Nablus

Jul-5-2003
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Summary: A "reasonable"
officer, but beating of a detainee.

A donkey cart driver said he was fined 250 NIS by the
"blue" police for not having lights and horn. At the
checkpoint the traffic seemed brisk - with some 4 soldiers and two
officers. The officers were passing women quickly. Sadly, the radio
announcement about removal of age limitations for men was not
reflected in reality. Men aged 16-40 were stopped and could talk
their way through only by providing special reasons. However,
officer G. seemed quite open to "special reasons". Quite
a few men accompanying wives with children were let through, and
even some single men waving medical certificates. But others,
including students with magnetic cards, were stopped. A number of
young men tried repeatedly to pass, with no success. The army
water-container at the end of the queue was empty. It was not
refilled despite promises. Women who were let through easily had
trouble pushing their way through the dense fenced queue, as did
people who came from the opposite direction. G. said that he had
tried to arrange for more than one line, but the Palestinians
destroyed the arrangements. We learned that people were hunted by
soldiers at night, while trying to pass when the checkpoint is
closed. There was some disturbance that we did not see at the end
of the queue, soldiers went, returning with a young man that we had
seen before, trying to pass with his wife and small kid. The man,
A., was obedient until the soldiers decided to handcuff him. At
this moment he went to pieces, and the situation deteriorated. It
took three soldiers to hand- and leg-cuff A. They threw him on the
ground, kicked him all over, sat on his head. He resisted, swore,
threatened to bomb their roadblock and their families in Tel Aviv.
The waiting crowd, annoyed by the delay, volunteered advice to the
soldiers. The soldiers said that after 3 weeks at the checkpoint we
would become beastly too, and that A. is a seasoned criminal. At
this unfortunate moment, officer G. took off for a man-hunt in the
mountains, leaving three very angry soldiers in charge. A. was
dragged into a small concrete enclosure at the end of the
road-block. He started banging his head against concrete blocks.
The soldier who guarded him enjoyed walking over his body, and
taunting him. We tried to have the tight handcuffs on the
prisoner's back relaxed a bit -- unsuccessfully. The soldier said
that his sister was killed in a bus-5 bombing. We were ordered off
- "closed military zone". We approached and moved away,
gave the guy water, called around. Meanwhile the soldiers arrested
another guy of about 17(?) for repeated efforts to pass; a
suggestion was made to tie both prisoners together and to put them
in the improvised jail above, but they ended up just hand-cuffed
and blindfolded. An officer from the DCO finally showed up, but was
quite ineffective, except for calling us liars and warning us about
the dangerous A. Meanwhile the checkpoint became unruly, with only
two soldiers manning it. People were pressing forward and the
soldiers kept closing the checkpoint repeatedly until the crowd
moved back behind the plastic barrier. After an hour and a half, G.
returned, sent the two detaineesinfo-icon home, and things quieted down
again. On the drive back, at Tapuah intersection (10 min drive
away), we saw a small crowd stopped at a checkpoint manned by
reservists. People said they had already been checked at Huwwara.
we tried to reason with the reservist, but he said they may have
come from the mountains.