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Home » Children »

Testimony: A.R.S.Z.

 

Name:  A.R.S.Z.
Age:  17
Date:  31 March 2021
Location:  Al Jalazun, West Bank
Accusation:  Throwing Molotov cocktail

On 31 March 2021, a 17-year-old minor from Al Jalazun refugee camp was arrested at home by Israeli soldiers at 2:30 a.m. He reports being held in solitary confinement for 25 days at Etzion interrogation centre.

Israeli soldiers raided our home at around 2:30 a.m. They broke open the front gate and then came upstairs to our apartment. I was asleep when I heard loud banging at the front door. My father opened the door and about 13 soldiers came in. They asked to see our identity cards and then the commander told my father I was under arrest. He did not give my parents any documents and did not tell us the reason for my arrest.
 
A soldier tied my hands whist still inside the house. He did so in front of my mother who started to cry and plead with the soldier to leave me alone. He tied my hands to the front with two plastic ties on top of each other. The ties were tight and painful. Then they took me outside where they blindfolded me and led me towards the settlement of Beit El. I was tied and blindfolded the whole way. Along the way soldiers punched me in the chest and kicked me on my legs. They also swore at me.
 
At the settlement I was put in a dark room where I was left until around 8:00 a.m. I asked for some water but the soldiers refused. I was also desperate to use the toilet but they did not allow me to go.
 
At around 8:00 a.m. I was put in a military jeep where I sat on a seat and driven to the police station in Binyamin settlement. At Binyamin I was left on the ground in an outdoor area for about two hours. Then I was strip searched and taken to a cell. At around 11:00 a.m. a soldier removed the blindfold, shackled my legs and then took me for interrogation.
 
The interrogator did not remove the ties or the shackles. He was in civilian clothes. dHe asked me for my name and where I was from and then phoned a lawyer for me. The lawyer told me not to be afraid and that I was a suspect. He also told me there was no evidence against me. He spoke to me for about 10 seconds while the interrogator listened on the speaker phone. 
 
Then, without informing me of my right to remain silent, the interrogator told me there were confessions against me by another boy who told him I had thrown a Molotov cocktail at Beit El settlement. I denied the allegation and told the interrogator I had nothing to do with the incident. He told me the incident took place on 28 February 2021 and named the boy who gave the confession. I continued to deny the accusation.
 
Then the interrogator became angry. He spoke to me in a loud voice and told me I had to confess. He was very rough and treated me with contempt and humiliation. He made me feel like I was a filthy dog. 
 
He questioned me for about two hours and typed on his computer the whole time. He repeated the allegations over and over again and urged me to confess. I continued to deny the accusation. He showed me photographs of boys from the camp and wanted me to give hime their names. I told him I did not know the boys. 
 
At the end he showed me documents written in Hebrew and asked me to sign them. He told me they were identical to what I had told him but did not translate them for me. I signed without understanding what I had signed on. Then I was taken to Etzion settlement where I was left in solitary confinement for 15 days.
 
While in solitary confinement I was in deep distress and kept thinking about ways to kill myself to end my loneliness and intense suffering. I tied the blanket to the metal handle of the door and then wrapped the blanket around my neck. I acted completely out of control and was not thinking of the consequences. When my plan did not work I removed the blanket and went to sleep.
 
I was given a cracker a day for food and I lost about 10 kilograms. I was allowed to take a break for 10 minutes a day when I was allowed to leave the cell but I was not allowed to speak to anyone. 
 
During my time in solitary confinement I had three military court hearings on video link. The first one was three days following my arrest. My parents were not informed about the hearing and they did not join the video link. 
 
After spending 15 days in solitary confinement I was taken to the quarantine section at Megiddo prison inside Israel. I was strip searched when I arrived and I was isolated for 13 days with another boy. Then I was taken to the juvenile section at Megiddo. A week later I was transferred to Ofer prison where I was strip searched again.
 
I attended seven military court hearings. At the last one, which was on 21 June 2021, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to nine months in prison and a fine of NIS 2,000. I was also given an additional one year in prison suspended for five years. I was sentenced based on my friend’s testimony. I accepted the plea bargain because I was tired of court hearings and wanted the whole process to come to an end. 
 
I spent three months in Ofer and then I was transferred back to Megiddo. I was released at Al Jalama checkpoint on 9 December 2021. I went home with my father, my grandfather and my two uncles. I arrived home at around 11:30 p.m. 
 
In prison I helped keep the ward clean in order to pass the time. I had three family visits. I dropped out of school when I was in ninth grade; now I want to look for a job to support my family.