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From the field

Border Police deliberately run over foot of Muhammad Aghreib when he tries to enter Israel, February 2007

Mahmoud Aghreib, laborer,

Mahmoud Aghreib

I live with my wife and son, Wahid, who is two and a half months' old, in Tarqumiya. My father, 61, and mother, 55, live with us, as do my four brothers, my sister, and her two daughters, one of whom is handicapped. My four brothers and I work illegally in Israel . We requested permits, but our requests were denied because of our age. We support the whole family.

I have been unemployed for more than six months. During this period, I went to the Beersheva area three times looking for work. I found work once, for three days, during which I slept at the construction site.

Recently, I felt suffocated because I am not working, so last Sunday [4 February], I decided to go to Beersheva to look for work. My cousin from Tarqumiya, Ibrahim Hassan 'Ali Aghreib, came with me. We got to Hebron and then to a-Dahariya. From there, we traveled in a Ford van to the quarry area near the village of a-Ramadin. Eight or nine workers from a-Dahariya and Beit Kahel were in the van with us.

We got out near the quarries. We started our descent to the paved road, where cars were waiting to take us to Israel . About fifty meters before we got to the paved road, I heard a siren and realized that Israeli security forces were approaching. It was the time for evening prayers, and it was already dark. I saw a Border Police jeep a few meters from me. I was carrying a bag with clothes, cigarettes, a jacket, hammer, and nails. I threw the bag to the ground, turned around, and ran. I looked behind me and saw two border policemen running after me. They were shouting, "Stop! Stop!" I was afraid they were going to shoot me, so I stopped. I didn't see any of the other workers. Apparently, they were faster than me, or they had run in other directions.

I raised my hands. The two policemen grabbed my arms. One of them was tall, a bit overweight, and had on army overalls. The other one was short, in his twenties, and also had on army overalls. The tall policeman asked me my name. I said, "Mahmud Aghreib." "Liar," he shouted. I told him I wasn't lying, and that I can show him my identity card. I told him this was the first time that I tried to sneak into Israel . He said, "Everybody says that, and they are all liars'… I'll teach you a lesson so that you won't enter Israel again."

The tall one bent my right arm behind me and said something to the driver of the jeep, which was a meter or two from us. The engine was still running. The jeep moved a bit toward me. I thought he was trying to frighten me. He said, "This is first and last time you'll try?" I said, "Yes, the first and last time." He said, "You're a liar." He was still bending my arm. With his other hand, he motioned to the driver of the jeep to continue moving.

The jeep came toward me and when the front left wheel was next to my left foot, the policeman kicked my ankle so that my foot went under the wheel. The jeep drove over my foot and then backed up. I cried out. The tall police officer said, "That's it, enough." I fell to the ground, and the two of them got into the jeep and drove off.

I lay on the ground and cried out. About fifteen minutes later, Ibrahim came with five of the workers. One of them called the driver of the Ford van to come and pick me up, but he apologized and said he couldn't, because he feared the Border Police would catch him. Four of them carried me quickly about five hundred meters to where the van was parked. Generally, the van doesn't leave before the workers call and say that they got into cars and managed to get to Israel .

They took me to the medical clinic in a-Dahariya. The doctors checked my foot and referred me to the hospital. I went by taxi to the ' Aliyah Hospital [in Hebron ], where they examined me, X-rayed my foot, and bandaged it. The doctor said that I might have bruises after the swelling goes down. I was discharged about 11:30 P.M. The workers from Beit Kahel helped me get a taxi, and Ibrahim and I went home.

The next morning, I went back to the hospital, where they took another X-ray. They said my foot was badly injured and that I should return to the hospital in another five days. I spend all day in bed, and when I get up and walk, I use a cane. I have been in great pain, which made it impossible for me to sleep last night.

Mahmoud Wahid 'Ali Aghreib, 30, married with one child, is a laborer and a resident of Tarqumiya, Hebron District. His testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash at the witness's house on 7 February 2007.