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Affidavit No. 7278/2012

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, Ahmad Mustafa Nu’man Sub Laban, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 036079564, born on 9 October 1979, researcher on settlement affairs in Jerusalem, and a resident of the Kufr Aqab village, Jerusalem governorate, would like to declare the following:

This morning, 4 March 2012, my wife, my son Mustafa (five and a half years) and I went to Qalandiya checkpoint, which is set up by the Israeli occupying forces on the road connecting the cities of Ramallah and Jerusalem occupied in 1967. This is what I do every day in order to reach my workplace in Jerusalem. My wife and child went with me to visit her family. At around 9:40 am, I was at the checkpoint. I had a garbage bag, which I wanted to throw in a waste container in Jerusalem; i.e. “outside” the Annexation Wall. Waste containers in the areas “inside the Wall” are few in number and full of trash. There is no room to throw trash in these containers so it is thrown beside them. As usual, when I reached the checkpoint, an Israeli female soldier stopped me and searched the car. When she looked inside the car, she asked what the bag contained (referring to the garbage bag).

“Garbage,” I spontaneously answered in Hebrew, which I speak fluently.

“You cannot cross.” She told me.

I inquired about the reason. She said I could not cross the checkpoint with a garbage bag. I explained to her why I had brought the bag with me; that is, to keep clean the neighbourhood where I lived.

“That does not matter. You just cannot cross.” She replied.

The female soldier told me to return and not cross the checkpoint, but I insisted I would not go back. Then, I went to an officer with a higher rank, but he said I could not cross with the garbage bag “because we cannot examine it.”

“Am I garbage so that I examine garbage?” He said angrily and demanded that I go back.

I had two choices, then. First, I could turn the car back, drive through Qalandiya and Kufr Aqab, throw the garbage bag, and come back to the Qalandiya checkpoint in order to access Jerusalem. Second, I would insist on my position and not obey the Israeli occupying soldiers’ orders to return and throw the garbage in the area “inside the Wall”. I chose the second option. The nearest waste container was situated at the Qalandiya checkpoint itself. However, the soldiers insisted that I could not throw the bag in it. Hence, I felt that they wanted to stick to their opinion and humiliate me.

“I will not go back in the car. I can throw this bag in the waste container, which you see here. It is only 15 metres away.” I told them.

However, they maintained their opinion. After a long debate and when they saw that I would not give up and insisted to not go back and, they called an Israeli police officer on the wireless telecommunications device. After he inquired about the matter, I was so surprised that the police officer requested my ID card.

“Go back. You cannot cross with the garbage bag.” He said.

“I will not go back. If you want, you can arrest me on the charge of attempting to throw garbage in a waste container in Jerusalem, but I will not go back.”

“You will not pass this checkpoint.” The police officer said plainly. He also seized my ID card and demanded that I step aside. I waited for the problem to be solved for 10 minutes, but not a soldier or police officer appeared. Therefore, I decided to carry the bag and throw it in the waste container near to the checkpoint. Immediately, an Israeli guard approached and prevented me from doing so. He demanded that I get back to the car by force. I decided to call the Israeli police on my mobile telephone. I explained the situation, stating I had been forced to return from the checkpoint by force because of a garbage bag. However, the female police officer, who talked to me, said the police could not intervene at that checkpoint and that they were not responsible for the soldiers there. I tried to convince her that I was being put through an abnormal situation, stating that some soldiers were trying to persecute me.

“We cannot help you.” The female police officer said and ended the telephone conversation.

This time, I decided to act on my own again. I carried the bag and tried to cross the checkpoint on foot towards Jerusalem, but the soldiers prevented me. Desperate as I was, I said I would walk to Qalandiya, but I was denied access as well. They wanted that I get back in the car.

“From here, I will not move my car. If you want me to return the bag to Qalandiya, I will do it.” I said.

The police officer said I could request a Palestinian car crossing to Qalandiya to take the bag from me, but I explained I could not do so. I made clear that I could walk to Qalandiya and throw the bag there. The police officer accepted, but the soldiers initially objected. However, they consented later on. Still, the Israeli soldiers prevented me from crossing to Qalandiya from the vehicle lane and forced me to go to the pedestrian lane, cross the Qalandiya checkpoint, and then get from there. This was what I did. It took me 20 minutes to cross to Qalandiya, and throw the bag in a dust bin in the waiting hall designated to pedestrians on the checkpoint. Then, I came back, waited for searches at the pedestrian lane, and got back to my car, where I had left my family (my wife and my 5-year-old son) at the checkpoint. My wife told me that our son Mustafa was frightened while they waited at the checkpoint.

“Why does the army want to shoot my father?” He asked more than once.

When he asked to use the toilet, my wife had to let my son urinate in a glass, because she was afraid to request that the soldiers allow him to do so.

It took me around an hour and 10 minutes to cross to Jerusalem. This incident is very painful. As a Jerusalemite, you decide to keep your environment clean and to not throw garbage around your house or beside waste containers, which are full of garbage bags. However, the Israeli occupying forces prevent you from doing so. This is the situation in the neighbourhoods of Kufr Aqab and Samir Amis. The municipality of the occupying authorities is reluctant to perform its duty of cleaning Jerusalemite neighbourhoods “inside the Wall”, which have turned into a large dump site. I have seen a lot of garbage flowing through the flooded streets in this stormy and rainy weather. The Israeli occupying authorities neglect their duty of repairing the streets. We further suffer from the smell of burnt garbage, which some people do to dispose of it at the expense of public health.

According to the Israeli police officer, I could not throw the garbage bag in Jerusalem for security reasons and because it was difficult to search it. He preferred that I would not cross the checkpoint with it. However, that police officer forgot that he allowed me to cross with this “suspected” bag in the pedestrian lane at the Qalandiya checkpoint and walk past soldiers and citizens, thereby negating the security factor. This proves that the police officer and soldiers actually wanted to oppress and humiliate me by insisting that I go back to Qalandiya and throw the bag there. They have denied me the simplest human right – the right to life in a clean environment that is void of contamination.

 

This is my declaration, which I hereby sign, 4 March 2012

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: Affidavit No. 7278/2012
  • Field researcher: Omarn Resheq
  • Affidavit Date: 4 March 2012
  • Name: Ahmad Mustafa Nu’man Sub Laban