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From the field

Soldiers at the Huwarra checkpoint assault man waiting in line with his wife and children, August 2006

'‘Abdallah Khamis, father of five

'Abdallah Khamis

I am thirty-one years old, married with five children. I am now unemployed. In the past, I worked at a stone factory.

Yesterday [Saturday, 12 August], I arrived at the Huwarra checkpoint. With me were my wife and two of my sons, Lutfi, who is three, and Oreiv, who is two. We had paid a condolence call to relatives in Sarra. It was about two in the afternoon when we got to the checkpoint, and it was crowded. I was surprised to see about seven hundred people there. The soldiers let people pass one by one, at a pace that they determined. We got into the lane reserved for men over age forty, women and children. Usually, I have no problem using this lane when I pass with my wife and children.

After waiting for three hours, our turn came. I handed over my identity card to the soldier who was checking ID cards. He looked at it and then he said to me, in Hebrew, '“Go back.'” I told him that I can't go back because I always pass from that line. He replied, '“Go back.'” I told him, in Arabic, "Then I'll go through the parallel line through which the men less than forty cross.'” He said, '“Go back,'” and pointed to the end of the line. There were more than four hundred people in line. I told the soldier, '“My wife cannot cross here by herself with the two children.'” The soldier pushed my wife with his hand, and I grabbed his hand. He tried to push her again. He and another soldier who was standing there grabbed me. One child was in my arms. The soldier took him from me and put him on the ground. One of them told me, in Arabic, '“Go to the pen for those who are detained. I told him, '“I am not going anywhere. I am going to my house.'” They tried to bind my hands with plastic cuffs, and I resisted.

Suddenly, one of the soldiers grabbed me by the ears while another soldier smashed my head on a concrete partition-wall. Another soldier hit me on the back of my head with his rifle butt. He hit me again on my neck. They punched and kicked me. By now there were seven or nine soldiers. They all hit me with their hands, kicked me and cursed at me. I don't know where they came from. The beating continued for about five minutes. I tried to protect my head and neck from their fists. Then I didn't feel anything and lost my balance. I didn't know what was happening to me any more.

My wife screamed and cried, and my children cried. She tried to get the soldiers off me, and one of them pushed her by the throat. Then one of the soldiers grabbed me by the throat and led me to the area where Palestinians are held. I did not lose consciousness, but the many blows I suffered completely disoriented me. The two soldiers who beat me in the beginning punched and kicked me all over my body. The first soldier was light-skinned, thin, short, around 1.65 meters tall, around 23-26 years old. He wore sunglasses, had two stripes on his shoulder, and had freckles.

The other soldier was tall, full-bodied, with a slight paunch, and dark skin. He spoke to me in Hebrew and after he cuffed me, he said, '“You'll stay with us tonight, and we'll show you what we'll do'… You'll regret this.'” I don't remember the third soldier well.

They put me by myself in a small, closed room that had a small window over the door. After about ten minutes passed, they brought in three young men. When I asked them why they had been brought there, they said they tried to get the soldiers off me, so they were detained. I stayed in the room until 9:00 P.M., and then an officer from the Civil Administration arrived in a while car.

The officer asked me to tell him why the soldier hit me. He asked, '“He did it for no reason?'” I told him that, when the soldier pushed my wife, I grabbed his hand, and that's all. That is all that I did. He asked me if I could identify them? '“Yes, I can,'” I told him. '“Come with me and tell me who hit you.'” I went and when I saw the soldiers, who were still at the checkpoint, I pointed out the first three soldiers who hit me. Then he took me back to the room.

About an hour later, one of the soldiers came and told me to leave with a young man from our village, Muhammad '‘Imran. He took us to a police car that was at the checkpoint. The soldier took off the handcuffs and the policeman cuffed my hand to Muhammad's hand with a set of plastic handcuffs. As we were riding, I asked the policeman, '“Where are we going?'” He told me we were going to the police station in Ariel. When we got there, the police removed the handcuffs and put us in one of the rooms.

About two hours later, a policeman took me to another room where a policeman was waiting. The policeman said to me, "you are causing trouble." I replied that I was no troublemaker. He asked me what happened, and I told him in fine detail. He wrote it down. He said he was going to let me go but that I was charged with assaulting a soldier and would have to put up a 1,200 shekel bond. I told him that I didn't assault anybody, but that I grabbed the hand of the soldier who pushed my wife twice, and that was all that I did. I signed the papers. The policeman who had escorted me returned me to the room I had been in earlier. He asked Muhammad to go with him. After a while, the two of them came back. The policeman told us that we could go. We were taken by police car to the Za'atra checkpoint, where we hitched a ride home.

I got home around two in the morning. I was very tired. My legs hurt from the hard kicks I had received. Also, my head hurt. On the way home, Muhammad told me that he too had signed a bond for 1,200 shekels, and that we should pay the bond as fast as possible. He gave me the name of an attorney who is a specialist in cases like ours.

'‘Abdallah Lutfi '‘Afaneh Khamis, 31, married with five children, is a resident of Huwarra, Nablus District. His testimony was given to Salma a-Dab'i in Huwarra on 13 August 2006.