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Israeli soldiers use a Palestinian man, ‘Abd a-Rahim Gheith, as human shield during clashes in Jericho

On Friday, 9 March 2018, at midday, clashes developed between dozens of Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers near the southern entrance to the city of Jericho, close to the settlement ...
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Israeli soldiers use a Palestinian man, ‘Abd a-Rahim Gheith, as human shield during clashes in Jericho

On Friday, 9 March 2018, at midday, clashes developed between dozens of Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers near the southern entrance to the city of Jericho, close to the settlement of Vered Jericho. The youths threw stones at the soldiers, who fired stun grenades, tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets at them.

At around 4:00 P.M., ‘Abd a-Rahim Gheith, a 34-year-old electrician and father of a month-and-a-half-old baby boy, finished his work for the day in Jericho and set out for his home in Dahiyat al-Bareed near the town of a-Ram. When he reached the southern entrance to Jericho, soldiers detained him, took his ID card, ordered him out of his car and handcuffed him. In video footage shot by freelance journalist ‘Adel Abu Ni’meh, soldiers are seen positioning Gheith’s car so it faces the demonstrating youths, then opening its doors and using the car as cover while they fire at the youths. They sat Gheith down on a traffic island about three meters away from them, handcuffed and defenseless. Some of the stones thrown at the soldiers hit Gheith, and he was injured in the legs, back and head. Stones also struck his car, damaging it.

The soldiers kept Gheith in this position for about two hours, and only then did they transfer him to a military ambulance for first aid. At around that time, the clashes ended and the soldiers informed him that he was free to go and told him to make his own way to a hospital. While Gheith, injured and in shock, searched for his belongings and his car keys to drive to hospital, his cousin arrived and said the Red Crescent had contacted him. The cousin was carrying Gheith’s belongings, which the military had handed over to the Red Crescent while he was receiving first aid in the military ambulance. Gheith was taken to the Jericho state hospital. His discharge papers noted that he had sustained lacerations to the forehead, neck, back and both hands.

Using a passer-by for instrumental purposes, endangering his life and placing him in a humiliating position in total disregard for his rights and safety, is unlawful and fundamentally unacceptable. The fact that the soldiers behaved this way in broad daylight, for hours, indicates how routine the military’s arbitrary use of power against Palestinians has become throughout the West Bank – a daily reality that has existed for more than fifty years.

In a testimony he gave to B’Tselem field researcher ‘Amer ‘Aruri on 14 March 2018, ‘Abd a-Rahim Gheith related:

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Abd a-Rahim Gheith. Photo by ‘Amer ‘Aruri, B'Tslem, 14 March 2018

On Friday, I finished work in Jericho and got into my car to head home. I live in Dahiyat al-Bareed near a-Ram. When I got to the southern exit from Jericho, at about 4:00 P.M., I discovered a confrontation going on between young guys and the army. The soldiers were about 200 meters from the kids.

I found myself near the soldiers and then one of them demanded to see some ID. He said I wasn’t allowed through and that I had to go back to Jericho. I told him I couldn’t turn back because there was stone-throwing. At that point, a soldier came up – I think she was the officer in charge – and ordered me out of the car. Another soldier tied my hands behind my back and sat me down on a traffic island in the middle of the road. One of the soldiers moved the car and parked it facing the stone-throwers, about three meters away from me.

The soldiers opened the doors of the car and hid behind them, firing towards the kids. Some stones hit me, mostly in my legs. I thought I wouldn’t make it out of there alive and that I’d never see my wife and son again. After about an hour, a stone hit me in the left eyebrow. At that point, the soldiers made me sit on the ground behind one of the car doors. My head was bleeding but no one offered me any help.

After about ten minutes, the soldiers picked me up off the ground. As I stood up, a stone hit me in the back. They took me to a military ambulance that was standing some distance away from the road. In the ambulance, they cleaned off the blood, put a Band-Aid on my eyebrow and let me go. One of the soldiers said: “Go back to your car and drive to a hospital”. I went back to the car and saw that the fighting was over. There was no one around.

I couldn’t find my car keys or my wallet. The windshield and headlights were broken, and the front part of the car was damaged on the left side. Soon after, my cousin showed up and told me that the Red Crescent team had been given the car keys and the rest of my stuff by the soldiers. The Red Crescent people had used my cell phone to redial the last number I’d called, and that’s how they got to my cousin.

I drove to the state hospital in Jericho. They did a CT scan and dressed my wounds. Fixing the windshield cost 700 shekels (~200 USD) and I still haven’t got the rest of the damage repaired. After everything that happened I was in shock and didn’t go in to work for five days. I couldn’t believe I was still alive. The soldiers had put me in real danger.

Video filmed by: ‘Adel Abu a-Ni’meh

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