Affidavit No. 4524/2008

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, Talal Muhammad Mahmoud Abu-Thra', of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 940383094,  born on 2 October 1966, a major at the Palestinian Preventive Security agency and a resident of Balata refugee
camp, Nablus Governorate, would like to declare the following:

At about 9:45 pm on 1 December 2008, I was at home in Balata refugee camp. Someone from the refugee camp phoned me and said that a number of Israeli Special Forces’ officers had abducted my cousin Muhammad Kamal Ibrahim Abu- Thra', who is about 26-years-old. The incident took place along al-Quds Street west of Balata refugee camp. Four Israeli Special Forces officers abducted Muhammad from a white van belonging to the Palestinian Preventive Security agency. He was taken onboard a black vehicle with Palestinian plate numbers that was three to four metres away from the Preventive Security van. Troops carried Muhammad by his arms and legs. The incident took place within about four minutes. Afterwards, the Israeli Special Forces drove south from al-Quds Street towards Huwwara checkpoint.

I asked the caller for further information and he said that he also heard three or four shots fired by the Israeli Special Forces troops in the area. However, he did not know whether these shots were fired at Muhammad or in the air. I called the Preventive Security headquarters in Ramallah and reported the incident to Colonel Ziyad Hab al-Reeh, Director of the Preventive Security. I also called the Preventive Security office in Nablus and talked to Mustafa al-Duhdar, the Office Director. I described how Muhammad had been abducted from the Preventive Security van and said, "Had Muhammad not been granted a partial pardon and been complying with the Preventive Security instructions for almost a year and a half? He did not carry a weapon and he stayed overnight at the Preventive Security office.” Al-Duhdar responded that he was outraged at the Israeli action and would personally follow up on the incident with the Israeli authorities.

About 15 minutes later, I called al-Duhdar's office again to ask if anything else had happened. The office staff told me that the Israelis denied that troops took Muhammad. Meanwhile, I received more information from several citizens who went to the area where the incident had taken place after the Israeli Special Forces had left. They said that the Israeli Special Forces troops dropped a wireless communications device in the van and that Preventive Security officers who arrived at the scene took the device. In addition, four bullet cartridges were scattered on the
ground. I exclaimed "How can they deny it?" "Mr. Mustafa will call the Israeli authorities again," the person who received my call replied.

About 15 minutes later, I made another telephone call to the Nablus Preventive Security office. The staff told me that the Israeli authorities admitted carrying out the operation, justifying it by saying that Muhammad had resumed his activity. However,  the Israelis did not inform the Preventive Security office of Muhammad's health condition nor his current location. I managed, however, to get the cellular telephone number of Na'im, the van driver.

When I called Na’im, he explained, "When Muhammad opened the door to climb into the van at the area mentioned, four Israeli Special Forces officers surprised us and approached the van. Three of the officers surrounded Muhammad while the fourth came towards me. Without any warning, one of the officers fired four shots from a pistol at Muhammad. I heard Muhammad shout that his leg was wounded. About one minute later, three or four Special Forces officers, along with three Israeli soldiers in military uniform, approached the van. They forced me out of the van and took me to al-Saqqa's grocery store. Within four minutes, the Israeli Special Forces troops and other soldiers withdrew, taking Muhammad with them onboard a black Suzuki."

As a family, we could do nothing but wait for news of Muhammad's fate. At about 12:00 am, a number of youth from Balata refugee camp came to my house. They said they had the telephone number of ‘Ali Waked, a correspondent with the Israeli army. They called him and asked for information about Muhammad. Waked replied
"He is dead now and his body is being detained by the army."

To be sure, I called Lou'ay al-Sa'di, Director of the Palestinian District Coordination Office (DCO) in Nablus, and asked if he had received any information from the Israeli DCO about Muhammad. Al-Sa'di answered, "A few minutes ago I received a telephone call from the Israeli DCO, stating that Muhammad had died." He also stated that the Israelis would deliver Muhammad's corpse to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society at Huwwara checkpoint at the southern entrance to the city of Nablus. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society would then coordinate the transportation of the corpse to Rafidiya Hospital in the city of Nablus. We would then be called to receive the dead body.

At about 2:00 am the next day, we went to Rafidiya Hospital. At the appointed checkpoint, a Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance had received Muhammad's dead body from an Israeli military vehicle. Martyred Palestinians are usually brought to Rafidyia Hospital for autopsy. About ten minutes after arriving at the checkpoint, Muhammad's corpse arrived at the hospital and was brought into the emergency room.

As a family, we requested that physicians conduct an autopsy on the dead body and extract some of the bullets so that we could find out what type of weapons had been used. We were determined to sue the people who murdered Muhammad. From the autopsy, we sought to have scientific facts about the location of injuries, the types of weapons used, the distance from which the guns had been fired, as well as other information. I was present when the physicians carried out a quick examination of Muhammad's corpse. His clothes, including brown underwear, light blue jeans, a white undershirt, and a black shirt, had been torn apart by the Israelis. I did not understand why they had done this. Muhammad sustained bullet wounds in the chest, above the navel, in the back, and in the pelvis. He also sustained three wounds to the brow, which appeared to be caused by a sharp object. His right eye was also injured. Later, the physicians performed a post-mortem examination on the corpse. From the examination and Xrays, we learned that Muhammad sustained two bullet wounds, one about seven centimetres above the navel that penetrated through his back and the other in the pelvis. Afterwards, the physicians took out a bullet from his kidney, which had been a live bullet fired from a 14 millimetre pistol. We still keep this bullet. The other bullet, which hit Muhammad's pelvis, was left there.

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 4524/2008
  • Field researcher: Yousef Qawareiq
  • Affidavit Date: 4 December 2008
  • Name: Talal Muhammad Mahmoud Abu-Thra'
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