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From the field

IDF soldiers beat Mater Khamaiseh, and fire at him from close range, Ramin Plain, August 2006

Matar Khamaiseh, vegetable dealer

Matar Khamaiseh

For twelve years, I have been selling vegetables in the Jenin market. Three months ago, I bought a white, 1994 truck which I use to take vegetables from the Jenin market to markets in the West Bank . Before that, I rented a truck and driver to enable me to transport produce from one market to another. I have a transit permit, for me and the truck, which I got from the Civil Administration office in Sallem. The permit is still in effect. Generally, I go from Jenin to the other markets via the checkpoint near the Einav settlement and the village of 'Anabta.

Since about 25 July 2006, the soldiers at the checkpoint forbid Jenin residents to cross via the checkpoint. I tried to cross on the 25 th , the 26 th , and the 27 th of July, but after that, I stopped trying to cross.

On Tuesday, 1 August, I had to go to the market in Beita to collect 15,000 shekels and more than 200 empty vegetable crates from one of the dealers, whose name is Mar'i. I left Jenin around two in the afternoon and headed to the checkpoint. There were dozens of cars at the checkpoint and I waited in line. The soldier asked to see my ID card, and when he saw I was from Jenin, he asked me, "Where are you going?" I replied, "To Beita." He told me to turn around and go back. I returned around and decided to go via the Mishor Ramin farm road. I managed to get to the market in Beita and got my money and the crates.

I returned the same way. I didn't see a point going via the checkpoint. The traffic was normal. Suddenly, I saw a Hummer jeep on the way. It was next to the tents of civilians living in the area. The soldiers motioned for me to stop. Four of them ran over to me and opened the door of the truck. One of them ordered me to turn off the engine and get out. I took my ID card and my permit and showed them to the soldiers. One of them threw the papers away. Then two soldiers grabbed me and dragged me to an olive grove.

When we got there, the soldiers sat me under a tree. One of them asked me in Hebrew where I was from. I understand a bit of Hebrew, and I told him I was from Jenin. He began to fire a volley of bullets over my head. He emptied a whole magazine with shots over my head. Two soldiers came over and the four of them began to beat me all over my body. They also hit me with the butts of their rifles and kicked me. They shouted in Hebrew things that I couldn't understand. I said nothing. I didn't know what to do. The blows really hurt. I thought I was about to die, and I recited the martyr's prayer ("There is no God other than Allah, and Muhammad is His prophet"). More than once I thought I was a dead man and that they would kill me. I thought only about death.

Then, the soldier who fired over my head put the barrel of his rifle to my hand and fired. I started to bleed and thought my hand was on fire. I didn't know what hurt more, the shooting or the beating. They continued to beat me for more than half an hour. All the while they shouted at me and didn't ask me anything.

When they stopped beating me, I sat there on my knees. One of the two soldiers who had taken me to the olive grove came over to me, picked up his rifle and aimed it at me. He fired from a distance of less than fifty centimeters. When I saw him aim at me, I recited the martyr's prayer, and then he fired. Then I felt a shock, pain, and a burning feeling in the stomach. I thought that the bullet had penetrated my body. I thought about what was happening to me, about the kind of bullets they are firing at me, and the kind of wounds I had.

Later, two soldiers grabbed me by my hands and dragged me on my stomach to the truck, which was pretty far away. At the same time, the other two soldiers beat me. We got to the truck and the two soldiers lifted me up and put me into the driver's cabin. Before that, I picked up my ID card from the ground, but did not see my permit and couldn't look for it. I was exhausted. After the soldiers put me in the truck, one of the soldiers told me something in Hebrew. From the context, I realized that he told me not to tell anybody about what happed. I turned on the engine and headed toward Jenin. The whole incident with the soldiers took about 30-40 minutes. I left there about 7:30.

When I got to Silat a-Dhaher, I called my brother Samer. I told him what happened and asked him to wait for me at the hospital. I went to the hospital in Jenin, where I was treated for about half an hour and then discharged.

Mater Mustafa Hassan Khamaiseh, 24, married with five children, is a vegetable dealer and a resident of Jenin. His testimony was given to 'Atef Abu a-Rob in Jenin on 7 August 2006.