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Violent confrontation at Nablus checkpoint

Dec. 26, 2010 7:09 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 27, 2010 8:10 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- A Nablus man was strangled with a radio wire by Israeli soldiers, witnesses said, while Israeli officials said he attempted to stab an officer, prompting his arrest and the temporary detention of two others on Sunday.

A witness, standing near the scene at the Tappuah checkpoint south of Nablus, said he observed a violent and unprovoked attack against his friend Bilal Hassan, 20.

University student Ahmad Judi told Ma'an that his friend Bilal was standing with two other young men waiting for a taxi to bring them to Salfit. After they had been waiting for some time, he said he saw a military jeep pull up and soldiers disembark.

"I could hear them speaking Hebrew," Judi said, adding that Hassan and did not speak the language, though he said he did not know the other men.

Hassan, the other two men and the soldiers exchanged some angry words, Judi said, then suddenly one soldier took a radio communicator mouthpiece and wrapped its wire around Hassan's neck.

Hassan then pushed the soldier with the wire, Judi related, and was promptly beaten by the other soldiers from the car.

"The moment the soldiers stepped out of the jeep they began to beat Bilal," Judi said, adding that his friend was put in a military vehicle and taken away.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said all three men from the checkpoint were detained, after soldiers on the scene identified them as "suspects," who when approached by officers began to "swear and riot." She said the officers were verbally assaulted from a distance, but added that when the local commander approached, one of the men "attempted to stab him with a sharp plank."

The other two men were later released, she said, while Hassan was transferred to the Meggido prison.

Prison officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

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