Muhammad Hamarneh , Student
I am 22 and study physical education at a-Najah University , in Nablus .
Yesterday [4 November 2006] at 1:30 P.M., I arrived at Checkpoint 17 by taxi. I was on my way to 'Atsira a-Shamaliya to go home. Three cars were in line at the checkpoint. The soldiers ordered the drivers not to approach them and to remain about fifteen meters from them. They told the passengers [in the first car] to get out, raise their shirts, and walk toward the soldiers. The soldiers then searched everyone's bag, checked their ID cards, and then motioned them to pass. The car was then searched, and if was allowed through, it was stopped again, about 15-20 meters from the checkpoint to collect the passengers.
It took an hour for the taxi I was in to be checked. At first, five women got out and went over to be checked. One of the soldiers ordered them to check themselves, to run their hands over their body, but they refused. He didn't press the matter and only checked their bags. Then it was the men's turn. There were four of us. Heytam Yassin, 25, who lives in my village, went first. The soldier motioned him to lift up his clothes covering the upper part of his body and to stand about 1-2 meters from him. Heytam lifted his clothes and took one step toward the soldier. I heard the soldier ask him again, in Arabic, to lift up his clothes. Heytam told the soldier, in English, that it was forbidden for the soldier to demand that the women run their hands over their bodies. The soldier pushed him with both hands. Heytam continued to talk to him, and then the soldier pushed him again, harder than before. Heytam lost his balance but didn't fall. Then he pushed the soldier in reply. The soldier cocked his weapon.
In the meantime, two soldiers who had been searching our taxi went over to them. They shoved Heytam, and he shoved them back. They cocked their weapons and aimed them at him. The other men and I moved back a few meters and asked Heytam to calm down, fearing something bad would happen to him.
One of the soldiers fired his rifle into the air three or four times, another soldier fired two shots into the ground, and the third soldier aimed his weapon at us. The soldiers shouted at Heytam in Hebrew: "Stop. Lift up your clothes!" Heytam didn't hear them and took a step toward them. Then I saw the three soldiers fire at Heytam, one them firing into the air. I heard the shots and saw Heytam fall to the ground.
The other men and I moved back. I saw the soldiers pick up Heytam and throw him onto his stomach, onto one of the concrete blocks at the checkpoint. They bound his hands with plastic cuffs. I saw the three soldiers beat him in the back with their rifle butts. One of them ordered the drivers of the cars at the checkpoint to move the cars back, and the other two soldiers continued to hit Heytam with their rifles. I was standing about one hundred meters from the soldiers.
They beat him for about five minutes. About five to eight minutes after the shooting, a Palestinian ambulance arrived. I didn't see the paramedics go over to Heytam. Three soldiers may have prevented them. Five minutes later, an Israeli ambulance came and took him away.
Lots of soldiers then arrived at the checkpoint. The other men who were with me and I went to get our ID cards, which were being held by the soldiers who had beaten Heytam. One of the men I was with told one of the soldiers who had just arrived that our ID cards had been taken from us. He ordered us to wait next to the checkpoint. About ten minutes later, four officers arrived, their rank apparent by the markings on their shoulders. One of them asked us if we understood Hebrew. We said that we didn't. He asked one of the drivers to come over and translate for us. He asked what happened and who started it. We told him what happened, that the soldiers swore at the passengers, calling them names like son-of-a-bitch, and that they demanded that the women check themselves by running their hands over their bodies. We spoke with the officers for about fifteen minutes. One of them gave us back our ID cards and asked us to go back to the cars, which were waiting at the checkpoint. It was 3:30 P.M.
Muhammad Sadiq Mahmud Hamarneh, 22, is a student and a resident of 'Atsira a-Shamaliya in Nablus District. His testimony was given to Salma Deba'i at Checkpoint 17 on 5 November 2006.