Saturday, August 14, 2004

Held at gunpoint in Nablus

"I'm so sorry this has happened to you in my house," she said, "and that I can't get you some coffee."

Dr Hamdan pleaded to be allowed to move her; Rana's blood pressure was high. The soldiers refused.

As the minutes stretched into hours, he asked how long we would be kept there.

"You'll be here until we kill someone," a soldier replied, in perfect English.

"We're being held illegally," I said.

The soldiers nodded in agreement, but still refused to let us go. "You could compromise our operation," one said, "by revealing our location."

But there are few secrets in Balata. Local people already knew that troops had been in the house, and might still be there.

There were ugly moments as the doctor continued to plead for his patient.

"Rana is old," he said "and needs to rest. Why does she have to stay?"

"Because her son blew himself up near my house," one soldier taunted, and then laughed. Rana has no children.

Later a few threats were murmured in my direction.

"She'll get out of here in a body bag," one soldier said in Hebrew, assuming incorrectly, that we would not understand.

More at source: BBC News

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