Testimony - M.T.
|Date of incident:||10 April 2013|
|Location:||Al 'Arrub, West Bank|
On 10 April 2013, a 17-year-old boy from the Al 'Arrub refugee camp, near Bethlehem, is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 2:30 a.m. and accused of throwing stones.
“At around 2:30 a.m. my sister woke me up and told me that Israeli soldiers had come to our house. Before I was able to comprehend what was going on I saw a soldier above me telling me to get up. There were two other soldiers in my bedroom wearing masks. I heard one of the soldiers tell my mother they were going to take me away and that they would bring me back the following day. I didn’t believe him. He told me to say goodbye to my mother and to get dressed. He did not tell me why they were taking me or where.”
“They took me outside, blindfolded me, tied my hands to the front with three plastic ties and led me to a military vehicle that was waiting at the entrance to the camp. They made me sit on a small piece of metal in the middle of the vehicle. The vehicle drove to Etzion settlement. They made me wait outside the interrogator’s room for about two hours. At around 4:00 a.m. an interrogator introduced himself as 'Daniel’ and grabbed me by the shirt and told me to follow him. He asked me if I wanted to be treated like a dog or like a human being and I told him I wanted to be treated like a human being. He took me into the interrogation room and asked me if I wanted some coffee. He also offered me cigarettes. No one told me anything about my rights.”
“A soldier removed my blindfold and cut off the hand ties. The interrogator showed me some pictures of young men in our camp and asked me if I knew any of them. I said no. He also showed me a picture of myself on top of the minaret in the camp. He accused me of throwing stones. He also accused me of throwing paint at Israeli military vehicles. He told me that my cousin had confessed against me. I confessed to throwing stones. He also wanted me to confess against other boys in the camp but I remained silent. He then gave me a document written in Hebrew to sign and I initially refused. He then explained what the document said so I signed.”
“At around 6:00 a.m. he called my parents. He told my father to appoint me a lawyer. Soldiers then took me to wait outside the room while my cousin was being interrogated. While waiting out in the cold soldiers cursed me and called me son of a whore. They then took me to the cell where I spent two nights. They brought me some rice mixed with vegetables which looked rotten. The food was disgusting and I didn’t eat. I only had some chocolate milk which they brought along with the rice.”
“On the second night soldiers woke me up at around 3:30 a.m. and told me I was being taken to Ofer prison, near Ramallah. On arrival at Ofer I was given a medical checkup. They also did a security check. They told me to take off my clothes, but I was allowed to keep my underwear on. Then I was taken to the prison cell where I stayed with children my age.”
“The following day I was taken to Ofer military court. The judge asked me who my lawyer was and I named the lawyer I wanted my family to appoint. The hearing was adjourned. I was represented by another lawyer who did not show up in court for three consecutive sessions. I told the judge I didn’t want him to represent me. I had nearly 20 court hearings and I remained in jail during this time. On the last hearing the lawyer, whom my family appointed, asked me if I was willing to accept a plea bargain he was able to negotiate. He explained to me that the prosecutor had asked for nine months imprisonment but the plea bargain included a three-and-a-half month prison sentence and a fine of NIS 2,000 (about $570). I told him I accepted the bargain.”
“I was released from jail in mid-July. On the day I was supposed to be released I waited and waited for the guard to call my name but he never did. I was very disappointed when I realised I wasn’t going to be released that day because the lawyer had forgotten to give the fine slip to my parents. I so badly wanted to go home. My mother had cooked a big meal and invited all our relatives and friends thinking I was going to be released on that day. Everyone was disappointed. The worst thing about spending time in prison was that I missed my mother. I wanted to be with her at home.”