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Testimony: A.F.A.Z.


Name:  A.F.A.Z.
Age:  16
Date:  10 October 2022
Location:  Al Mazra'a Asharqiya, West Bank
Accusation:  Throwing stones

On 10 October 2022, a 16-year-old minor from Al Mazra'a Asharqiya was arrested by Israeli soldiers while on his family's land and accused of throwing stones. He reports ill treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison and fined NIS 1,500.

I was with some friends on land owned by my family, enjoying the nice weather, when a group of Israeli soldiers ambushed us. Two soldiers grabbed me and more soldiers joined and started to beat me up. They kicked and slapped me all over my body. They called me "a son of a whore" and pushed me down to the ground. Other soldiers right next to me shot live bullets in the air to scare us. I was terrified. 
A soldier tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie and tightened it hard. The tie was very painful and left marks on my wrists for several days. My palms swelled and I lost sensation which was a scary experience. He then blindfolded me and left me on the ground for about 20 minutes. 
Then the commander came and started to ask me questions without informing me of my rights. He wanted to know what I was doing in the area and whether someone had sent me to throw stones at settlers. I told him we were just having fun on our land, chatting and walking when the soldiers ambushed us for no reason. Then the soldiers made me kneel down on the rough ground until a military jeep arrived. 
Once the jeep arrived I was taken to the back where I sat on a seat. The jeep drove towards a military base near the village of Sinjil where I was left outdoors on the ground for about an hour. Then I was taken to a room where I was left with the other boys who were arrested with me until the following morning. At around 9:00 a.m. I was taken to the police station in Binyamin settlement and I was immediately taken for interrogation.
I was handcuffed during the interrogation. The interrogator was dressed in civilian clothes. Before questioning me, he phoned a lawyer for me and allowed to speak to him. The lawyer told me to deny all accusations and to say no to all questions. The conversation lasted for two minutes and the interrogator was not in the room.
Then, without informing me of my right to silence, the interrogator accused me of throwing stones at a settler car. I denied the accusation. Then he told me my friends had confessed against me and that soldiers saw me throwing stones. I continued to deny the accusation. Then the interrogator started to speak to me in a loud aggressive voice. He wanted me to confess but I did not confess.
I was questioned for about 10 minutes. At the end of the interrogation the interrogator showed me documents written in Hebrew and wanted me to sign them but I refused to sign. Then I was taken to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem, where I was searched in my boxer shorts before being taken to the minors’ section. 
The following day I was taken to the military court. My parents were there and the hearing was adjourned.
A few days later I was taken for another interrogation. The interrogator did not allow me to speak to a lawyer and did not inform me of my right to silence. He accused me of the same accusation and told me it was in my interest to confess. He said if I confessed I would not spend a long time in prison. I did not confess. I was questioned for about 40 minutes. At the end he showed me a document in Hebrew and told me it was my statement. He asked me to sign it and I did. Then I was taken back to Ofer.
I had about seven military court hearings. At the last one, which was on 9 January 2023, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to six months in prison and fined NIS 1,500. I also received another six months in prison suspended for three years in addition to a bond of NIS 4,000. I accepted the deal because my lawyer told me it was the best he could get.
I spent my prison sentence at Ofer prison where I worked at the canteen and attended classes in Arabic, Hebrew and Mathematics. The level was too low and I did not benefit at all. I dropped out of school after tenth grade and I now work as an electrician.
I was given an early release from prison. I was released at a checkpoint near Tulkarem after a hearing in Ramleh where they decided to grant me early release. I was release on 6 February 2023, and I went home by myself because my parents were not informed of my early release. I hitch hiked to a nearby village and then called my father who came and picked me up. I arrived home in the evening and had a warm welcome from all my friends and family. I was very happy to finally be home.