|Date:||31 August 2021|
|Location:||Beit Jala, West Bank|
|Accusation:||Throwing Molotov cocktails|
On 31 August 2021, a 16-year-old minor from Beit Jala was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 7:00 p.m. and accused of throwing Molotov cocktails. He reports ill treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He was sentenced to 3 months in prison and fined NIS 3,000. He also received a suspended sentence.
I was arrested from our backyard at around 7:00 p.m. There were no clashes at the time; I was just hanging out with my friends when Israeli soldiers surrounded the area. A group of soldiers took me and one of my friends aside and pushed me to the ground. Five soldiers stood over me and swore at me. They beat me all over my body; on my head and legs, everywhere. My face was swollen and I had pain in my stomach and back.
Then one of the soldiers tied my hands behind my back with two plastic ties on top of each other and tightened them hard. I was in pain and felt my veins were about to bust. My hands swelled and turned blue. I was also blindfolded. The soldiers then took me to the top of a hill where a military jeep was waiting. They dragged me on the ground and caused me further injury and tore my clothes and boots. They constantly swore at me calling me "a son of a whore."
I was put in the back of a jeep where I sat on the metal floor. Inside the jeep soldiers struck me with the back of their guns on my back and broke a rib. I found it hard to breathe and could not take a deep breath. They took me to the nearby military base near the entrance to my village. Then I was left on the floor of a shipping container for three days.
On the first night I asked to use the toilet but the soldiers swore at me and refused my request. Then a female soldier took me to the toilet while I was still blindfolded and tied behind my back. I asked her to remove the blindfold but she refused. She pulled down my trousers and I peed while she was there. It was humiliating.
Then I was taken back to the shipping container where the soldiers were watching a porn film on a mobile phone and turned the volume up so I could hear. I could not sleep. The soldiers woke me up by kicking me when I fell asleep. I spent two nights there and half a day. They brought me some salty pretzels to eat.
After three days I was taken to Atarot police station, in East Jerusalem, where I was put in a small cell with other boys. I was left there for about five hours and then soldiers removed the ties and the blindfold and took me to an interrogation room.
The interrogator wore civilian clothes and had a camera and a voice recorder in the room. He phoned a lawyer for me and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me not to speak and not to confess and not to allow the interrogator to trick me. The conversation lasted for about three minutes and the interrogator was listening on speaker phone.
The interrogator did not inform me of my right to silence and accused me of setting fire to an area in a settlement and throwing a Molotov cocktail. He also accused me of throwing a pipe bomb at a CCTV camera causing it to break. I told the interrogator I wouldn't confess because I was innocent. Then I decided to remain silent. The interrogator thumped the table and threw all the papers on the floor but I remained silent. Then he used very bad language and threatened to rape me. Then he said even if he was to release me this time he was going to arrest me again. He also threatened to arrest my mother and father. Despite all of this pressure, I did not confess. I do not remember whether he asked me to sign any documents.
After the interrogation I was taken to the settlement of Kiryat Arba. I arrived there in the early hours of the morning. I was left outdoors and a soldier who sat next to me showed me footage of him driving a tank in Gaza. Then he brought me a bottle of Coke but did not bring me any food and I was very hungry. At around noon I was taken for interrogation.
I was not tied or blindfolded. The interrogator was in civilian clothes and had a camera and a voice recorder in the room. He did not call a lawyer for me and did not inform me of my right to silence. He looked mean to me.
The interrogator started by telling me he wanted to help me and that I was like a son to him. He advised me to cooperate with him. He told me I was a good person and did not want me to spend time in prison. I told him I had done nothing wrong. Then he repeated the same accusations and I continued to deny them. He was calm and brought me food and cigarettes. He showed me photographs and video footage and told me my friends had confessed against me. He accused me of being a member of a terrorist cell and of belonging to a network of terrorists. At the end he asked me to sign a document in Hebrew. I asked him to translate it and when I found it was identical to what I had told him I signed it.
After the interrogation I was taken to a hospital because my head had a bump and my face swelled. A female doctor examined me and gave me first aid treatment. Then I was taken to the police station in Etzion settlement where I was put in a cell with other boys. I spent 16 days there. The conditions in the cell were bad; not enough blankets and the ones they gave us were dirty. The food was unappetizing and the cell did not have any windows. When I caused trouble demanding better food and more blankets, I was taken to another cell by myself as punishment. I was taken there four times, each time for a few hours.
My first military court hearing was about two weeks after my arrest. It was on zoom and my parents did not attend because they were not informed. I had about 11 court hearings. At the last one, which was on the day of my release, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to three months in prison and fined NIS 3,000. I was also given another two years in prison suspended for five years. My lawyer encouraged me to accept the plea bargain and I did.
After spending 16 days at Etzion I was transferred to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem. At Ofer I was strip searched and then I was put in the quarantine section where I spent 17 days. Then I was taken to the minors’ section where I spent the rest of my sentence.
I was released at Al Jib checkpoint on 18 November 2021. I called my family and they came and picked me up. I went home with my father and brothers, we arrived home at around 1:00 a.m.
In prison I lifted weights to keep fit and I attended classes with other boys. I was denied family visits for security reasons.