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Affidavit No. 3431/2007

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, Sameh Mahdi Ahmad 'Amira, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 920098167, born on 16 November 1982, a worker and a resident of al-Sikka street, Nablus city, Nablus Governorate, would like to declare the following:

At approximately 5:00 am on Sunday, 25 February 2007, I was at home sleeping along with all my family, my mother Hanan (40-years-old), my brother Muhammad (22-years-old), my sister Mayyada (26-years-old) and her children Habib (two-years-old) and Saleh (4-years-old). Suddenly, we were all awoken by the noise from sound grenades, which had been launched in the Haifa Quarter where we live. We also heard my uncle’s wife, Na'ima, shouting, “What do you want?” I listened carefully and realised that Israeli forces were present in the house adjacent to ours to the south.

After a few moments, the noise stopped. My family and I gathered in the guest room fearing that the soldiers would move into our house. After approximately half an hour, there was a knock on the door. I opened the door and saw my cousin 'Amid standing there with several Israeli soldiers behind him. Some of the soldiers had blackened their faces. They were wearing military uniforms and helmets, and were carrying weapons. 'Amid told me that the army wanted us to leave our home immediately. I went back inside and told my family this.

My whole family left the house in less than five minutes. I was the last to leave. The soldiers were standing on the external steps of our house. As I was descending the steps, a soldier with a blackened face asked me in Hebrew to show him my ID. I understood what he wanted and told him that it was inside our house. He ordered me to go into the house and retrieve it quickly. As I was searching for it, I remembered that I had given it to my father, who lives in a separate house, so as to obtain a permit for me.

I went back outside and told the soldier this. He told me to go and inform the officer standing at the bottom of the stairs and pointed to the officer in question. I walked a few metres towards this officer. He was tall, wore a helmet and military uniform, was carrying a weapon and had two or three badges on his shoulder. I would say that he was no more than 30-years-old. He spoke to me in Hebrew, which I understand, about my ID. I told him what I had told the first soldier. After a few minutes, he pushed me in the back and ordered me to go into a neighbouring house, which belongs to the al-Quseini family and is around 50 metres north of our home. The soldiers forced me into a room where my family, my uncle's family and the al-Quseini's family were all gathered. We were all inside a room of no more than 25 metres squared. There were four soldiers at the door of the room. They were accompanied by a huge dog. The four soldiers had blackened faces. They were wearing military uniforms and helmets, and they all appeared to be under 30 years of age. One of them was aiming his weapon at us.

After 10 minutes in the room, the officer who had spoken to me earlier came in and gestured to my cousin Manal (17-years-old) to leave the room. Manal was frightened and confused and asked the soldier to let her mother Na'ima go with her. He allowed this. The soldiers were standing about 4 metres from the entrance of the room where we were sitting. As such, I could hear the officer asking Manal in Arabic about her brother Omar and her fiancée 'Ala' Akkouba. Manal responded by saying that she did not know where they were. After a few minutes, the officer gave her his mobile phone and asked her to speak to another intelligence officer. I heard Manal repeatedly saying that she did not know where the two were. The exchanges over the phone continued for around a quarter of an hour. Then, I heard the officer telling her that if she did not tell him where they were, he would take her to prison. He then made the dog circle her while he cursed at her and uttered obscenities to the effect that he would strip her naked and let the dog attack her. After that, the officer let her go back to the room with her mother.

The officer left and returned after five minutes. He told my uncle’s wife that some Israeli soldiers had killed her daughter’s fiancé 'Ala' and her son 'Umar while they were hiding in a well. My uncle’s wife told him that they were lying and that she didn’t know where the two were. Again, the officer left and after ten minutes returned with the dog. Once again, he questioned my cousin Manal and began teasing her, telling her that they would take her to Rotana Cinema. Manal began trembling, her face went pale and she fainted. The officer told us to leave her alone and brought a bottle of water. With his permission, I gave her some water and she gradually regained consciousness. I asked the officer if he was a doctor. He said he wasn’t but that there was a doctor with them. Then, a soldier appeared whom the officer identified as the doctor. This soldier was wearing a uniform and helmet and was carrying a weapon. He was distinguished from the others by a band around his head with a light on it. He took Manal's pulse and then left.

Several minutes later, the officer came in again and asked my cousin 'Amid (16-years-old) to leave the room with him. I heard the officer asking 'Amid how many rooms were in his house and in our house. Then, he told him to go into both houses and open all the windows in five minutes. When 'Amid returned to the room, he did not tell us what had happened. Then, the same officer asked my brother Muhammad to leave the room and to go into our house and our uncle's house and switch on the lights in all the rooms. Muhammad did this and came back. Then, the soldiers asked 'Amid, Muhammad and I to sit in the middle of the room where we would be directly under their gaze. We did this.

Shortly afterwards, the same officer came back and inquired as to which of us spoke Hebrew. I told him I could. He told me to leave the room. Once outside of the room, I saw six soldiers, in addition to the four soldiers who had been standing in front of the room. They were all wearing military uniforms, had blackened faces and were carrying weapons. The officer told me to walk in front of the soldiers and we walked out into the street. They asked me to go into my uncle "izz-al-Din’s house. So I walked into his house with the soldiers following me. I entered the various rooms with the officer. I was standing directly to his right. He started firing at the furniture, the walls and the floor. In addition to this, he fired at the ceiling in one of the rooms, causing chunks of plaster to fall to the ground. While he was doing this, the officer asked me to stand outside the room. I was shocked and astonished.

A few minutes afterwards, we moved on to our house. The officer asked me about each room separately and on each occasion he started firing in the room. He shot the clothes, cupboards and couches. He spared nothing except the arch into which we had put the mattresses, the pillows and the blankets. When he wanted to fire at these things, I asked him why. I told him that these were the only things left for us to sleep on and to cover ourselves with. I told him that I would take all of these things down onto the floor. He allowed me to do that. Then, he asked me about my cousin and the fiancé of my cousin.
I told him that I had seen Omar in Nablus two days ago but that I hadn’t seen him since and that I didn’t know where he was. I told the officer that I had been released from detention only two days ago. He tapped me on my shoulder and then brought me back to the room where my family was being held. I was still shocked by what he had done inside our house and my uncle's house.

After ten minutes, the same officer reappeared holding Basem’s father’s ID. Basem was detained with us in the room. The officer told me to ask Basem why he didn’t hold an ID as he was 16-years-old. He told me to tell Basem and his brother to leave the room. I was also told to leave the room. Once outside the room, the officer handcuffed our hands behind our backs with plastic handcuffs and forced us outside of the house where we had been detained with our families. The soldiers ordered us to get into a jeep that was parked nearby. There were five of us in the jeep- the three of us, the driver and a soldier. The jeep drove away. After a short while, the jeep stopped and we disembarked on the main street in the al-Jneid area, one of the Nablus city neighborhoods. I know the place very well. The soldier blindfolded us and then ordered us to get back into the jeep. The jeep traveled for a few minutes after which time we disembarked in a place where we were left for around two hours. Then, another two people were brought along by the Israeli soldiers and were ordered to sit beside us. While talking to them, I recognised them. One was called Sa'ed and the other Mahmoud. Half an hour after their arrival, we were told to enter a room. Once inside this room, we asked the soldiers to bring us food but they ignored our request. We were only allowed go to the toilet outside. They would untie our hands for this purpose and when we would come back into the room, they would handcuff us again.

After spending an hour in this room, we were put back into the military jeep and were driven around for approximately an hour. Then, the jeep stopped. We got out and the soldiers removed our blindfolds. I saw that we were in the Huwwara military camp. I knew this place because I had been detained in it before. After spending several hours inside the barracks, we were taken one-by-one to an officer’s room and were interrogated. When my turn came to enter the officer's room, I saw an officer (I did not know his name) roughly 30-years-old. He was dressed in civilian clothes. The officer asked me lots of questions, including why I had been arrested before. After 10 minutes, I was returned to the room I had been put in initially. Several hours later, I was taken by bus along with a few other people to another place a few minutes away from where we were; we were all handcuffed and blindfolded. As we were getting off the bus, the soldiers called each one of us by name, removed our blindfolds, untied our hands and give us papers indicating that we had been arrested. After I received my paper, my hands had been freed and my blindfold removed, I saw that the soldiers had brought us to the Huwwara checkpoint. I saw all those who had been arrested with me, namely my brother Muhammad and Mahmoud. We walked until we found a taxi, which drove us home.

 

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 3431/2007
  • Field researcher: Yousef Qawareiq
  • Affidavit Date: 12 March 2007
  • Name: Sameh Mahdi Ahmad 'Amira