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From the field

Testimony: Member of security forces threatens to jail 13-year-old girl who touched the Separation Barrier, Nu'man, 6 January 08

Hiba a-Dar'awi, 13

Hiba a-Dar'awi

I live with my family in Nu'man and am in the seventh grade at the school in al-Khas. Every morning I walk from Nu'man to al-Khas and go through the checkpoint at the entrance to the village. My friends and I have to pass every day through a gate with a metal detector at the checkpoint On the way to school. When we come back, we have to pass through the gate again and the soldiers also search our bags.

I try to wear clothes that don't have metal in them so that the detector doesn't go off, which means I have to remove them. Once, my father bought me shoes for the winter, and the detector buzzed. The soldier forced me to take off my shoes. Since then, I haven't worn them.

On Sunday, 6 January, around 9:30 in the morning, I retuned from school following an exam. I was with a friend, Saffa Jamal Shawawrah. At the entrance, we were checked at the checkpoint and then continued to the village.

We were talking about the fence surrounding the village. When we were about one hundred meters from the checkpoint, Saffa told me that if you touch the fence, you get electrocuted and die. I told her I didn't think that was true, because there weren't any warning signs about death along the fence. We argued and then I told her I was going to touch the wire to prove she was wrong. I went to the fence, and Saffa stopped a bit behind me. I touched the fence once and went over to Saffa, happy that I had proved her wrong. We continued toward my house, which is located about one kilometer from where I touched the fence.

I got home and changed clothes. About ten minutes later, my sister Hiya, 14, came home in a panic. She said that the army was asking about me. I thought she was lying. I went outside, where five Border Policemen were waiting.  I was really frightened. One of them asked me if I had touched the wire. I said that I did, and he told me to come with him.

At that moment, my father returned and started arguing with the policemen. He said they couldn't take me. Saffa and Jamal a-Darawi were in the yard, which was surrounded by Border Police. Then the police ordered Saffa and me to get into the jeep. My father also got in. He sat down next to Saffa, and then a policeman got in. Saffa was really frightened. She moved to my side and sat very close to me.

The jeep began to move. I was afraid but happy that my father was with us. The jeep stopped and we were told to get out and go into a room in a caravan. The room had places to sit, the floor was filthy, and there was a bad smell. I felt I was going to vomit. My father told me to go outside. The three of us began to go outside and one of the policemen said it was forbidden to go outside. My father said we can't stay in the room because it was filthy. The policeman said nothing, and we went outside and waited on the road for a long time. My father told me we were at the checkpoint on the Jerusalem-Bethlehem road [Checkpoint 300 - B'Tselem].

Then they took us into a room with a dark-skinned interrogator dressed in civilian clothes. He asked me why I touched the fence. I told him I wanted to see if it was electric. He told me it was forbidden to touch the fence. He added that he was opening a file on me and that I would go to jail for six months. I replied: “All right.” He responded: “What are you doing, showing off?” You don't care about going to jail? You should know that we jail people younger than you.”

Around 3:00 P.M., they let us go. We got home around 4:00. I was tired and hungry. Luckily, I don't have school on Mondays, so I could stay home and study for my test on Tuesday.

Hiba Ibrahim Abu Sota a-Dar'awi, 13, is a student and a resident of Nu'man. Her testimony was given to Kareem Jubran at the witness's home on 8 January 2008.