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Testimony: Soldier beats Mahmoud 'Awwad, fracturing his skull, Jan. '09

Jad'an Shhadeh, taxi driver

Jad'an Shhadeh

I've been a taxi driver based at the Huwara checkpoint for eight years. Everyone is having a hard time financially, and the drivers really need customers. Every day, drivers come close to the checkpoint to look for passengers, and then soldiers detain them.

Last Tuesday [20 January], at around 1:30 P.M., some drivers and I came up to the checkpoint and soldiers shouted at us. They grabbed me and two other drivers and put us in the detention room. In the room was another guy, Fawzi. He told me that his brother, Na'im, was being held in the next room. Na'im has been working with me at the checkpoint for a few years. Fawzi spoke in Hebrew with a soldier and I didn't understand what they were saying. About fifteen minutes later, they released him. I saw a soldier hand him a wallet from Na'im, and then he left.

Fifteen minutes after that, I saw a soldier take Na'im from the room. The soldier was tall, about 1.80 meters, and light-skinned. I think he was Russian. He and another soldier beat and kicked Na'im and shouted at him in Hebrew. I didn't understand what they said.

Another soldier came over to me and to the others who were waiting with me. He gave us our ID cards and told us to leave. I walked a few meters and then heard shouts. I turned around to see what was happening, and I saw Mahmoud, another brother of Na'im's. The soldiers were shouting at him. He said, in Arabic, “This is my brother! What did he do to you?” The soldier who had beat Na'im lifted his rifle and hit Mahmoud on the head. Mahmoud fell to the ground.

There were lots of people on both sides of the checkpoint. Everybody came over to see what was happening. Some people picked up Mahmoud, ran with him to a taxi on the Nablus side of the checkpoint and put him inside it. Na'im ran with them, with his hands still tied. I got into my taxi and followed them to Rafidya Hospital [in Nablus].

They told me that doctors said his condition was serious and referred him to the Specialists Hospital [in Nablus] where he underwent surgery. I went with them to that hospital and stayed there until 10:00 P.M.

I couldn't believe what had happened. Mahmoud didn't do anything. He only talked with the soldiers. Anybody who saw soldiers beating his brother would have tried to talk with them. It's impossible not to intervene in a situation like that.

Around 1:00 P.M. yesterday [23 January], a few soldiers, among them the soldier who had hit Mahmoud, came to the taxi parking lot at the checkpoint. One of them asked me where I'm from, and I told him that I'm from Nablus. He asked me, “What happened to the fellow who was beaten yesterday?” I said, “He has a fractured skull and bleeding in the brain. Why did you do this?” He said that they had done it so everyone would be afraid of them. He asked me, “Who hit him?” I pointed out the soldier who had done it. Then they left.

Jad'an Nayef Hamed Shhadeh, 26, married with two children, is a taxi driver and a resident of Nablus. His testimony was given to Salma a-Deba'i at Huwara checkpoint on 24 Jan. '09