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Testimony: Solider assaults Nasser a-Nawaj'ah and takes a video cassette on which he had documented settler violence, June 2008

Nasser a-Nawaj'ah

Nasser a-Nawaj'ah

At around 6:20 P.M. today [20 June 2008), I drove in my car from Khirbet Susiya to Yatta. 'Abd al-Jabbar Khaled Nawaj'ah, my 14-year-old cousin, was in the car with me. On the way, we saw three settlers pushing four or five shepherds and forcing their flock from the land of the Hushiyeh family, northwest of the Susiya settlement. They were about 200-300 meters from the settlement. There were more settlers in a Toyota or Mitsubishi van, license-plate number 878020, and a blue Subaru station wagon. I didn't notice if they were armed. I also saw an army jeep with six or eight soldiers. One of them was an officer with a rank of one grape leaf [major]. The settlers attacked the shepherds right in front of the soldiers, who did nothing.

I stopped my car for a moment and quickly wrote down the license-plate number of the settlers' car. I decided to go home, to Khirbet Susiya, and get my video camera so I could film the incident. When I got back, less than five minutes later, the three settlers were still harassing the shepherds. The shepherds asked the soldiers to help them, but they didn't intervene.

I got out of the car and filmed for four or five minutes. A soldier came over to me and showed me an order stating we were in a closed military area. I filmed the order and left the closed area. From about 50-60 meters away, I continued filming the incident. A soldier came over to me. He was heavy set, average height, and had a light complexion. I think he was about 35 years old. He asked me where I was from and I told him I was from Khirbet Susiya,. I showed him my ID card and my B'Tselem employee card. The soldier said, “Fuck B'Tselem.” He threatened that soldiers would come to my house, and that I'd see what happened then. He ordered me to stop filming and I told him it was legal for me to film. He asked me what law permitted me to film. He was very hostile, so I stopped filming and retuned to my car.

I gave the camera to my cousin, who had remained in the car all the time. I started driving and in the mirror, I saw an army jeep driving behind me. The jeep had a green and yellow flag. Another jeep approached me from a different direction and blocked the road. I turned off the engine. The soldier who had threatened me got out of the jeep and, with two other soldiers, came toward my car from behind. I began filming the soldier standing alongside the door of my car. He hit the camera with his hand and ordered me to stop filming. Then he grabbed the camera from my hand and gave it to one of the other soldiers. A third soldier opened the camera and removed the cassette.

The soldier who threatened me ordered me to show him the car documents and my ID card, and to get out. He cursed B'Tselem and Ta'ayush. I tried to explain that I have the right to film and that I hadn't broken the law, but he told me to shut up. He punched me hard in my left ear and then went over to my cousin and told him, “Don't be bad like Nasser. Study and become a doctor.” The soldiers took my laptop computer from the car, threw it in the air, and caught it. One of them suggested taking the computer to the Shin Bet (ISA), but the others objected. They gave it back to me. The soldiers got back into the jeep and drove off. The settlers and shepherds were already gone.

After the two jeeps left, I looked for the camera and cassette. I found the camera on the ground behind my car. It was in one piece. I didn't find the cassette. I continued on my way to Yatta. While driving, I saw one of the army jeeps by the entrance to the Ma'on settlement.

I called the police. A policeman spoke with me in Arabic and suggested that I contact the Military Police or go to the police station in Kiryat Arba. Later on today, I'll go to the police station to file a complaint.

Nasser Muhammad Ahmad a-Nawaj'ah, 26, is a local coordinator of B'Tselem's camera distribution project and a resident of Khirbet Susiya, in the Southern Hebron Hills. He  gave his testimony to Musa Abu Hashhash on 20 June 2008 in Yatta.