'Azzun 'Atma, Thu 19.6.08, Afternoon

Observers: 
Hagar L Natanya G., Natanya translating
Jun-19-2008
|
Afternoon

It
ended in blood. This report is sent first of all as a warning. There is
a a great danger that if this soldier is not removed from the checkpoint there
will soon be victims, bloody from his deeds, not only his beatings,
humiliations and abuse of the sort that is described here. We know who
he is and have his picture. We hope that those who read these reports
will discover who is responsible for the army unit at this checkpoint.

17.25 We got to Azzun Atme from Beit Amin ( that is inside the West Bank) and
before we even had time to park, the taxi drivers came up to us and said
that the soldiers were beating two men. We crossed the checkpoint in the
direction of the village. In the shed of the soldiers we saw a young
man and three soldiers speaking to him. He was not handcuffed and stood
on his feet, taller than the soldiers. We could not go near to him. At
the entrance to the village in the direction of the West Bank were
about 10 cars and it seems that the soldiers had sent the last car
which had gone through some time before we arrived. (Were they maybe
busy beating the young man?)

17.25
Opposite at the side of the road which comes down from the village sat
more than 120 men who were not inhabitants of the village and who had
no permits to enter. I counted 124 people sitting but others stood in
various places and the whole time more people were arrived and I think
that up to 150 were detained. We started phoning, Natanya to the
center and I to Micky Fisher and I then went to get my camerainfo-icon from the
car. When I started back in the direction of the gate I saw many people
coming through the gate in the direction of the West Bank and
understood that all in one swoop one of the soldiers had freed them
all. I began to photograph the people and the shouts of the taxi
drivers saying in which direction they were heading. I came to a group
which was standing near the gate and who were trying to find their IDs
in the bunch which the one soldier had thrown in the direction of the
group. While I was coming up and photographing people began to run
away from the gate and I heard a shot. I ran away together with them
qas it was not clear to me who had shot or at what. I saw smoke
spreading and soon realised that the soldiers had thrown a shock
grenade. I went back in the direction of the gate and photographed the
soldier who was pointing his weapon at the group and now also at me.
Natanya who was standing close to him says that he tried to pull her
back so as to stand behind him before he shot. She was a witness to the
shooting of the shock grenade into the huge crowd which stood next to
the cars with babies and children who were waiting to enter the
village. (There is also a video which I made and the remains of the
grenade which have been given to Betselem. If the video is clear enough
they will be put on the site of Machsomwatch and Betselem.

A
group of people who had not yet received their IDs were standing close
to the gate. The soldiers there said "One by one" but after some nerve
shattering moments gave them the whole pile. I went to see the young
man whom I had been told had been beaten. He had just been freed and
was walking accompanied by some people and refused to speak to me or
stop or to make a complaint and seemed very upset. I could only see
that the back of his neck was very red. After that some young men came
past one of whom had been hit by the grenade and I photographed this. I
immediately put him into contact with Betselem.

Only
now the soldiers began letting cars into the village. They had waited
at least half an hour to get in or out. In the cars were families with
children and babies all of whom had seen the shock grenade fired next
to the cars and maybe also the beating.

In order to calm down a bit we went to the checkpoint Jalud on the road to
Qalqiliya. There are still reservists there and while we were there the
soldiers just greeted the people but did not check the cars. We spoke
to them while we waited to be allowed to go into Ras-Atiya. We were
also told that the army had started opening the gate 1419. One of the
soldiers explained the checkpoint to us…..closureinfo-icon on Qalqiliya. It is
hard to explain to anyone who has not been to this checkpoint how
ridiculous it is . On the road which passed between Palestinian
villages most of which are along the road and are between the two
separation fences. One of them is near the green line round about
opposite Nirit and Oranit and the second that of Alfei Menashe. Until
lately this road was the worse in the area but a month ago the
Palestinian Authority tarred it. All the village in the area live
within a network of fences which now define what is near or far. Places
that were within 50-100 metres from the home now have to be reached
through the time of opening of various gatesinfo-icon, cars and tractors or on
foot. Where there is a fence of a gate one needs a permit which are
usually not given.

45
minutes later we came back to Azzun at about 19.00 and saw that the
soldiers were again detaining a large group of about 20 people. The
group stood around the soldier Ben and another soldier. Ben was having
a "sing-song" and the detaineesinfo-icon had to sing for him before they got
their IDs back after being checked by another soldier. The group stood
and sang loudly and only after that were they given their IDs . I did
not stand close but the previous time when I had been at the checkpoint
I had seen the same soldier "joking: with a man who had come to take
his ID, First of all he proclaimed in a loud and happy voice the name
of the man and when he came up had handed him his ID ceremoniously and
then when the man put out his hand to take it pulled it back. This game
was played a few times before the man got his ID. People come back from
a tiring day at work and sometimes after a week that they have not seen
their families and living in bad conditions, they have to wait in a
nerve wracking situation and then to amuse this crazy soldier as
without their IDs they cannot move anywhere in the area.

The
same soldier who a short time ago had shot a grenade into a large group
of people and who it seems probably also helped to beat a man now stood
and demanded that he been entertained. We saw no reaction at any time
during these events from the commander of the checkpoint or the
soldiers who had seen Ben's behaviour.

We
waited until all the detainees had passed and decided to leave. On our
way into the village a group of 5 young men came towards us and begged
us to stay but the hour was late and we left with heavy hearts. We saw
their IDs being taken for checking. Later when I got home a man who had
been detained phoned me and asked for my help as the soldiers had again
detained a group of about 50 men and this at 20.00.