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From the field

Testimony: Soldiers assault family members in a-Duheisheh in the course of arresting the father, August 2008

Fidaa Abu 'Aqer, nurse

Fidaa Abu 'Aqer

I am a nurse and I work at a medical clinic in the Halhul area. My husband works at a gas station opposite the a-Duheisheh Refugee Camp. We have three children, aged 7, 13, and 14.

Since the first intifada, my husband has been held in administrative detention a few times, the last time for fifteen months, beginning in 2006. All together, he has been held in administrative detention for a total of five years. Since his last release, we've been afraid he would be detained again.

Two days ago [Thursday, 14 August] at approximately two in the morning, we woke up to someone knocking on the door. My husband went to open the door. I looked at the bedroom window, and I saw a military jeep parked on the side of the road. I realized soldiers had come. Five soldiers entered our house. The faces of two of them were covered with paint. They shouted at us to come out of the rooms and stand in the living room. The children woke up terrified in panic. One of the soldiers told my husband, who was standing next to them, to get his ID card, and he brought it from the bedroom. The soldiers told the children and my husband to raise their shirts and take off their pants. My husband had to undress in front of the children. The soldiers told us to sit on the sofas in the living room. Two soldiers stood next to us and three went into the other rooms.

Fidaa Abu 'Aqer and two of her sons. Photo: Suha Zied, B'Tselem.
Fidaa Abu 'Aqer and two of her sons. Photo: Suha Zied, B'Tselem./>

We sat there for an hour and a half. We heard the soldiers throwing our things. The soldiers also went into the kitchen; we heard the sound of things being broken and shattered. One of the soldiers ordered my husband to get dressed so he could go with them. My husband went to the bedroom and got dressed. Then he went to the shoe closet, in the hallway opposite the bedroom. At the same time, three soldiers began to beat him. They assaulted him for no reason. They hit him in the back and legs with their rifle butts. My husband collapsed in front of me and the children.

My son Na'im, who is thirteen, couldn't stand seeing his father beaten so he swore at the soldiers. A soldier went over to Na'im and slapped him. When he was going to hit him again, I got up and stood between them. The soldier shouted at me and pushed me with his two hands, and I fell to the floor. I got up quickly because I was afraid the soldier would continue beating Na'im. I held my son and said to the soldier, “I ask for your compassion, don't beat him. He is only a small child who couldn't stand seeing you all beating his father, so he swore at you all.” The soldier shouted at me all kinds of things I couldn't understand. My youngest son cried loudly.

About ten minutes later, the soldiers told my husband to go outside, and they followed him. They didn't let us go out the door. I looked through the small window in the door and saw the soldiers cuff my husband's hands and put him in the jeep. Then they drove off quickly.

I locked the door and hugged my children. They were terrified, and I tried to calm them. I checked the rooms in the house and saw that the bedrooms were a mess. The dresser drawers were broken, clothes were scattered on the floor, and the beds were turned over. The computer in the children's bedroom was broken. All the closets were opened  and the drawers thrown to the floor. The house was a terrible sight.

I don't know where they took my husband and if they will put him in administrative detention again.

Fidaa Ra'fat Muhammad Abu 'Aqer, 34, married with three children is a nurse and a resident of the a-Duheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem District. The testimony was given to Suha Zeid on 16 August 2008 at the witness's home.