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Affidavit No. 2594/2005

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, Riyad 'Abd-al-Latif 'Abd-al-Karim 'Awad, Tel.: 0599292538, holder of ID # 941273294, born on 24 July 1958, Dean of the Engineering Faculty at al-Najah University and a resident of the South Quarter, Toulkarem Governorate, would like to declare the following:

At approximately 10:20 pm on Saturday, 6 October 2005, I was with my family (my wife, five daughters and a little boy) at my home located in the South Quarter of Toulkarem near al-Zakat hospital. Everything was normal at home. While we were getting ready to go to bed, I heard knocking at the door. I asked through the intercom who was knocking and a voice answered, "We are your friends." I asked who these friends were and the voice replied, "Get down and you will know." At that moment I became suspicious of these people.

I looked from the balcony of our home, which is located on the second floor of our family building. I saw three masked and armed people and a fourth person sitting in a white car, Subaru model 83, which was parked in front of our building. I repeated my question, “Who are you?” Then one of the three men fired in the air saying, “Get down or I will shoot at you.” Then another armed man fired two bullets at the downstairs door to open it but he did not succeed as it was tightly closed with a security lock from the inside.

At that moment I left the eastern balcony and went to the western balcony which overlooks our neighbors. My wife, children and I started shouting for help. The neighbors came but the armed men fired at anyone who tried to approach the place. No one was injured, though. I called the Zakat hospital and asked for an ambulance. An ambulance came but the armed men also fired at the ambulance, preventing it from coming closer. Suddenly, I sensed somebody jump into the kitchen through the balcony. My 18-year-old daughter, Abrar, screamed when she saw an armed man come toward the living room, which we were in. I went to the kitchen and my wife, daughters and I started fighting with the armed man. The armed man tried to pull me to the stairs but he was unsuccessful as I was able to resist him. He then went down the stairs and opened the door, allowing another armed man to enter.

The two men pulled me down despite my resistance and one of them hit me in the eye and the other hit my leg with his gun, in addition to several blows in different parts of my body. I would like to note that the armed men were carrying Kalashnikovs. They put me in the back seat of the car, I was put in the middle while two armed men sat both to the right and left of me. Immediately, the armed men put a black mask with no openings over my head. The car started to move and I believe that it moved toward the south east of Toulkarem. They drove for approximately seven minutes, during which the four armed men used bad words against me which I find difficult to repeat. These words hurt me and the only thing I said was, “Who are you?”

In the area south east of Toulkarem there are orchards, olive groves, and wild areas, as well as the Palestinian Intelligence Forces headquarters. I am familiar with every area

of Toulkarem. They then took me out of the car and after two or three minutes I heard people shouting and yelling, “You traitors, you spies, we know who you are!”. The armed men fired toward those people and the people responded by shooting back. Less than five minutes later, I was moved to another car, still blindfolded.

After the car drove five minutes, I was again taken out of the car and proceeded to walk with several persons for approximately four minutes in an area planted with trees. I was walking on rocks and thorns with bare feet. After a short period, one of the armed men asked me to sit on the ground and lower my head. Then he made one guard watch me while the others left. That guard was holding the mouth of his gun close to my back. During my detention, which lasted around three hours, I asked twice to urinate and was allowed while under guard. By then, I believe it had become 11:00 pm. During the time I was held in this area, I heard mosque loudspeakers call for my release, in addition to calls for people to go on marches and call for my release and to protest against my detention. When this happened, I heard crowds of people demanding my release. I realized that I was in a place very close to Toulkarem. I also realized that my kidnappers were Palestinian.

This situation continued until 2:00 am on Friday, 7 October 2005, when several people arrived and two men, including the one who was guarding me, helped me walk for approximately seven minutes without talking to me. We stopped and one of the men said, “We know that you are a respected man and we only want to apologise to you for what happened and hope that the men have not hurt you.” I said, “There is no harm more than the harm that my family and I have sustained." I told them that the armed men assaulted my wife and daughters by beating them and asked them under which law this could take place. One of the men said, “You know the circumstances, and this operation is a message to Hamas." I said, "But this message was sent to the wrong address," meaning that I am not one of Hamas' symbols; therefore, a message to Hamas should not be sent through a person like me. The same man said, “Anyhow, we believe that you want to maintain our safety, so don’t take off the mask for the next five minutes."

After they left, I took the mask off and found myself in an area planted with trees in the Naser orchard, south east of Toulkarem. I walked until I reached the main street and returned home with the help of my friends and relatives. I arrived at my home at 2:20 am. On my way home, I felt that all of Toulkarem was awake: there were people and cars on the streets, and all houses were lit. At home, I found hundreds of people waiting for my return.

I call all the honest people and all the Palestinian people to national unity and cohesion, and to avoid such operations which will have negative impacts on the society. I do not accuse anybody of kidnapping me but at the same time I say that the kidnappers wanted to send a message to Hamas through me. I don't think that anyone could commit this act unless they were well-prepared and organized. What happened to me has also happened to other people in Hebron, Bethlehem, Nablus, and Jenin.

This is my statement and hereby I sign, 14 October 2005
Signature: Riyad 'Awad

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 2594/2005
  • Field researcher: Tareq al-Haj Mahmoud
  • Affidavit Date: 14 October 2005
  • Name: Riyad 'Awad
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