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From the field

Testimony: Soldiers fire at Khaled Abu Harbid, wounding him while he is collecting gravel near Erez Crossing, 19 June 2010

Khaled Abu Harbid, 21

Khaled Abu Harbid

I am twenty-one years old. Three months ago, I became engaged. I am a laborer and live in Beit Hanun.

Just over a year ago, I worked for a few months collecting gravel in the former industrial area next to Erez Crossing and in the area north of Beit Lahiya where the settlements used to be. Due to the gunfire by soldiers at the workers, I stopped working there.

I found a job in a paints and building-materials factory in Beit Hanun. I worked there for a few months, making about 1,000 shekels a month. The plant closed down operations due to a lack of raw materials and the harsh economic situation in the Strip following the closure./>

I decided to go back collecting gravel, so that I could support my family of eight – me, my mother and father, and my five brothers. I had no choice because we had no permanent income and nobody else in my family was working.

On Saturday, 19 June 2010, around 7:30 A.M., I was collecting gravel in the industrial area next to Erez Crossing. With me were four other workers. We were about 500 meters from the army post on the border fence. I knew it was forbidden to go closer than 300 meters. The Israeli army had distributed leaflets warning the workers, so I tried to keep my distance from the fence.

It was calm when I got to work. When I started working, fire broke out from the army post. A shot hit me right in the stomach and right thigh. I fell to the ground and was unable to move. I lost consciousness./>

I woke up an hour and a half later in Kamal ‘Adwan Hospital. The doctors had me x-rayed and examined me thoroughly. They took me into surgery, and I woke up a few hours later. My relatives and fellow workers told me that, after I fell, a worker named ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Kafarneh, 18, who had also been wounded, came to me. Workers put me on a wagon and took me away, while the Israeli gunfire continued. They got me to the road leading to Erez Crossing, and from there I was taken by motorcycle to the Palestinian police checkpoint, which is called the Customs Checkpoint. One man was driving the motorcycle and another sat in the back, holding me. From the checkpoint, I was taken by passenger car to the hospital.

The surgery lasted three hours, and I got thirty stitches in my stomach. I also have a wound on my back, where the bullet entered. The doctors preferred to leave the fragments, because they were afraid that it would make things worse if they removed them. I was hospitalized for nine days./>

I planned to get married after the month of Ramadan, and I had prepared the apartment over my parents' house, but due to the wound, I had to stop everything. I don't know when I can get back to work. I am still receiving medical treatment for the injury.

When I get my health back, I won't go back to collecting gravel. I'll find other work./>

Khaled ‘Abd a-Nasser Saber Abu Harbid, 21, is a laborer and a resident of Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip. His testimony was given to Khaled al-'Azayzeh on 6 July 2010 at the witness's house.