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From the field

IDF soldiers shoot and wound Heytam Yassin near Checkpoint 17, Nablus District, 4 November 2006

Ahmad al-Birawi, Student

Ahmad al-Birawi

I am 18 and study science technology at a-Najah University , in Nablus .

Yesterday [Saturday, 4 November] around one thirty in the afternoon, I arrived at Checkpoint 17 by taxi. I was on my way home to 'Atsira a-Shamaliya. There were four cars ahead of us in line at the checkpoint. We waited an hour before our turn came to be checked. We got out of the taxi. The women went to be checked first. One of the soldiers asked them to feel their chests and abdomens, to make a kind of self-inspection. He ordered them to pull on their blouse and feel underneath it. I saw that some of the women refused, and the soldier shouted and swore at them. That soldier swore at everybody who got out of the car. He swore in Hebrew and Arabic, saying things like son-of-a-bitch and animal.

After the women passed, it was the men's turn. Heytam approached to about two meters from the soldiers at the checkpoint. The soldier ordered him to lift his clothes and turn around, and he did that. As he did, he asked the soldier, in English, why he asked the women to feel themselves. The soldier shouted at him, swore at him, and pushed him twice. Heytam pushed the soldier in response and said to the soldier, "Don't hit me."

The soldier aimed his weapon at Heytam. In the meantime, two soldiers went over to them. One of them cocked his rifle and fired four bullets into the ground. The other soldier fired two shots into the ground and then Heytam fell. We all backed away.

The soldiers picked up Heytam and put him on a concrete block at the checkpoint, with his head facing the ground. The first soldier hit him on the head and the other two soldiers bound his hands with plastic cuffs and kicked him in the head a few times. They also hit him in the back with their hands.

I called the Red Crescent to send an ambulance. The ambulance arrived within a few minutes, and then the soldiers stopped beating Heytam, but they refused to let the ambulance crew treat him. About ten minutes later, an Israeli ambulance came and the crew treated Heytam and took him away.

A half an hour later, the soldier began again checking cars at the checkpoint. A few of the other guys and I went over to one of the soldiers and told them that a soldier was holding our ID cards. He told us to wait. In the meantime, four officers came and asked who among us understood Hebrew. We told him that we didn't understand Hebrew well enough. One of the officers called to one of the drivers and asked him to translate for us. He asked us what happened, and we told him what we saw. Later, the officer brought us our ID cards and told us to go back to the cars. We got into the cars and left the checkpoint on our way to 'Atsira a-Shamaliya.

Ahmad Munir Muhammad al-Birawi, 18, is a student and a resident of 'Asira a-Shamaliya, Nablus District. His testimony was given to Salma a-Deb'i in Nablus on 5 November 2006.