Affidavit No. 2998/2006

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action I, the undersigned, Muhammad Suleiman Muhammad Abu-Zrei’, holder of ID # 914000476, of Palestinian nationality, born on 14 April 1980, unemployed and a resident of Beit 'Awwa village, Hebron Governorate, would like to declare the following:

I live with my family in Beit 'Awwa. My family consists of 14 persons seven of which are physically disabled: six males, of which I am one, and one female. We cannot walk on our feet due to an untreatable disease that causes muscular slenderness and affects our nerves. I have had this disease since I was 13 years old whilst my other brothers and sister have had it since they were younger. My brother Ashraf, born in 1983, has never walked and became physically disabled at an early age. We have two wheelchairs which we use to improve our mobility. One of these wheelchairs is electric, which we received from the Arab Rehabilitation Society in Beit Jala. This wheelchair enables us to move long distances and can climb hills without anyone pushing it.

On 7 May 2006, following afternoon prayer, my brother wanted to go out on the electric wheelchair. He told me that he would go to a mountainous area adjacent to, but still a part of, Beit 'Awwa. Near that area, there is a bypass road used by Israeli soldiers and settlers. My brother did not return home and we had not heard anything about him. Although he has a mobile, he did not call us. I was worried about my brother and so I asked for help from one of our relatives Sharhabil Badwi Khalil (34 years) who was my brother in law. Sharhabil and I went to the place where Asharf told me that he was going and where he and I used to go to enjoy nature and the almond trees. To our surprise, we did not find him and we did not find anything out about him.

We returned home and waited for news but received nothing. That night, my mother wept while we waited feafully until dawn. Then my father (who is 60 years old) was very worried and said that the wheelchair might have fallen over or might have broken and become unable to move. So my father went out at sunrise to search for Ashraf. After approximately an hour, my father came back carrying the clothes which Ashraf had been wearing. My father told us that he had found the wrecked wheelchair beside the bypass road with the clothes. He also added that when he asked the residents of that area about Ashraf, they said that they had seen Israeli soldiers there and they had seen flash lights during the night.

On 8 May 2006 at 1:00 pm, we received a telephone call from Ashraf telling us that he was in Hebron Governmental Hospital. I talked to him and he asked me to bring for him a set of clothing. I asked him what had happened and he told me that the Israeli soldiers removed him from the wheelchair and blew it up and removed his clothes, but that he did not know why they had done so. He also confirmed to me that they hit him. He told me all of this during the course of the phone call.

I told my father and the rest of the family what Ashraf had told me. Immediately, my father, my brother Nizar (who is not disabled) and my mother went to the hospital and brought Ashraf back with them. Ashraf told us the whole story saying that while he was in his wheelchair, Israeli patrols passed him and told him to get off the wheelchair. He told them that he could not do so because he was disabled but they did not believe him and ordered him to use the wheelchair to get to the bypass. As the soldiers insisted that he get off the wheelchair, he threw himself on the ground. Then they blew up the wheelchair from a distance while Ashraf was shouting and saying that there was nothing in it. The soldiers were at a distance from Ashraf and they told him to take off all his clothes. He took his clothes off, but only after the machine that was with the soldiers tried to do so by force. Then the soldiers came close to him, started to beat him with their hands and the butts of their guns, and arrested him. He told me that he lost consciousness while he was in the military jeep and he only regained consciousness in the hospital.

On 8 May, my father took his donkey and brought the wheelchair back, which the Israeli soldiers had destroyed. Seeing it, I felt very sad because we only received it after years of waiting and it was our only means of mobility and getting out of our home. Nothing new occurred from that day until 3:00 am on 16 May 2006 when we heard loud knocking at our door and I heard the voices of Israeli soldiers. My father opened the door and the soldiers told him to get everybody out of the house. My father started to get us out one by one in our wheelchairs (we had two manual wheelchairs one for me and one for Ashraf) while my other brothers and sister do not have wheelchairs and so they crawled on the ground to get out.

Then two dogs entered our home while the soldiers were standing at the door. After 10 minutes, the dogs left our home. I forgot to tell you that the dogs searched us one by one when we got out of our home. After the dogs left the house the soldiers, accompanied by the dogs, entered our house. They stayed inside our house for about an hour while other soldiers guarded over us. Then they searched the house of my brother Nizar (who is 33 years old) who lives in al-'Eizariyya and is not disabled. After the soldiers finished their search, we were very cold, but the soldiers did not allow my mother to bring more clothes for us.

At 5:00 am the soldiers allowed all of us to re-enter our home apart from my brother Ashraf who they arrested and took with them. They left our house without finding any forbidden things in it or with us. My brother Ashraf is now in detention and I do not know what the charge against him is. We hired a lawyer (Mazen) for him through the Disabled Union but this lawyer has not been able to visit him until now.

This is my declaration and hereby I sign, 18 May 2006
Signature: Muhammad Suleiman

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 2998/2006
  • Field researcher: Zahi Jaradat
  • Affidavit Date: 18 May 2006
  • Name: Muhammad Suleiman