Azzun, Sat 3.5.08, Afternoon

Observers: 
Hagar L.(reporting) Natanya translating.
03/05/2008
|
Afternoon

Azzun Atma 

On
Saturday at 14.20 the head of the village council of Azun Atma phoned
me to say that a resident of the village had been beaten and hurt by
soldiers.  The soldiers had not allowed the ambulance to enter the
village to take the wounded man. I went to the village, parked on the
road at Elkane and a resident of the  village who knows  me (the
husband of one of the women who gave birth at the gate a few months ago
took me to the gate. By the way his son is growing and thriving. As
soon as I arrived there I photographed the soldiers who of course
immediately came to tell me that it was forbidden to photograph them.
On the way Agimie told me what he knew of the event. Unlike other
occasions the soldiers were happy to tell me what had happened and I
tell both versions of the story here, that of the soldiers and that of
the members of the family of the injured man.

The
soldiers' story.

  They did not attack anyone. In the afternoon there
were many cars and people entering and leaving the village. ( The
soldiers say that this is always so on a Saturday afternoon.  An
ambulance from Qalqiliya arrived to take a man who had been hurt in the
village. They did not know of anyone who had been hurt. Thd commander
decided to check with the DCO if the ambulance had a permit to enter.
When I asked if there were no procedure for an ambulance to enter
without a permit they said that there was but that the commander had
wanted to be "a good soldier" and to be sure and therefore he had
phoned. They said that it took 2 minutes to get a positive answer from
the DCO . But at the same time the family of the injured man arrived
and began to shout that there was an injured man in the village. About
20 more people began to arrive shouting  and wanted to throw a stone at
the soldiers. The commander told them that the ambulance could go
through but they would not obey and withdraw and cursed him. The
soldiers threw a shock grenade in the direction of the field which is
approximately at the line where cars which are exiting stop (on the
side of the stone checkpoint on the road).  After the grenade was
thrown people dispersed. The deputy mayor came and calmed them down. 15
minutes later the ambulance entered the village. When it exited the
nurse who was present checked it and he said that the injuries were
caused by blows . The man was conscious, breathed without difficulty
and did not seem to be having any other difficulties.  The soldiers say
that they saw him running with the people who had come close to the
soldiers.  At various times in our conversation the soldiers said that
there is a camerainfo-icon in the room where checking is carried out, where the
x-ray device is and that everything is filmed.

The
second lieutenant, A.  came in answer to the summons of the commander
of the checkpoint as the peace had been disturbed  and he phoned the
brigade commander asking for permission to let the ambulance through.
(Why did he did a special permit for the ambulance?) 15 minutes later
the ambulance entered the village. When I told the soldiers what the
version of the village people was they said that they had attacked no
one and maybe the people are referring to an incident which had taken
place in the morning. A man had come from Bidiya  and asked to enter
with a
stub which had been attacked
to a permit which had been presented to the Ministry of the Interior in
Qalqiliya wanting to change his address to Azzun Atma. The commander had
not been sure if this was legal and had phoned the DCO which said that
the man could not enter with such a permit. The driver had driven into
a car which had come out of the village, smashing the mirror and had
been chased.

 

The version of the family of the injured man.

While
I was speaking to the soldiers the deputy mayor was standing at the
side waiting for me. He and some other people took me to the family of
the man. They said that while I was standing and speaking to the
soldiers, some workers  arrived without permits from the village of
Bidiya. The commander with a nod of his head had motioned to the
soldiers to let them through. (Usually illegal workers are stopped by
the soldiers for up to 4 hours when they come back home from Israel.)
The people who gave me lift  the soldiers curse them. "Get back you son
of a prostitute. I am sick and tired of killing Arabs." The deputy mayor
has a shop in the village. When he brought in pitot during Peisach the
soldier asked him if he were not ashamed to bring in Chametz.  At the
home of the man the extended family were present as if they were in a
tent of mourning.

This
is the story his sister told. M. lives in a small village near Bidiya.
He is originally from Azzun Atma. She had come with her daughters to
visit her family.  Her husband cannot enter the village as he cannot
get a permit. (Was it her husband who had tried to get through in the
morning with the request to have his address changed?). The soldiers
said that in the morning there had been a man from Bidiya who had tried
to enter with a stub from a permit which they had been told had no
validity so he had not been allowed to pass. Someone had gone into his
car when leaving the village . The man who had not been allowed to
enter had turned round and chased after him. The soldiers say they had
not interfered.

At
13.30 M. had wanted to return with her 5 children to Bidiya. Her
brother, a resident of the village intended to take her home. When they
got to the gate, the soldiers asked for the IDs of the two adults which
they were given and then the driver was told to stand at the side.  He
was speaking on the phone. S called him and began to hit him and when
his sister got out of the car to help him  the soldier said to her
"Shut your mouth and get into the car,"  They took away A's phone and
then took him to the isolation area which is behind the checking booth. In
the isolation area there are no cameras.  They hit him and he shouted. When
the soldiers had finished with him he crawled out of the isolation area towards the car.  This while the children of his sister watched.  When
M. saw her brother crawling and crying  she ran to him. The soldiers
began to shout at her "Get into the car and shut your mouth." She was
dizzy and started to vomit and asked the soldiers for her ID saying she
no longer wanted to exit but just to get away from there. M. had been
in the line of those at the exit when A. waited for her brother. M. was
allowed out without problems and there were no cars behind him. 4-5
cars entering and in other words the claim by the soldiers of pressure
was not true.  He said that the commander S. was the one who had called
A,. and who had beaten him. M. the sister said that there were other
cars but no one had got out. Only when they saw A. crawling they went
to him and then the soldiers had thrown a shock grenade. In the
meantime someone had summoned an ambulance from Qalqiliya to come
quickly. The injured man was still in the area of the checkpoint.  The
deputy mayor asked S. the commander to allow the ambulance in but it
had taken half an hour until it was allowed in. In the meantime they
had taken A, to the village.

When I left the family still had no information about the condition of A. as he was still being x-rayed and checked.

 

The facts on which the two sides are agreed. 

 

1. An ambulance arrived and took half an hour before it was allowed into the village.

2. A
shock grenade was thrown by the soldiers when about 20 people were
present including women and children who were standing at the line
where cars halted. This is evidently the place to which A. crawled
after he came out of the isolation.

3. A man who had been beaten was taken from the village in the afternoon by ambulance.

The
continuation of the conversation with the soldiers then concerned the
versions of the incident two weeks ago when buses with school children
who were returning from a trip . There has been a previous report about
this.

I
also heard about two innovations to the checkpoint. A field telephone
which is wired to the tower where the soldiers sit at night. If a
village resident wants to leave the village after 22.00 he can phone
this tower.

The
other  innovation is that when the gate has to be opened at night a
patrol does not have to be called in. There is another unit which can
immediately come to the gate.  As far as the timing of these changes is
concerned it is a fitting reply to a letter which I handed to the aid
of the minister of the interior concerning the village.

I
have a photo of some of the soldiers and especially that of the
commander. His name, the name of the second lieutenant, the injured
man, his sister, the deputy mayor. The sister is prepared to be
questioned by Bestelem and also the media.