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Testimony: Border Police break arm of Halimeh a-Shawamreh, near the Separation Barrier, Deir al-‘Asal al-Foqa, March 2009

Update: On 7 January 2010 the MPIU informed B'Tselem that upon conclusion of the investigation, the case was closed for lack of evidence.

Halimeh a-Shawamreh, 57

Halimeh a-Shawamreh

I live in Deir al-‘Asal al-Foqa, a village southwest of Dura. Four years ago, Israel built a section of the separation fence about fifty meters from our house, and the army doesn't let us go close to it.

I have eight children. The eldest is Muhammad, 28, and the youngest is Nadi, 14. My husband has a birth defect in his left leg, and he can't work. Muhammad lives and works in Ramallah. My son Hussein, 22, was injured in 2004 by fragments from a grenade the army fired during training, while he was in the pasture. He lost his right eye, and ever since has been treated at Sheikh Jarrach Hospital, in Jerusalem. My son Fadi, 25, suffers from an illness the doctors haven't been able to diagnose. He vomits all the time, and he can't work. Nadi is epileptic.

I am the family's sole breadwinner. I do whatever I can to make money, even a small amount. I rent land from people in the village, and work it with my donkey, growing crops on it. Sometimes, I sneak into Israel through Jinba to Rahat or Beersheva and work picking fruit. We used to receive an allotment from the welfare office, but that stopped three years ago, when my sons got older.

On 11 March 2009, after 10:00 P.M., I noticed that my donkey, which had been tied up next to the house, got loose and ran away. It ran toward the separation fence, and the rope tied to it got caught in the wire. Fadi wanted to go and bring the donkey back, but I was afraid policemen would come, so I didn't let him. I decided that I would go. I went to the donkey and untangled the rope.

As I was doing that, a green Toyota vehicle belonging to the Border Police pulled up and stopped next to me. Two policemen got out and came over to me. The driver remained in the vehicle. One of them grabbed the reins of the donkey, and the other tried to remove the rope from my arm. The policeman holding the reins told me, in Arabic, to let the donkey go. He said that, if I wanted to get the donkey back, I'd have to go to Beersheva and pay 1,000 shekels, I told him I didn't have that  much money, and that I needed the donkey for work the next day.

The policeman that held the rein,  grabbed my left arm, and the other policeman smashed me in the elbow with his rifle. It hurt a lot and I cried out. The policeman who hit me mimicked my shout. I said, “You broke my arm" and he said I was lying. One of them said I was under arrest. I released the rope, and one of them grabbed it. Despite the pain, I stretched out my arm and grabbed the rope again. They cuffed my arms with metal cuffs. The pain worsened, and I couldn't bear it. I fell to the ground. I told them I would file a complaint against them at the Civil Administration. One of them said they didn't assault me, and that they didn't break my arm. They probably realized I had been injured, because they removed the cuffs and went back to their vehicle and drove off.

As soon as they left, my husband, Kamal, 52, arrived. He said he heard me shouting, but didn't dare come because of the policemen. He sprayed water on my face and helped me get back home. He released the donkey, heading him in the direction of the house. I was in great pain, but we couldn't go to the hospital at night. Not having the telephone number, we didn't know how to call for an ambulance. I decided to go to an elderly woman in the village who cures people using folk techniques. The woman, Zabeidah, told me my arm was broken. She bandaged it, and I went home. The pain was so great that I couldn't sleep the whole night. I waited until morning, when I went by shared taxi to ‘Aliyah Hospital, [in Hebron]. An X-ray showed a fracture. An orthopedist put a cast on the arm and gave me medication for the pain. He asked me to return to the hospital on 27 April 2009.

Since then, I have not been able to work in the field or in the house. On cold nights, the pain makes it impossible for me to sleep.

Halimeh 'Abd Rabbo Muhammad a-Shawamreh, 56, married with eight children, is a farmer and a resident of Deir al-'Asal al-Foqa in Hebron District. Her testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash at the witness's house on 31 March 2009.