Testimony - A.M.
||Balata refugee camp, West Bank
||5 April 2013
On 5 April 2013, a 15-year-old boy from the Balata refugee camp, near Nablus, is arrested by Israeli soldiers whilst attending a demonstration at Huwwara checkpoint.
“On Friday, 5 April 2013, I attended a demonstration at Huwwara checkpoint. We were protesting the death of a prisoner. When I arrived at the checkpoint I saw stones being thrown at the soldiers. I decided to leave that location. As I turned my back I heard people saying more soldiers had arrived. I looked back and saw more soldiers coming from the direction of Huwwara military base. I was scared and started to run. When the soldiers got closer I decided to jump into a ditch along the side of the road in order to escape them. Two soldiers chased and grabbed me. They began to kick and beat me with their guns on my back and legs. It was very painful. They took me to a military jeep and continued to beat me inside. They swore at me and called my mother and sister whores. They slapped me on the face and struck me with their guns and pushed me around. The jeep drove to Huwwara military base.”
“When we arrived at Huwwara, a soldier painfully tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie. I told the soldier the tie was too tight. He said something in Hebrew which I didn’t understand but he didn’t loosen the tie. I was also blindfolded. Then somebody walked me for about half-an-hour and took me to a room. I felt I was made to stand facing a wall. Somebody punched me very hard in my back and pushed me against the wall. Then I was taken to a container. In the container I was sprayed with something that had the smell of an insecticide. They sprayed my neck, my ears and over the blindfold. A short time later I was taken to see a doctor. I was asked if I had any health issues and was given a questionnaire to fill out. After this I was retied and blindfolded in the same way as before.”
“After the medical check I was led away. We stopped and I was told to sit. I thought I was sitting on a chair but there was nothing there and I fell to the ground. I sat on the ground for about six or seven hours. I could hear other boys nearby. I asked for some food but was only brought some water. I was allowed to use the toilet when I asked. Sometime around midnight I was taken to Ari’el settlement. I was slapped and beaten in the vehicle along the way with metal batons. It was painful and I injured my shoulder. The soldiers swore at me and insulted my mother and sisters. On arrival at Ari’el, I was made to wait outside the police station for about 30 minutes. I was still tied and blindfolded. For some reason I was then taken back to Huwwara. On arrival back at Huwwara I was made to sit on the ground before being taken into an office with four other boys my age. We were so tired we slept on the floor. We were still tied and blindfolded.”
“At around 6:00 a.m. I was kicked by a soldier to wake me up. I was then taken back to Ari’el settlement for a second time. On arrival at Ari’el I was taken for interrogation. The interrogator removed the blindfold but kept my hands tied to the chair, each hand separately. He took a picture of me and took my fingerprints. The interrogator told me I had the right to silence and asked me questions about the day when I was arrested. In the beginning I told him I wasn’t going to answer his questions because I had the right to silence but when my father came into the interrogation room I answered his questions. My father came a bit late but he stayed until the end of the interrogation. The interrogator accused me of throwing stones but I denied it. I told him I wasn’t involved in things like that. He told me I was a liar. He asked me about the other boys and young men and I told him I didn’t know them. The interrogation lasted for about 30 minutes. He then showed me a document written in Hebrew and asked me to sign it. I told him I wasn’t going to sign anything I didn’t understand. He called a policeman who translated the paper for me and then I signed it.”
“After the interrogation I was taken back to Huwwara. I asked a soldier for some food as I hadn’t eaten for a whole day. A soldier brought some food but started to feed a dog while I watched. I was later given some food. After I had eaten I was put in a prison cell with another boy my age. The following day I was transferred to Meggido prison, inside Israel. I arrived there late at night. On arrival at Meggido I was strip searched. They made me take off my clothes including my underwear. They asked me to crouch and to stand up while naked a couple of times. Then I was taken to a prison cell where I was held with about 90 boys my age.”
“Three days later I was taken to Salem military court. It was in court that I saw my lawyer for the first time. I showed the judge the injury to my shoulder but he told me I couldn’t be serious and didn’t take this into consideration. My lawyer told me the hearing was adjourned. My lawyer visited me in jail and a few days later I had another court hearing. I was accused of taking part in an illegal demonstration and of throwing stones. The charge sheet said that soldiers witnessed me throwing stones but those soldiers never appeared in court. I was sentenced to four months in jail and fined NIS 1,000. My parents visited me four times in jail. My father, my mother and my little sister came. Their first visit was two months after I was arrested. I was released from jail on 5 August 2013.”