'Azzun 'Atma, Thu 25.6.09, Afternoon
‘Azzun ‘Atma,Thursday 25.6.09, afternoon
Observers: Yehudit L., Mia G-Z (reporting)
We arrived at 17.00 at the upper checkpoint. 2 men were waiting to be checked at the entrance. Checking of document of a man waiting to exit.
18.00 As we left, two ‘shabakim’ were waiting for checking. They had been waiting since 17.45 and were released only at 20.00 (according to a telephone conversation).
When we entered the village one inhabitant told us about being attacked by a soldier.
After a few minutes a man arrived who had been present at the incident and in fact he himself had just returned home after being arrested.
This was the story: On Sunday evening at about 21.30 five Palestinians wanted to return home to their village after work. They entered via a big hole in the fence which, according to him, the army deliberately leaves open. A few soldiers, hidden behind the bushes, immediately caught them. The soldiers made them sit on their knees with hands behind their backs. One of the soldiers shouted at one of the men: ‘I’ll bash your face in, you maniac!’ He started kicking him in his lower back and buttocks. The man said he saw the face of the soldier. The soldiers shouted at them not to look behind. The kicked man, A., began to collapse and the others tried to hold him so that he wouldn’t be hurt more. They told the soldiers to call an ambulance – which the soldiers did but only after a long time. The soldiers took them to the lower checkpoint of ‘Azzun ‘Atma to meet an army ambulance. A woman soldier put an oxygen mask on A. The ambulance took him to hospital, apparently in Qalqiliya. Until the day we came, A. was still in hospital.
The man told us that the officer who is known in the area “responsible for all this section of the fence” [his name is perhaps Hamadallah], saw the abusive soldier. After A. was taken to hospital, the soldiers left the other 4 Palestinians next to the checkpoint waiting to be collected, on their knees and with hands tied tightly behind their backs, and blindfolded. They were handcuffed from 03:00 until they were arrested at Huwarra at 16.00. “Their hands were stuck together.”
The checkpoint soldiers guarded them while the original soldiers returned, presumably to the same gap in the fence. While they were at the checkpoint an army jeep arrived and the officer in charge of the checkpoint soldiers said to one of them: ‘Say that you are responsible and say that I saw what happened so that we won't say what happened there.”
When a policeman came he questioned the checkpoint soldier – who in fact hadn’t seen the incident.
At some point they put the men in a jeep and took them on a long journey of a few hours. The man thought they were in the north. When they reached the ‘cage’ their handcuffs and blindfolds were removed. When he asked where they were, the soldiers said ‘Huwarra.’ After 2 days, two of the men were taken – he does not know if they have been released. He and another man were released on Wednesday afternoon, on bail of 1200 shekels.