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From the field

Israeli soldiers use Jihan D'adush, 11, as human shield, Nablus, February 2007

Jihan D'adush, 11


Last Wednesday [28 February], at around 8:00 A.M. , about twenty Israeli soldiers came to our house and gathered us in one room. One of the soldiers spoke Arabic. He asked us how we were and if we knew anything about the young men who were firing from the roofs of houses nearby. The soldier said it would be to their advantage and ours if we told them. My father said we didn't know anything because the men shoot at night, while we are asleep. After 15-20 minutes, the soldiers left the house. We heard explosions, banging on the doors, and shots being fired outside.

Around 4:00 in the afternoon, soldiers came back to our house. This time, there were more than thirty soldiers. They gathered us in one room and closed the door. They let us go to the bathroom and bring food and drinks. About an hour later, one of the soldiers opened the door and motioned my father to go to him. My father went to him, and the soldier closed the door. My father returned about ten minutes later. Over the next half hour, the soldier called to my father three more times, every ten minutes or so. My father told us that they asked him about nearby houses and about an abandoned house.

Around eight o'clock, a soldier came into the room and motioned to me and my sister, Hanan, who is fifteen, to come to him. We went over to him, and the soldier told Hanan to stay in the living room. He took my hand and told me to come out. He directed me to the yard outside. I stayed in the yard alone, except for a soldier, who was eating there. Later, Hanan told me that the soldier asked her about the young men who were doing the shooting. She told him that she didn't know anything, and he took her back into the room where the rest of the family were.

When I was in the yard by myself, my mother was in the kitchen preparing food. She saw me and told me to go over to her. I went to her. The soldier came back, and when he didn't see me, he called out my name. I wanted to go to him, but my mother shouted at me and came over to pull me to her. The soldier came over and didn't let my mother come to me. He told her to move back. He ordered me to go out to the yard.

The soldier told me, in Arabic, ""Are you familiar with the houses?" I told him I don't know anything. I stay at home and send my little brother, Hamzeh, who is four, to buy me sweets." The soldier said, "How do you send him? He is small." I told him the store is close by. He said, "Your sister Hanan told me that you know everything." I said, "What things? My sister doesn't know what she is talking about." He said, "You know the houses belonging to the guys who are shooting at us, and you know which tunnels they are hiding in." I told him I didn't know. He said, "You are lying, and I'll take you to jail. Put out your hands!" I put my hands by my chest. I was really scared he would arrest me and that I wouldn't see my father again. I told him, "I know that nobody lives in the house next to Judallah's house." The soldier asked where it was, and I tried to explain. But I don't think he understood. He spoke in a violent way, with a rough voice. He was short and had dark-brown skin.

In the meantime, about twenty soldiers had come into the yard. The soldier said, "We don't know the house, come and show it to us." I told him, "What do you want from me. I told you about the house." He said, "Don't be scared, we're with you." He motioned me to come outside. I went down the steps leading to the neighborhood. The soldiers walked behind me. The soldier had his weapon aimed in front of him. He said to me, "Slowly, slowly, don't be scared, we're with you."

After walking about fifty meters, we got to steps at the entrance to the abandoned house. The soldier asked me, "What is this?" I told him that I don't know. "This is the house," I said, "I don't know any other house. Let me go back home." Three soldiers took me home. This time, the soldiers walked in front and I was behind them. The soldier did not take me back to the room where my family was. We stopped in a room where twelve soldiers were eating. One of the soldiers gave me a piece of a biscuit.

A few minutes later, the soldier who spoke Arabic returned. He motioned me to come to him. He was standing next to the door of the room. I went over to him and said, "What do you want. I told you about the house. What do you want?" "Don't be scared, we're with you," he said. He ordered me to walk toward the house. Three soldiers walked behind me. At the house, there were lots of soldiers. The soldier ordered me to go inside. The soldiers followed me into the house. The house was dark, and the soldiers lit it up with their flashlights. There were locked rooms and a kitchen. The soldier asked me what room we were in, and I told him it was a kitchen. He asked me about the stairs leading to the roof. I showed them to him, and the soldiers went onto the roof and then came back. After that, he said, "Thank you, but don't tell anybody."

Two soldiers accompanied me to my house. Around 10:00 o'clock, they took me back to the room where my family was. I was shaking from fear. I was afraid they were going to kill me or put me in jail. The only thing I wanted was to sleep. I asked my mother to let me go to sleep. I woke up frightened a few times during the night'… The soldiers left the house around 3:00 in the morning. I am still scared they'll come again and take me.

Jihan Nimer Shahir D'adush, 11, is a student, and a resident of the Old City in Nablus. Her testimony was taken by Salma Deba'i at the witness's house on 5 March 2007.