Testimony: Soldiers severely beat Nazir al-Haribat and abuse him near a-Ramadin, September 2009

Nazir al-Hreibat, laborer

Nazir al-Hreibat

I have eleven brothers and sisters, and I'm the second oldest. I live with them and my parents in Khirbet a-Tabaqa, about two kilometers southwest of Dura.

My oldest brother, Bashir, 23, and I are the only breadwinners for our large family. We have to take a risk and enter Israel to look for work, even though its hard to get there, especially since we don't have work permits because we are young.

We usually pass through the gaps in the fence in the area of Jerusalem, a-Za'ayem, a-Ramadin, and other places so we can get to the work sites. Once there, we have to sleep at the work site for a week or two, sometimes more.

Lately, entering Israel has become a dangerous and expensive adventure. It costs me about 400 shekels to get to Tel Aviv, and about 200 shekels to get back.

Last Tuesday [29 September], around 3:00 P.M., I left my house and rode to Dahariya, where I got into a GMC van. With me were another twelve laborers, who were from Dura, Beit ‘Awwa, and Bethlehem. The van drove us to a place close to the fence in a-Ramadin. West of the village there is a gap in the fence, through which laborers pass.

We waited by the fence for about an hour, until an army jeep that was near the opening left. Then we got back into the van and drove to the opening. The driver's assistant got out to check the road but then he disappeared. Before he disappeared, we heard him say, “soldiers!”

It was about 6:00-7:00 P.M., and dark. Before the driver could get away, three or four soldiers who were waiting in ambush for us on the other side of the fence appeared. They began to throw stones at our van.

We bent down and covered our heads with our bags to protect ourselves from the stones and from the pieces of glass that flew in the air and from the pieces of windshield, which had been shattered by the stones. The driver stopped the van, and the soldiers stopped throwing stones. One of the soldiers, who was standing about five meters from the van, told us to get out. We got out, the driver as well. Then the soldier told us to walk about ten meters from the van. The soldier ordered us to lift up our shirts, raise our hands, and then lie on the ground face down.

After I did that, the soldier who told us to get out of the van and lie down on the ground came over to me. He said, in Hebrew, “Get up and stand ten meters from the other laborers.” He arranged the order in which the other laborers were to lie on the ground, which he did by kicking them and stepping on their backs. Then he came back to me. In the meantime, other soldiers arrived, making a total of seven soldiers.

I heard a soldier ask from above me, “Are you the driver? Are you the driver?” I picked up my head to say that I wasn't the driver, and he hit me in the shoulder with his rifle butt, and told me to stay as I was. A short while later, he told me to bend my back, with my hands and knees on the ground. Then he began to kick me in the stomach. He kicked me hard a few times. He also hit me in the right shoulder with his rifle butt, and hit me really hard in the stomach, after which I began to vomit.

While he was beating me, whenever I raised myself and vomited, one of soldiers stepped hard on my back, pressing me to the ground. That happened two or three times. There were two other soldiers who beat me along with that soldier. They kicked me and hit me.

I continued to lie on the ground. I was in great pain and was vomiting, but the soldier didn't stop kicking me. He insisted that I remain lying face down. He spoke Arabic with an Arab accent. My mouth was closed. The soldier saw that and told me to open my mouth, and he lowered it to the ground. I did as he said, and dirt went into my mouth. I vomited.

 

I continued to vomit and about half an hour after the soldiers began to beat me, they stopped and called to one of the laborers to help me. The laborer held my head and I continued to lie there. My body hurt a lot, I vomited, and froth came out of my mouth. I remained like that for about an hour. Then I asked a soldier for water, but he refused, claiming that water would only harm me.

 

On the other side, the other laborers were lying on the ground. After the soldiers stopped beating me, I didn't see him or other soldiers assault them. Around 8:00 P.M., I asked the soldiers to let me pee. One of them allowed me. He took my ID card. He asked another soldier to collect the ID cards of the others.

In the meantime, after the soldiers had already stopped beating me, two Border Police vans and two army vehicles arrived. An army officer who saw me came over to me and asked who beat me. I looked at the soldiers but I didn't see any of the soldiers who had beaten me. When the vehicles arrived, some of the soldiers left on foot. Apparently the ones who had beaten me were among them.

Shortly after that, an army ambulance arrived. The IDF medics put an oxygen mask on my face for five minutes or so, and then one of them gave me a disposable white mask and asked me to press it to my mouth. He told me it was a gift from the IDF.

The ambulance took me to the Susiya settlement. At the entrance a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance was waiting. I don't know who summoned it. It took me to the ‘Aliyah Government Hospital. I arrived at around 10:00 P.M. My father and some relatives were waiting for me there.

I was examined and X-rayed. I was treated that night and discharged the next afternoon. I was given a prescription for medicines that I am still taking. On Thursday [8 October], I have to go back to the hospital for follow-up care. My stomach still hurts, and I also have spit and froth coming out of my mouth all the time.

Nazir Salem al-Hreibat, 21, single, is a laborer and a resident of Dura in Hebron District. His testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash in the witness' home on 4 October 2009.