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Affidavit No. 4331/2008

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 Tawfiq Ahmed ‘Azza, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 937795565, born on 22 July 1970, a fire truck driver at the Nablus Municipality and a resident of the Nablus city, Nablus Governorate, would like to declare the following:

At about 12:30 am on 9 July 2008, I was on duty at the Fire Department of the Nablus Municipality. I work as a driver and officer in the Fire Department. At that time, staff at the emergency section, where I was present, received many telephone calls from citizens stating that a number of Israeli occupying soldiers were dispatched in the area surrounding the building housing the Nablus Municipality.

Immediately, I and my colleagues Marwan, 45 years, and ‘Amer, 28 years, drove a fire truck to the Municipality to see what was going on. We stopped a few metres north of the Municipality in front of the Police station. Many Israeli military patrols were dispatched along the main street as well as around the Municipality building and impeded access to the Municipality. I spoke loudly in Arabic, asking soldiers to allow me to access the Municipality. They only waved their hands, indicating that I should leave. Therefore, I drove for a
distance of about 100 metres to the north-western area and stopped in front of the al-Watani Hospital, which overlooks the Municipality building. We stepped down from the fire truck. Under light of street lampposts, I could see over 20 soldiers in regular military uniforms, with long weapons and helmets on their heads.

They stepped down from their patrols, which were parked in front of and around the Municipality building, and took positions along the main street. A soldier fired dozens of bullets in the air. Along with other soldiers, he entered the Municipality guards' room at the northern entrance. I and my colleagues phoned Hafeth Shahin, Deputy Chairman of Nablus Municipality, and told him about the incident. We went onboard the fire truck again and drove through a side road behind the al-Watani Hospital towards the Police station, directly opposite the Municipality building. As patrols were still there, I asked soldiers onboard a patrol in Arabic to allow us to reach the Municipality. Replying in Arabic, a soldier rejected forcefully and demanded that we leave. Then, we returned to our former place in front of the al-Watani Hospital. An Israeli patrol was parked there. As we drove closer, a soldier shouted in Arabic,

"Where are you going?" "To the hospital." I said. He ordered me to return, but I refused. After I stopped, he told me to move ahead but then screamed at me, asking where I was going. When I said I was going to the hospital, he let us pass. We entered to the hospital yard. Five minutes later, the patrol withdrew. Immediately afterwards, I received a call from the Fire Department, telling me to come back. Dr. Hafeth was there. In less than five minutes, I and my colleagues were at the Department. Dr. Hafeth Shahin and Sa'id Hendiyya, a member on the Municipal Council, were present. We discussed the best way to reach the Municipality building in order to find out what was going on. We agreed that I would call to the Municipality. So I called them. A soldier answered in Arabic: "Who is speaking?" "Nablus Fire Department," I replied.

When he asked about my name, I said it was al-Bouri, which is my nickname. "I want to do you a favour," I continued. "I have the keys to the Municipality building. Do you want me to bring them up to save you from having to destroy the doors?" "Wait a little," he repeated several times. Then, he ordered me to come to the Municipality. I took the keys from Dr. Hafeth. Sa'id, a Municipal Council member. Jamal Baghdadi, Director of the Fire Department, came along with me. When I arrived at the Municipality entrance, I released the horn of the fire truck. Meanwhile, I saw a number of officers outside and at the entrance of the Municipality. I could see insignias on their shoulders. An officer came along and told me in Arabic to step down and go to the Municipality alone. I held the keys and the officer accompanied me to the Municipality entrance. Meanwhile, a soldier searched me. The officer told me to go to another soldier, who was only two metres away. When I approached him, I immediately realised that he was Ra’ed Mansour, the Israeli officer. I knew him well. During raids into the city, we used to coordinate with him. I shook hands with him. Upon his request, I told him who was with me in the vehicle.

"Go back to the vehicle and send my greetings to Mr. Sa'id Hendiyya and tell him I apologise and ask them to return to the Fire Department. Then, come back to us!" he demanded. Indeed, I went back to vehicle and reported to them Mansour's statement. They left for the Fire Department and I returned to the Municipality. I entered the Municipality building with Officer Ra’ed. Meanwhile, he asked me about the keys. "I have some of them. The other keys are in the kitchen." I answered. He asked to go to the kitchen on the second floor. When I reached the lift on the first floor, I saw two Municipality guards sitting on the ground, with soldiers around them. The kitchen door was broken and was full of soldiers. I took the keys from the kitchen. Ra’ed told me that he wanted the key of the Chairman's door and asked me to open it.

He entered the room with a number of soldiers. Meanwhile, I saw the glass panel that separates the Administration from corridors broken. Soldiers had broken it before I arrived. I entered the Chairman's room with Officer Ra’ed and several soldiers, but he ordered me to get out and wait outside. Ten minutes later, the Officer came out and told me to open the Deputy Chairman's room. After I did, he ordered me to stand outside. Meanwhile, I saw a number of soldiers take out several boxes of medium size from these rooms. Approximately an hour and a half later, I heard an explosion on the ground floor of the Municipality building. After four or five minutes, the Officer and a number of soldiers took me down to the Accountants' Department on the first floor.

When I arrived there, I realised that the north-eastern door of the Department was destroyed. After we entered, Officer Ra’ed asked me about the office of Mr. Majdi Fahed and his job. I told him that he was the Financial Director. Officer Ra’ed requested that I open his room, but I could not because I did not have the key. Then, the Officer ordered me to go to the second floor and open the room of Mr. Kamal Shahin, Secretary of the Municipality. Accompanied by a number of soldiers, I opened the door. A few minutes later, I saw soldiers take out two computers from the room. The Officer then asked me to open the tender’s room, which I did. He asked me about the employees working in the room, but I did not know. They entered and searched the room. Thereafter, he demanded that I open all rooms on the first floor; that is the Administration Department. Having searched it, he asked me to go to the third floor – the Engineering Department. I went up with the Officer and a number of soldiers. He asked me to open the first room, which contained maps.

The Officer along with other soldiers entered and kept me outside. Minutes later, I saw them go out with four maps. Then, the Officer demanded that I accompany him to the first floor. There, he asked me about treasures in the Municipality. I said I did not know about any. As we were going down, he saw a treasure on the said floor and asked me about its keys. I said I did not know where they were. I called Dr. Hafeth Shahin, who told me that Mr. 'Imad al-Khayyat had the keys. The Officer told me to get 'Imad, but I called him instead and told him to fetch the treasure keys. Then, the Officer requested keys of the other treasure. I also called Dr. Hafeth and told him what the Officer wanted. He said that Mr. Majdi, the Financial Director, and Abu Wassef, the Legal Advisor of the Municipality, had the keys. The Officer ordered me to tell Dr. Hafeth to bring them to the Fire Department and then
come to the Municipality.

About half an hour later, 'Imad, Majdi and Abu-Wasef arrived in the first department. I then told the Officer that they were there. He requested that I tell them to come to the Municipality building in a fire truck. Having arrived, the Officer asked them about their names. Five minutes later, he told Abu-Wasef and 'Imad to go back to the Fire Department. Then, the Officer, Financial Director and a number of soldiers went to the Accountants' Department and opened two treasures. About 15 minutes later, he allowed Mr. Majdi to return to the Fire Department on foot. The Department was only 200 metres away.

Then, I was accompanied to the first floor and seated beside the Municipality guards. At about 4:00 am, Officer Mansour greeted us and left the building, along with soldiers. He did not mention the reason of the raid nor did he state what he had seized or provide a letter of seized objects. I should note that when the Officer asked about Majdi Fahed and told me to open his room, I did not have the key. After the troops withdrew, I noticed that the aluminium door to Majdi's room had been destroyed before Majdi had arrived at the Municipality building. I also learned from the Municipality officials that nothing was taken from the treasures.

 

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 4331/2008
  • Field researcher: Yousef Qawareiq
  • Affidavit Date: 14 July 2008
  • Name: Muhammad Tawfiq Ahmed ‘Azza
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