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Affidavit No. 4472/2008

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, Mahmoud Muhammad Mahmoud al- Dweik, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 977217033, born on 20 June 1957, a merchant and a resident of Jamal ‘Abd-al-Naser Street, Bethlehem City, Bethlehem Governorate, would like to declare the following:

At dawn on 12 October 2008, I was asleep in my house located along Jamal ‘Abd-al-Naser Street. At about 5:30 am, I woke up to the sound of an explosion, the source of  which I did not know. Then, I heard the sound of another explosion. Two or three minutes later, my cellular telephone rang. My sister Ibtisam, about 43 years of age, said that the Israeli army had surrounded the house and demanded that the residents  go down to the street. My sister lived with my mother and with my two sons at my mother's house along al-Saff Street, about 200 metres away from my house. I drove my car to my mother's house. When I was at a distance of about 100 metres west of the house, soldiers pointed their weapons at my face and ordered me to get back.

Then, I accessed a side road. Almost 40 metres away from the house, soldiers stopped me. "Where are you going?" a soldier asked me. "To my house. I am from the family of al-Dweik." I replied. The soldier told me to wait. He talked to another person on the wireless and told him that I was there. He talked in Hebrew which I understood somewhat. Having told me to wait for a short while, the soldier then sent me to an officer wearing a military uniform, who stood near the outer wall of my mother's house. Before I arrived, the house residents were all out: my mother In'am Muhammad ‘Abd-al-Halim Halim al-Dweik, about 65 years old; my sons Muhammad, about 26 years old; Munther, about 24 years old; Amir, who is about 22 years old and was visiting his grandmother that night; and my sister Ibtisam. My relatives sat on a sidewalk opposite the house. The officer asked me if any one else was in the house.

I said that there was nobody else. My mother's house consists of two storeys. The officer inquired about the first floor of my mother's house, which was comprised of two flats, both of which were closed. "It is a closed flat. I store materials inside for use at my construction site nearby," I explained. The officer accused me of lying and said that there was a wanted person inside the apartment. "Give me his name and I will call him and ask him to get out," I offered. "That is none of your business," the officer replied. "I have the key to the apartment. No one else has a key. Let me open the flat and get the person out," I said. The officer replied again that it was none of my business, but said I could call the wanted person and tell him to come out of the flat. Again, I asked him to give me the person's name so that I could call him. However, he insisted it was not my business. Then, the officer gave me a loudspeaker and demanded that I call the person inside the house as he said. No one came out. About half  an hour later, the officer told me to call again. "I will bring a bulldozer to demolish the house. Prepare a tent for yourself" the officer said too. "You can do so." I replied.

When it was around 7:40 am, the army took me and my family members, who were in the house, to our neighbours' house opposite my mother's house. The house was located across the street, west of my mother's, and belonged to al-Haj Zein Salhab. Soldiers demanded that my family members and I stay in the hall. They detained my neighbour's family members in one room, while soldiers also remained with us in the hall. Some soldiers had dogs. One of these dogs had a small device and wires fixed
on its neck and back.

When we were in Salhab's house, we heard the sound of bullets and shells fired. That started at around 8:00 am and lasted for about an hour. At around 9:00 am, we heard the sound of a bulldozer. While shots were still being fired, we heard the bulldozer demolish the house. When we were in our neighbour's house, the officer took us to an adjacent room and interrogated us about people who were allegedly present in the house. In particular, he interrogated me, my son Amir, and my sister Ibtisam.

After the gunshots ceased, a soldier released a dog. After almost half an hour, the dog returned to the hall. I saw a soldier connect a small monitor on his hand to the devices fixed on the dog. The monitor showed images of the area surrounding my mother's house as well as the interior of the house. I could see this because I was close to the soldier. Then, the soldiers removed the handcuffs from my sons' hands where they had been handcuffed in our neighbour's house. Later, soldiers started to withdraw from the area. "Where is the wanted person you were talking about?" I asked the officer who had spoken with me. However, he did not answer me and left in a military jeep.

Then, I went to the house. The furniture on the floor where my mother, sister and sons lived was completely destroyed. Walls were also damaged by shells. Furthermore, there were two holes, both approximately one metre in diameter, in the floor of the second storey. On the ground floor, interior walls had been demolished and some exterior walls were gravely damaged, with one of them having been partially demolished. The outer wall and storage unit, almost 50 metres long, were also demolished. Since that time, my mother has not been able to go back to living in her house, as it is no longer fit for residence. It needs major restoration and maintenance. As a result, my mother and sister now reside at my house and at my brother’s.

 

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 4472/2008
  • Field researcher: Hisham Sharabati
  • Affidavit Date: 13 November 2008
  • Name: Mahmoud Muhammad Mahmoud al- Dweik
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