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Justice For Harmed Palestinian Doctor

"The details of the incidents are unknown"- chronicle of an unrepresentative case.

In an unusual step, following a complaint by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and Machsom Watch, a soldier and his commander were brought to justice after harming a Palestinian doctor.

Over the course of the past three and a half years Physicians for Human Rights-Israel has received many complaints regarding soldiers using violence against Palestinians trying to pass through the many internal checkpoints which fragment the West Bank.

PHR-Israel's demands that these incidents be investigated and that the perpetrators be brought to justice in these cases were refused repeatedly under the claim that "the details of the incidents are unknown".

When the soldiers' versions - which refute the events in their entirety - are compared to the Palestinians' versions, the Israeli security system, at all its levels, chooses to believe the soldiers. In the event to be described below, several circumstances came together and aided in bringing the attacker and his commander to justice.

On Thursday, 19 February 2004, women who volunteer with Machsom (Checkpoint) Watch - an Israeli NGO - reported to PHR-Israel, that one of the soldiers at Beit Iba checkpoint, in front of their eyes, attacked Dr. Walid Sa'ada, who was waiting there. They also confiscated his identity card. Following PHR-Israel’s persistent complaints to the Civil Administration, the identity card was returned to him.

The event, however, did not end there. The identity card was confiscated for a second time, and PHR-Israel again complained to the Civil Administration. The soldier reacted to this and ran towards Dr. Sa'ada and head butted him, while wearing his helmet, and injured him. Only then did the soldier return the identity card to its owner. When the volunteers from Machsom Watch approached the soldier's commander, a sergeant, demanding that he stop the abuse, this man denied the incident entirely.

PHR-Israel immediately complained to an officer at the Civil Administration demanding that they send military police to the scene without delay in order to protect the victim from his attacker and to stop the abuse. Additionally, PHR-Israel stated that it would be possible to collect testimonies and to identify the attackers, in a manner which would guarantee that they would not be able to esca

The presence of Israeli witnesses at the scene as the event occurred was the reason that the attacking soldier and his commander were immediately sentenced. As previously stated, experience has shown that if the soldiers' versions of events dispute the Palestinians' versions, the army prefers to conduct a superficial inquiry- if at all- and does not open a true investigation.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel has close contact with the volunteers from Machsom Watch, and with Palestinian health workers who try to pass through the many checkpoints which fragment the West Bank, in an attempt to guarantee that those responsible for abuse, delays and prevention of movement, be brought to justice.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel calls upon the government of Israel to remove the internal checkpoints in the West Bank, due to the mortal damage they cause to the Palestinian civil society in general, and specifically to the residents' ability to realize their right to health.

Physicians for Human Rights–Israel (PHR–Israel) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization founded in 1988 and currently comprising some 840 members, with the aim of striving to promote medical human rights in Israel and in the territories under Israel’s effective control. The basic values of PHR–Israel are human dignity, protection of bodily and mental integrity, and promotion of the right to health and medical care.

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