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

Rajaai Abu 'Arqub, floorer

Rajaai Abu 'Arqub

I work in Givat Ze'ev [a settlement north of Jerusalem] and have a permit. Last Sunday [ 26 April], I went by taxi from the center of Dura to Wadi a-Shajena , arriving  around 3:30-4 P.M. I got out of the taxi about 100 meters from my house, and was carrying food in a plastic bag.  Suddenly, I saw an army jeep in the street.

As I walked toward my house, a soldier called out to me and asked how old I was. Twenty-six, I said. He was tall, full-bodied, and dark-skinned, about thirty years old, maybe a bit more. He didn't ask any other questions. He came over to me and started to hit me. He slapped and punched me. I stepped back, to get away from him, and said, “What do you want from me? I'm on my way home.” He grabbed me by the neck, forcefully. Two soldiers came over. One of them, who was fair-skinned and in his late twenties, handcuffed me, blindfolded me, and pushed me into the jeep. I sensed that somebody else was in the jeep and quickly realized it was my neighbor, Medhat Ibrahim Shahin, who is twenty-five. I wear glasses, and the soldiers put the blindfold over them, so I managed to see a bit.

Five minutes later, the soldiers removed the two of us from the jeep. I saw four other detainees, but couldn't identify them. All were cuffed and blindfolded. The soldiers made us walk in a line, each of us grasping the shirt of the person in front of him. We walked like this for about 300 meters. The soldiers shoved us into a big vehicle and sat us down on the floor. One of the soldiers gave each of us a number and said he would call us later by number. I was number four.

We drove for a few minutes, until we go to the Adurim army base, where they took us to a large room with chairs. It was around 4:30 A.M. As I entered the room, somebody hit me in the chest and said mockingly, in Hebrew, “Sorry.” A soldier removed the blindfold, took off my eyeglasses, and blindfolded me again. They sat us down on the chairs. Soldiers came and went from the room and beat us:  they slapped and kicked us. I heard them call one of the soldiers Oren. A soldier came over and told me, saw that my eyeglasses hung on my shirt., and said “Your glasses are nice.” He kicked me in the chest and hit me and my glasses. I cried out in pain. Another soldier asked what happened, and the soldier who kicked me said he hit me by mistake.

While sitting in the room, I managed to identify the voices of two of the detainees: my uncle 'Ayesh Hassan 'Ajwah , 31, and Muhammad Isma'il Abu ‘Arqub, 17. Later, soldiers removed the blindfolds and handcuffs, one after the other, fingerprinted us, and then cuffed and blindfolded us again. We repeatedly asked to go to the bathroom and requested  water. Only after midnight did they let us go to the bathroom, and one of them brought us water.

We sat there like that for hours. Around 1:30 A.M., soldiers turned on the TV and began to play soccer on a Play Station. They shouted and laughed and mentioned names of soccer players, like Raul, Messi, and Zidan. They drank, ate, and laughed, but they didn't bring us any food.

I got very tired sitting in the chair. My whole body hurt, especially my neck and back. We were not allowed to sleep. At one point, Muhammad fell asleep and was snoring, so a soldier hit him. I heard him cry out. />

We sat like that until around 4:30 A.M., when a soldier called me and Saber by our numbers. They took us to an army jeep, where a soldier, standing outside the jeep, asked me where my identity card was. I told him it was in my back pants' pocket.  A soldier checked my pants' pockets, but he didn't take out my identity card. Instead, he pulled out my wallet and said, "What's this?" A few moments later, he put the wallet back in my pocket.

The soldiers put me into the jeep, violently, slapping and punching me. They also put Saber into the jeep, which drove slowly for 10-15 minutes. A soldier sat with us in the back. We sat on the floor. All the way, he swore at us, kicked us, and hit us with the butt of his rifle. When the jeep stopped, the soldiers pushed us out. I fell to the ground, and Saber fell next to me. While lying on the ground, two or three soldiers kicked us and hit us with their rifles. After a few minutes, they told us to get up. One of them removed my blindfold. I looked at him with an angry look on my face, and he said, “Why are you looking at me like that?” I told him I was looking at him in a normal way. He slapped me. It was dark, and I didn't know where we were. I asked him, “Where are we?” “Get out of here,” he replied. I walked a few steps, limping. He came over and kicked me twice. I continued walking, and the jeep drove off.

I managed to see a bit, due to the light from the street lights, and I also used the light from my cell phone. I opened my wallet and saw that the soldier had stolen 140 shekels from me.

We were on Route 60, 300 meters from my house. Saber and I walked until we reached the village in a few minutes later. I was totally exhausted when I got home. A half an hour later, 'Ayesh called and said that the soldiers had taken him and ‘Ali to Khursa, near the Abu Srar gas station. He could barely speak, he was so weak. I went by car with my father to pick up 'Ayesh and ‘Ali./>

Later, I went to al-Fawwar refugee camp, in Muhammad's brother Majd's car, and we all then went to the hospital. Rajaai told me that he underwent the same experience with the soldiers, who beat him and left him someplace. At the entrance to the village, we met my father, who was driving ‘Aish, and we took him with us to ‘Aliyah Hospital, where we were examined and treated.

 

I still feel terrible because of what I underwent. We sat in that room and got beaten, for about fourteen hours./>/>

Rajaai Taleb Hassan Abu 'Arqub, 26, single, is a floorer and a resident of Wadi a-Shajena in Hebron District. His testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash at the witness's house on 30 April 2009.
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