M.A., 40 years old, lives in Atatra in the Gaza Strip.
His testimony was taken on 14.1.09, at 9:00am.
"On January 4th, the army entered Gaza and began to bomb the neighborhood. My brothers and I live in this area. The soldiers began to shoot at my house, a 4-story building, and also to launch sonic bombs. My neighbor's house was burned to the ground, as was my brother's home. My neighbor and my brother came to my house. We were 22 people in the house. The women and children cried all the time. I was constantly screaming at the soldiers to stop shooting at us. We are civilians, farmers, why are they shooting at us? It didn't help.
"The next morning (5.1), the soldiers banged on the door and I continued to scream at them not to shoot. They separated the men from the women and children. They told the women and children to go to Jabaliya. They blindfolded and handcuffed me, my three children, my brother, his four children and my brother-in-law. They put us in a ditch about three meters deep and there were around 70 other people there. We were there for two days (5-6.1), without food, without blankets and without water. They also didn't allow us to go to the bathroom. No one spoke to us and the whole time, the bombing continued. We were close to the American University – near the entrance to Dugit. Afterwards, they loaded us onto trucks. I felt like the trucks were taking us through rural areas and we were thrown from our seats, bruised and beaten from constantly falling. They brought us to another ditch, 500 meters from Zikim. There was an interrogation facility there. I was blindfolded and handcuffed the whole time. There, they interrogated us, one by one, for about an hour. The interrogator spoke Arabic. They asked us if we knew anything about Hamas, the tunnels, the rocket launchers; if we had any connection with them. We stayed there 3 days (7-9.1) without food, without water, without blankets. It was freezing there. Even when we asked to go to the bathroom, no one listened to us and the whole time the soldiers beat up anyone who asked for anything.
"After three days (10.1.), they took all 20-25 people to a bus, still blindfolded and handcuffed. They took us to a huge shipping container next to Beer Sheva. There were about 140 people standing around the container. I was sure there was an airport nearby, as I heard the noise of many airplanes. There, they told us to undress and gave us army overalls. Afterwards, they took each of us, one by one, by car (handcuffed and blindfolded) to an interrogation room. It seemed to me like the driver purposely drove around a lot in order to disorient us, he often drove in reverse, the room where they brought us was in fact very close by. Once there, I was interrogated by a Druze-Arab interrogator. He asked me about the rocket launchers, Hamas and the tunnels. He showed me pictures of houses and told me to point out which ones belonged to Hamas and if I didn't, my house would be destroyed. I told him that I'm just a farmer and I want to support my children. The interrogation continued for about an hour. I was there for two days (10-11.1). At the end of the interrogation, the interrogator threatened that if I spoke about this to anyone, he knows where my house is, and would come and destroy it.
"Before my release (11.1), they made me sign three forms in Hebrew. I had no idea what was written there and I didn't ask. I was afraid they would beat me, as anyone who asked anything was beaten.
"Afterwards, they took us to a bus, handcuffed and blindfolded. They ordered us to keep our heads down the whole time. Anyone who lifted their head, was hit on the head by a soldier. My neck hurt so much that I felt like the drive took three days.
"We arrived at Erez. We were about 86 people. The soldiers ordered us to take Balsam Road, which leads to Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun, and Jabaliya. We were not allowed to look back; a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) hovered just above us. No one shot at us on the return journey."
The comments in parentheses were added by HaMoked