***image2***Ahmad Muwafaq Saleh Qabaha

Ahmad, 17, of West Toura, to the west of Jenin, is disabled. He has motor problems affecting half of his body and severe learning difficulties. He relies on his parents for most of his personal needs.

In May 2004 at around midnight, Ahmad and his family were woken by a heavy banging at the door and loud voices shouting,

“Open the door – it’s soldiers”

Ahmad's father, Muwafiq Qabaha went to the door. There were five soldiers attacking the house and around fifteen taking up position outside. The officer claimed he had a military order to arrest one of his sons, and asked Muwafiq to bring them out.

Muwafiq has three children of whom Ahmad, fifteen at the time, was the oldest. As Ahmad is seriously disabled, his father did not imagine that the soldiers could be looking for him, so he brought his two younger sons, Mu’atas and Faiz, and presented them to the occupation forces. But this was Muwafiq's mistake. The officer examined their birth certificates – they do not have identification cards – and looked again at his military order: it was clear that they wanted Ahmad.

Muwafiq started to explain the situation to the officer, that his oldest son was disabled. But that meant nothing to the occupation. The officer said:

“I want this guy”

He demanded that Ahmad be brought to him. Then, without asking any questions, the soldiers started to insult Ahmad and beat him.

The soldiers then told Muwafiq that they were arresting his son, claiming that he had thrown stones at the Wall that surrounds the village. They produced a photograph of a number of children. It was unclear and difficult to distinguish individual faces.

Muwafiq could not positively identify his son, but told the soldiers that Ahmad could have been in the area by chance. Muwafiq is employed maintaining the village generator, which is 50 meters from the wall, and he is usually accompanied by Ahmad. He could have been in the area when the photograph was taken.

Ahmad is visibly disabled with severe motor and mental impairment. He has no legal responsibility, and is obviously incapable of throwing stones over any distance. But the officer nonetheless insisted that he would to arrest him, despite his father's protestations.

The occupation forces pushed Ahmad to the ground, and manhandled him into the jeep without his shoes and in his pajamas, hitting him with their boots and the butts of their guns.

Nothing in the world excuses the arrest of such a child. Muwafiq could not understand how the occupation could be so brutal. He thought that the soldiers would take his son to the gate in the Wall and detain him for a while in order to ask some questions before releasing him. He followed the jeep through the gate. The patrol stationed there told him that his son was being taken to Salem, and that he was to wait until the next day to see the officers and his son.

The following day, Muwafiq went to Salem with a lawyer from ’48 land and after a long dispute the occupation forces promised to release him the following day. But they did not. The next day, they extended his arrest to 26 days, during which time he was presented to the court twice.

They brought Ahmad chained at the feet and hands, with a soldier on either side of him, to sit in the seat of the accused. The court proceedings were a farce: the judge questioned a child who did not understand a word that he said, and Ahmad talked about unrelated things. When the judge questioned him he did not speak. Everyone in the court was laughing. Muwafiq sometimes tried to answer for his son, but he was not allowed. Ahmad was accused of throwing stones and burning tires by the Wall. This was a ridiculous accusation: if Ahmad got hold of fire he would burn himself. After his second court appearance, the occupation agreed to release him with a 2000 shekel fine, and the threat of jail if he did anything against the Wall during the coming year.

***image3***Mu’atas Samer Saleh Qabaha

Mu'atas Samer is now six years old, and lives in Toura.

On the 4th of June 2006 at around 4pm he was playing with his sister in the yard near their house, 15 meters away from the wall. His father was doing some work around the house and his mother was visiting family.

Suddenly, a jeep drove up at great speed to where the children were playing. Occupation forces got out and arrested Mu’atas Samer, who was at that time 4 years old. Their father heard the sound and thought that his children were afraid and ran to the scene. When he arrived he was shocked that the occupation forces wanted to arrest Mu'atas Samer, claiming that he was throwing stones.

The children's father thought that the idea was crazy, but the soldiers insisted. Mr Qabaha refused to give them his son, saying that his son was very small, and that maybe they were playing and throwing stones, but that he Mu'atas Samer did not have the force to throw anything seriously. He told the occupation forces “I will never give you my son”. The soldier called the officer, and then he said that they had to arrest the kid. The father was hugging and holding his son while the soldiers pulled him away. Mu'atas Samer was terrified.

When Mr. Qabaha saw how frightened his son was, he told the occupation forces that he would come with his son. Finally they agreed. They put chains on both and took him to the jeep and then to the military zone in the area, which belongs to Shakit settlement.

They detained father and son until 9pm at night, only releasing them when the father signed a paper stating that if his son did it again there would be a 2000 shekel fine, and that Mr. Qabaha would be arrested.

Mu'atas Samer is now being treated by a doctor for psychological problems.


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