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Testimony: Soldiers come across Palestinians and detain and abuse them for hours, Dura, April 2009

Update: On 13 May 2013 the MAG Corps informed B'Tselem that the investigation file had been closed. The grounds for closing the case were not given.

'Ayesh 'Ajwah, floorer

'Ayesh 'Ajwah

Recently, I have been working in Israel without a permit. I have pain in my back and right leg, and the doctor found that I have a slipped disc. For the past three weeks, I have undergone tests and X-rays related to my back pain, so I haven't been working.

Last Sunday [26 April], in the morning, I went to Dr. Tawfiq Rahal, in Hebron. My nephew, Rajaai Abu ‘Arqub, 26, went with me. The doctor told me to get a CT of my back. It was too late to do it that day, so I decided to do it the next day. Rajaai invited me to his place to see my sister and have something to eat with them. They live in Wadi a-Shajena , near Dura. I planned to stay there for an hour and then go home. Rajaai and I got to his house around 3:30 P.M. Then he went to the center of Dura to get food. I prayed and rested, and waited for him to return.

Around 4:00 P.M., children from the family came to the house and said the army had detained Rajaai. Rajaai's mother, my sister, and another of my sisters ran into the street. I followed them so I could see what was happening. Also, because I speak Hebrew, I thought I could help. In the street, I saw two soldiers dragging someone I know, Muhammad Isma'il Abu ‘Arqub, 17, into their vehicle. My sisters asked me to go back into the house, and I agreed that that was best. The soldiers threw a stun grenade, and that further convinced me to go inside. The soldiers said it was forbidden to get close to them. I turned around and took four or five steps toward the house, when a soldier shouted at me. I turned around and looked at him. “Come here,” he said. Two soldiers ran toward me. One of them grabbed me with force. I said, “Slowly, slowly.” I explained that I was ill, and took out a medical report in English. I told him I wasn't from the village and that I didn't come to cause problems. He told me to shut up. I showed the report to another soldier, who was, I think, in charge, but he ignored it as well. They took me to an army jeep, whose rear door was open. I saw Rajaai inside. He was blindfolded and handcuffed.
 
A soldier cuffed my hands, blindfolded me, and put me into the jeep. A few minutes later, I heard that others were being detained. Soldiers told us to get out of the jeep and walk in a line, one behind the other, each holding the shirt of the person in front of him. We walked about 300 meters, where they forced us into a large vehicle. We sat on the floor. The vehicle drove for about five minutes, during which we fell over onto each other. Because it was a short trip, we realized they had taken us to the Adurim army base.
 
The soldiers pushed us into a big room and sat us down on chairs. They spoke among themselves, and I understood that they thought we were stone-throwers and trouble-makers. When they spoke about us, they always swore.

Every few minutes, soldiers came into the room and slapped us. I was wearing a hat. A soldier took it and threw it. He said to another soldier, “If you want the hat, you can have it.” The other soldier replied, “It's a red hat, and I don't really like red.” Soldiers beat me in the leg and head with a stick. I asked if we would remain there for long, and why they took us. One of them said “shut up” and then hit and kicked me. Later, I asked the same questions, and said I was ill and had to take my medication. I also said I was scheduled to have a CT. The soldiers who heard me laughed at me. They said I was lying, and asked each other, laughing, “Do you believe him?” They said there was no reason at all to listen to me. I continued to complain about what they had done, and whenever I tried to speak, they silenced me with blows or shouts. One of them said, “We'll release all of you except for this maniac. He'll stay in jail until Gilad Shalit is released.” A soldier played with my ear with a pen or stick. He hurt me, and when I shouted, he hit me in the head. Another soldier told the soldier who had hit me to move away from me, and he responded, “Because of these maniacs, I spent eight hours outside the base.” The other soldier said, “But what's their connection? They say they were arrested in their houses, and that they didn't do anything.” The other soldiers said, “They're lying.”

When the time for evening prayers came, I heard the muezzin and asked the soldiers to let me pray. A soldier said I'd be able to pray in five minutes. He asked me in which direction we pray, and I said, to the south. After five minutes passed, I asked him again when they'd let us pray, and the same soldier said it was forbidden; I told him I have to pray. He asked, mockingly, “What'll happen if you don't?” I said, “Allah will forgive me.” “Then ask Allah to forgive you.” None of us prayed. We had already missed the second afternoon prayers, and afterwards we missed the second evening prayers.

Hours passed. All the time, we sat in the same position on the chairs. My back hurt. I heard a soldier say it was already midnight, and a bit later, I told them I was in great pain and asked them to remove the handcuffs, at least for a few minutes. A soldier said, “What, do you want to escape?” I remained handcuffed. We continued to sit. Muhammad fell asleep and snored, and the soldiers kicked him and woke him up.

The soldiers turned on the TV and played a soccer on a television game. They shouted all the time, mentioning names of players for Barcelona and Madrid.

The soldiers gave us numbers. I was given number one. A soldier came into the room and said, “count off,” and we were supposed to be counted. They did this about six times during the night. One time, I refused, and they couldn't start without me, because I was supposed to be the first. To punish me, the soldiers forced us to stand for about ten minutes. At some point, a soldier asked why we were sitting on chairs and not on the floor. Another soldier responded, laughing, “Because it's wintertime.”

Soldiers removed Rajaai and Saber from the room. My nightmare continued until 5:00 A.M., when a soldier called to me and ‘Ali and took us outside. They quickly put us into a jeep whose engine was already running. Two soldiers sat us on the floor of the jeep. One of them punched me hard in the head, and my head struck the jeep. That hurt a lot, more than the previous blows. Shortly after jeep began to move, I got hit hard in the shoulder by a rifle butt. The jeep drove for five or ten minutes and then stopped. The soldiers quickly took us out of the jeep. Apparently, two of the soldiers assaulted ‘Ali, because I heard blows and ‘Ali shouting. That lasted for a few minutes and then they shouted at us to get out of there.

The two soldiers came over to me and kicked me in the legs. One of them asked me where my identity card was. I said it was in my front pants' pocket. The soldier put his hands in all my pockets, other than the pocket with the identity card. He removed my wallet from my back pocket, and soon afterwards put it back. He cut the plastic cuffs and hit me in the armpit with the butt of his rifle. I turned around to them and one of them hit me in the waist with his rifle. I fell to the ground and was then kicked. The two soldiers beat me. I told them I was ill. One of them said, “Shut up,” and continued to beat me. I cried out and felt frustrated and helpless. There was no reason for what happened to me. The two soldiers were sadists.

One of the soldiers told me to take off the blindfold. When I did, he punched me in the head and told me get out of there. I took one step and got another blow in the back. I walked, but I didn't know where I was. I called brother-in-law, Rajaai's father, and I described to him my surroundings. He managed to understand where I was, and it turned out I was near the Abu Srar gas station, in Khursa. My brother-in-law came in his car to take me and 'Ali to their home. Then he took ‘Ali home, and after that we headed to the hospital. While we were driving, Majd, Muhammad's brother, called and asked us to meet him next to the village. There, I got into Majd's car and went to ‘Aliyah Hospital, arriving at 6:00 A.M. We underwent tests and were given medical reports.  Then we left.

After the jeep drove off, I opened my wallet and saw 600 shekels were missing. I had lots of money in the wallet to pay for the CT.

I am in pain.  The soldiers' blows left marks under my arms, on my shoulder, leg, and head.

'Ayesh Hassan Mislah 'Ajwah , 31, is a floorer and a resident of a-Samu' in Hebron District. His testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash at the witness's sister's house on 30 April 2009.