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From the field

Testimony: Soldiers watch while settlers tie a Palestinian to a pole and beat him, 5 July '08

Medhat Abu Karsh, teacher and farmer

Medhat Abu Karsh

This morning, at 8:00, I went with my cousins Muhammad, 19, Mahran, 21, and Mulaz, 18, to my farmland in Halat 'Ajum, which is south of a-Samu' and west of the Asa'el settlement. My family has 200 dunams (about 50 acres) in this area, and we have papers that prove our ownership. We were supposed to meet other farmers and activists from Ta'ayush, who were going to help us harvest the crop.

We  reached the farmland around 9:00 before the other farmers arrived, and started working. Suddenly, we noticed that the fields were on fire. We began to extinguish it. I saw a settler and called to him, in Hebrew and Arabic, to help us, to bring water to put out the fire. The settler came over to me. I thought he wanted to help. Then I saw three other settlers heading toward my cousins with clubs in their hands. My cousins saw them too and ran away. I couldn't run because I had polio as a child and am handicapped in my left leg.

I thought I would manage to talk with them and get them to help me fight the fire, so it wouldn't reach the settlement. I tried to talk to them but one of them ordered me to sit down. I sat down and the four of them came over to me. One of them took off one of my shoes, took out the shoelace, and used it to tie my hands behind my back. Another settler took off my other shoe. They hit me with the clubs and punched and slapped me. Then they took me about 100 meters away, to an electricity pole about 50 meters from the settlement. I was barefoot and stepped on lots of thorns. The settlers used ropes to me to the pole by my legs and neck.

I saw an army jeep at the entrance to the settlement. I called out to the soldiers to help me, and three soldiers came over and stood about 15 meters from us. They didn't intervene. The four settlers beat me in the face and all over my body with their hands and clubs. Then a female settler and a male settler poured two buckets of water on my head and rubbed my face violently to remove the blood marks. The soldiers saw what was happening and did nothing to stop it. I think one of the three soldiers also wanted to assault me. He came up to me and swore at me, but another soldier stopped him.

While I was tied to the pole, my two cousins, the farmers, and activists from Ta'ayush arrived. The soldiers didn't let them get close so they stood about 25 meters from me and filmed me tied to the pole, while the settlers assaulted me.

I stayed tied to the pole about 40 minutes, maybe more, and then lots of soldiers and police arrived. One of them removed the rope from around my neck and legs. My head was bleeding, and people from the Civil Administration gave me first aid. I motioned where I had been injured and where it hurt. I lay on the ground, exhausted and in pain. I tried to sit up. One of the soldiers tried to help me but I couldn't. After a few attempts, I managed to sit up. I was really agitated and shaking. I felt as if I was about to collapse and lay back down on the ground. 

Then a soldier came over to me and said he was a doctor. He spoke Hebrew, and Amir, the officer from the Civil Administration, translated. He bandaged my head and said I could get treatment at a Palestinian hospital. I stayed where I was and waited for an ambulance. About an hour later, the soldiers put me in an Israeli ambulance. In the meantime, a police investigator in civilian clothes took my testimony. I was exhausted and could barely speak.

The army ambulance took me to the main road, where a Palestinian ambulance was waiting. I was taken to the 'Aliyah Government Hospital, in Hebron. I later learned that the Palestinian ambulance had come to the site about half an hour after the incident began, but the soldiers didn't let it enter the settlement, and it had to wait on the road.

When I was in the emergency room, I heard the muezzin call to noon prayers. It was around 12:30. At the hospital, I underwent tests and X-rays. I have bruises to my back, legs, and hands, and behind my right ear, as well as a cut to the top of my head that was closed with two stitches. The physicians discharged me and told me to return the next day for follow-up treatment.

I can describe the settlers who assaulted me. One of them is called Ayalon. He is heavy set, dark-skinned, of average height - around 1.7 meters tall, has a black beard with white parts,  and looks over 40. The other settler who assaulted me is younger, about 30, also heavyset, with a thin, black beard and, a light complexion, and of average height. The third settler looked like the second one. I don't remember what the fourth one looked like.

Medhat Radwan Abu Karsh, 30, married with two children, is a teacher and farmer and a resident of a-Samu' village in Hebron District. His testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash on 5 July 2008 in a-Samu'.