Anyone Who Walked By, Kicked

The following are two complaints passed on by Haaretz to the IDF Spokesman's Office in the Central Command at the beginning of the week, to get reactions with regard to the behavior of soldiers at the Qalandiyah checkpoint south of Ramallah and at the mobile checkpoint in the Nablus area.

The following are two complaints passed on by Haaretz to the IDF Spokesman's Office in the Central Command at the beginning of the week, to get reactions with regard to the behavior of soldiers at the Qalandiyah checkpoint south of Ramallah and at the mobile checkpoint in the Nablus area.

Three hours of kneeling

A., who is 34(the full details of the complainant have been given to the IDF Spokesman), is a plasterer by profession and lives in Ramallah. His family is from a village northwest of the city. Last week he was offered work in the A Ram neighborhood, south of the Qalandiyah checkpoint. According to A., for the last two years he was nowhere near the checkpoint and was unaware of the rules and regulations governing it.

On Saturday, July 19, he went to the checkpoint. He gave the soldier his identity card. Folded into the card was his membership card in the Fatah movement, which includes his clan name - Barghouti - which does not appear in his ID card. He says that when the soldier noticed that name in the card, the soldier asked if A. was related to Marwan Barghouti. A. explained he was not directly related and that they come from different villages. The soldier answered something like "so what, Marwan Barghouti lives in Ramallah now," and ordered A. to stand aside. Afterward, the soldier blindfolded him with a piece of cloth and led him to a hill overlooking the checkpoint. There, he was handcuffed behind his back and told to kneel on the ground with his eyes blindfolded and his hands handcuffed behind his back.

According to A. he was held in that position, under the sky, until the next day, July 20, until four in the afternoon - more than 30 hours. He reckons he was held next to a building that serves as an outhouse. The entire time the soldiers ignored his requests to use the toilet and told him to "do it in your pants." They also ignored his request to loosen or remove the handcuffs. On the Shabbath, they allowed him to drink water once, around two in the afternoon. One soldier held a plastic cup and watered him that way.

Every once in a while, he said, people who walked past would kick him. But when night fell, and there were no more people going through the checkpoint, some of the soldiers got together and in an organized manner beat him. He felt them using fists and a stick on his neck and back. In addition, he felt them putting out burning cigarettes on his head (A. is bald). He said he shouted to please take off the handcuffs, which cut off the blood to his hands.

That night he received a sandwich to eat and for the coming hours another cup of water. The next day, judging by the voices, he could tell the soldiers had been replaced. The new soldiers did not beat him. One asked where he was from and where were his ID papers. He answered, "You have the papers." No other soldier related to him during all that Sunday, July 20.

A. knew how to tell the time according to the muezzin from the nearby mosque. Around 4:30 in the afternoon, one of the soldiers used a radio to make contact with someone, said "there's nothing on him," and then removed the blindfold and handcuffs, ordering him to go home. His ID card was returned to him, but not the Fatah ID card.

He gave this testimony to Haaretz about two-and-a-half hours after he was released, at the Ramallah hospital where he was examined. He had difficulty moving his hands after being

handcuffed for so many hours. The palms of his hands were very swollen and he had difficulty grasping objects. His upper back was covered with fresh bruises. Round burns marked his head.

First dance, then hop

Four soldiers got out of a jeep or an APC in the hilly area northwest of Nablus and for 10 hours held seven passengers of a taxi and the driver, humiliating them.

On Sunday July 20, around 7:30 A.M., G., one of the passengers (all the details - without names - have been given to the spokesman) left Nablus on his way to the village where his family lives north of Nablus. It is a 20-kilometer trip, involving lengthy walks by foot and taxi tides over hilly dirt roads that bypass checkpoints that Palestinians are usually not allowed to pass through.

G. got into a taxi with seven other people. Soon after, around 11 in the morning, in the area between the villages of Dir Sharf and Nakura, the taxi encountered a jeep and an APC. Soldiers got out of one of the vehicles. The taxi was confiscated, and the driver was told to pick it up at he army camp at Shavei Shomron. Four soldiers remained to guard the eight people, and the jeep and APC continued on their way.

The soldiers collected the ID cards and one of the soldiers put them in his pocket. According to one of the Palestinians, during the entire time they were held, there was no examination of the ID cards and their owners, through the radio.

According to one of the passengers, during the hours, about once every half hour, the soldiers made the eight people do all sorts of tasks. Dance, hop on one foot, repeat various slogans in Hebrew, stand up, sit down, stand up and sit down, over and over. Around 4:30 in the afternoon, they were allowed to walk back to Nablus.

The IDF says:

"The claims are being fully examined in a context that included questioning of the soldiers and officers who serve in the place by the commander of the zone. For that purpose, the complainant has been invited in to provide evidence and describe the details of the event and the examination will continue.

These are very serious complaints about behavior that has no place in the IDF. The IDF regards with severity any behavior that involves humiliation and violence toward the Palestinian population. The subject will continue to be examined in the most in-depth manner and to the extent that the complaints turn out to be true, the matter will be handled with full severity."