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Testimony: Soldiers beat young man and steal money during search for wanted person, October 2007

Iyad Rahal, 24

Iyad Rahal

I live with my wife in a house that we share with my parents and siblings. Our bedroom is on the second floor. I work for a man who sells chickens and I usually work at night. When I get home in the morning, I go to sleep.

Two days ago [30 October], I returned home around 5:30 in the morning and went to sleep. About two hours later, my wife went to her parents' house and I continued sleeping. After a while, I woke up to the sound of pounding on my bedroom door.

Before I could get out of bed, six masked, helmeted soldiers came into the room. They were in uniform and had army equipment and rifles. They began to beat me while I was still in bed. They hit me with their hands and rifles and kicked me. I didn't know what they wanted. I asked them why they were beating me. One of them replied: '“What, you don't know why? We have been looking for you for two years and you don't know why we are beating you?'” I asked him: '“Who are you looking for?'” He replied: '“Who are you?'” I told him that I am Iyad. He told me I was lying. I gave him my ID card for him to check. One of the soldiers took the card and asked me to tell him by ID number. I recited the number and the beating stopped a bit. The soldiers demanded that I show them where my brother Ihab was. I told them I didn't know. They began to beat me again and demanded that I tell them where he was. They hit me with their hands and rifle butts and kicked me. One of them aimed the barrel of his rifle at my stomach and pressed it into my flesh, saying Ihab's name as he did it.

They beat me for about thirty minutes. They came and went but there were two soldiers with me all the time. They began to destroy the furniture in the room. Every time they broke something, one of them demanded that I tell him where Ihab was, and threatened that if I didn't tell them, they would break all the furniture. I told them that I didn't know where Ihab was. The soldier broke the furniture - the closet door, the plants, everything that was lying on the closet, and the bed. I heard my mother shout to them and ask that they stop beating me. The soldier told me: '“You hear your family? Tell us where Ihab is and we'll let you be.'” I repeated that I didn't know where he was. Every time that I said I didn't know where he was, they beat me.

After they beat me for some time, I heard my mother say, '“Ihab, don't be frightened, whoever goes to jail ends up getting out'”. I understood that Ihab was in the house and that the soldiers had arrested him. Before that, I didn't know he was in the house. He is wanted and doesn't stay with us all the time. A few minutes later, the soldiers took me to the living room on the first floor. Before entering the room, I saw Ihab. Then the soldiers blindfolded me and put me in the living room, where they were holding him.

A few minutes later, the soldiers took me outside to one of the jeeps. My hands were cuffed behind my back and I was blindfolded. They put Ihab into the same vehicle and took us to the Sallem army base. At the base, a person in army pants and a black shirt came over to me. He said he was an officer. He asked me if I was Iyad. I said I was. He held my ID card and bag. He asked me if I had been in prison. I said, '“Yes, but there is no evidence against me.'” He asked me what my ID number was and I told him. Then he said, '“You can go, but your brother is going to stay with us.'” The soldiers blindfolded me and put me in a jeep. They dropped me off near Ya'bed. I didn't have any money, so I hitched a ride home.

When I got home, my wife was still at her parents' house. My mother was in the house and the door to my room was closed. My mother sent my brother to call for my wife and she asked me if my wife was wearing her gold jewelry. I said I didn't know. Then I found out that they had taken my mother's purse with the money and that she had managed to get it back. I searched our bedroom and found the bag in which I kept the money. It had been thrown onto the floor, but the 2,500 Jordanian dinars that I had in it were missing. Inside a pocket of the bag I found my wife's jewelry.

Iyad 'Abd al-Man'am Sadiq Rahal, 24, is a laborer and a resident of Silat a-Thahr in Jenin district. The testimony was given to 'Atef Abu a-Rub at the witness' home on 1 November 2007.