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From the field

IDF soldiers beat Mu'awiyah Musa, taxi driver, near Ramin, Tulkarm District, 23 July 2006

Mu'awiyah Musa, taxi driver

Mu'awiyah Musa

I am thirty-six, live in Shufa village, which is south of Tulkarm, and have five children. I drive a taxi along the Tulkarm-Ramallah route, and have a Volkswagen minibus.

Yesterday, 23 July, around 8:30 in the morning, I was driving seven passengers from Tulkarm to Ramallah. They asked me to bypass the checkpoints surrounding Tulkarm so as to shorten the trip and enable them to get to work earlier. I decided to take the road through the Ramin village. From there I could go along the Ramin plains and get to the main Nablus-Tulkarm road. The two main exits from Tulkarm have Israeli army checkpoints: the Einav checkpoint and a-Ras checkpoint. At both, men under thirty-five are not allowed to leave the city. Also, they have long lines of cars waiting to cross. So we decided to bypass them.

When I got to the Ramin plains, I had to go one more kilometer to reach the main road. After driving about one hundred meters, I saw a Hammer jeep approach me. The jeep hid and stopped cars going along the road. I didn't see it before that. I stopped and the jeep stopped too. Three soldiers got out and the driver stayed behind the wheel of the jeep.

One of the soldiers went to the passenger side of my taxi, opened the door and told them to get out of the taxi and sit on the ground. In the meantime, two soldiers came over to my door and opened it. One of them grabbed my clothes and dragged me out. Another soldier grabbed me from the other side and they took me behind the Hammer. At the same time, one of the soldiers lifted his rifle and hit me hard in the stomach with the rifle butt. He was average height, had a dark complexion, had a helmet on, and wore sunglasses. When he hit me, I was just standing there. I felt intense pain and put both my hands on my stomach. The pain was so bad that I bent over and fell. The two soldiers kept kicking me in the stomach for 4-5 minutes.

At this point, the driver of the Hammer got out of the jeep. He shouted at the soldiers in Hebrew, which I understand. He told the soldiers to stop because I was dying from the pain. The soldiers ignored him. One of them, a soldier of average height with glasses and a beard pushed the driver and told him to get back into the jeep and not interfere.

When it was clear that I couldn't get up, one of the soldiers put the barrel of his rifle to my temple, cocked the weapon, and threatened to shoot me. Another soldier stopped him and said, "We don't want to kill him." Later, the soldiers backed away three meters or so. The passengers from my taxi were about ten meters from me. The jeep was between me and the passengers. They could not see the soldiers beating me, unless they looked the jeep. But they surely heard me screaming.

The soldiers told the passengers to pick me up and put me in the taxi. One of the passengers was a doctor. He checked me and asked the soldiers to summon an ambulance before they left. He said that I had shortness of breath from the beating. The soldiers ignored his request and ordered the passengers to pick me up and put me in the taxi. They asked the passengers if there was someone among them who could drive the taxi back to Tulkarm. One of the passengers drove the taxi. During the trip, a passenger called for a Red Crescent ambulance. The ambulance met us next to the entrance to Ramin, from the direction of 'Anabta, and it took me to the Thabet Thabet government hospital. At the hospital, I underwent tests, X-rays, and MRIs to make sure I was not bleeding internally. I stayed overnight and was discharged this afternoon [Monday, 24 July]. The doctors recommended that I return immediately to the hospital if my condition deteriorated.

Mu'awiyah Hassan Muhammad Musa, 36, married with five children, is a taxi driver and a resident of Shufa, Tulkarm District. His testimony was given to '‘Abd al-Karim a-S'adi in Tulkarm on 24 July 2006.