what happened. They asked the soldier to identify himself, but he refused and made a telephone call.

My brothers saw that I was bleeding badly and called for a Palestinian ambulance. The ambulance arrived after about ten minutes, and at about the same time, seven army jeeps pulled up and lots of soldiers got out. All this time, the soldier kept swearing at me and threatening me that when I get jail, he would '“beat my brains out.'” The soldiers who had arrived did not let the Palestinian ambulance take me, and one of the two policemen treated me and tried to stop the bleeding.

An officer who had three stars on his shoulder went over to the soldier and asked him what happened. He lied and said that I tried to hit him. He said that he hit me to defend himself. The officer with the three stars said to me, '“We'll put you in jail'” Then one of the two policemen told the officer that they were in their patrol car in the area and saw the soldier swear at me, get out of the tower, and hit me. An officer from the Civil Administration arrived. He introduced himself as Eyal and asked me what happened. He also heard what the policemen told the army officer. All this time, my brothers and nephew were with me. But they stood on the side, and the soldiers did not talk with them.

The two policemen took my statement on what happened and said that they would file a complaint with the Military Police. About an hour later, another officer arrived. He had two stars on his shoulder. He, too, asked what happened. The policemen told him. I was still in pain and was bleeding. When he saw my condition, he said, '“Go to the hospital for treatment.'” By then, the Palestinian ambulance had already left. The same officer hailed an Israeli taxi and told the driver to take me to the medical clinic in the Efrat settlement. I went there alone and they treated me, sterilized the area, and closed the wound to my chin with seven stitches. I was at the clinic for about an hour and a half. They gave me a prescription for medicines that I had to take. I bought them on the way home.

About a week later, I returned to the same clinic and they took out the stitches. Nobody has contacted me, not from the Police and not from the Military Police.

Ibrahim Khader Ibrahim '‘Atallah, 32, married with two children, is a taxi driver and a resident of Khirbet Zakariya, Bethlehem District. His testimony was given to Suha Zeid at Hussein Hospital in Beit Jala, on 6 August 2006.