Riham is 15 years old from Tulkarem refugee camp. She comes from a large family of 9, who have suffered from financial problems since the death of their father. Riham was on her way to visit some relatives in al-Tira when she was arrested on 20 February 2003 at Tulkarem checkpoint, after allegedly attempting to attack soldiers with a large knife. Soldiers at the checkpoint shot her twice in the stomach and she was taken to Ma’er hospital inside Israel, near Kufr Saba. She has since had three operations to remove pieces of exploding bullets from her intestines and leg.
On 27 May 2003, Riham was charged with "attempting to kill a soldier" with a knife and sentenced to 1 year imprisonment and a 14-month suspended sentence.
The most startling thing about Riham’s case was the cruel treatment she was subjected to after her arrest, particularly when you consider her age and medical condition. After two major operations to remove bullet fragments, Riham was kept shackled, both hands and feet, to the hospital bed in Kufr Saba. She was transferred from the civilian hospital to an adult prison hospital, without specialist care in early March 2003. There, her condition worsened and she developed complications which meant that she had to be transferred back to the civilian hospital in Kufr Saba. Following further treatment, she was transferred to Ramle women’s prison, which houses between 10-12 girl prisoners alongside some 50 adult prisoners. In June 2003, Riham had a further operation at Kufr Saba hospital and her condition has now improved. Despite these frightening experiences, Riham has still not been able to see any of her family since her arrest.
Riham gave the following sworn affidavit to the DCI lawyer on March 27 2003 about her experiences :
....."When the soldiers saw me, they opened fire on me and I was hit in the stomach, although I didn’t fall to the ground. I kept standing in the same spot, not moving, so that they would stop shooting. However, another soldier shot me in the leg and then I fell to the ground. Many soldiers appeared and started to cordon off the area, but none of them came near me. They asked me - from a distance - to take all my clothes off including my underwear, so that they could examine them. I said not unless they brought me a cover, so they did that and I took my clothes off under the cover, and put them on one side. They took them, even though I was wounded and bleeding.
After this, they took me in an ambulance to (Ma’er) hospital (in Kufr Saba). I lost consciousness in the ambulance and when I woke up it was Saturday, which means that I was unconscious from Thursday 20 February to the afternoon of Saturday 22 February. I remained in that hospital for 2 weeks.
I had two operations, one on my leg and another on my stomach. In the second operation, they removed parts of my intestines which had been torn by an (exploding) bullet. Whilst I was in the hospital for these two weeks, I was tied to the bed with both my hands and my feet, despite the strong pain I was in. Four soldiers guarded the room and treated me very badly. I found it very difficult to sleep because of the way they kept on harassing me. It was also very difficult to go to the toilet."
On a visit, the DCI lawyer found that Riham was even tied up when she went to the bathroom or ate food. When he objected, one of the guards said it was to prevent her from escaping. This was completely excessive, since Riham was barely able to reach the bathroom and was guarded by up to 4 soldiers.
"I remained in Ma’er hospital for two weeks, after which they moved me to Ramle prison hospital, where my condition deteriorated. They then moved me back to Ma’er hospital in Kufr Saba for another five days, where I was treated with antibiotics. The soldiers treated me extremely badly and wouldn’t allow me to receive any clothes from outside, or even a bottle of juice which the lawyer brought. After this, they put me back in Ramle prison hospital for 5 days and then the prison itself. I am currently (27/3/03) in Ramle prison where they give me painkillers because I sometimes feel pains in my stomach. The prison guards treat me badly, in a way that you shouldn’t treat a girl who has been injured. However, I get a lot of help from the other prisoners who told me that I will be moved back to Kufr Saba hospital at the start of next month (April), for another operation.
What I really want is to see my family before the operation, as this will really make me feel better, both in health and spirits. I haven’t seen any of my family since I was arrested."