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Testimony: O.B.O.A.


Name: O.B.O.A.
Age: 16
Date: 28 May 2017
Location: Beit Ummar, West Bank
Accusation: Shooting

On 28 May 2017, a 16-year-old youth from Beit Ummar is arrested by Israeli soldiers following a verbal summons to the military watchtower at the entrance to his village. He reports being interrogated without being informed of his legal rights.

Soldiers raided our home at around 3:00 a.m. looking for me but I was staying at my uncle’s house. When they did not find me they wanted to take my brother until I handed myself over but my father assured them he would hand me over in the morning. The soldiers left my brother and told my father to bring me to the petrol station at the entrance to the village at 10:00 a.m. They did not give my father any written documents.
Later that morning my father and I went to the petrol station as ordered. A military jeep was waiting for us. The commander asked me if I threw stones at solders and I told him I did not. Then he took a photo of the bullet wound in my knee. I was shot by soldiers on 5 May when I was standing outside our house during clashes. Then the commander told me to go home.
About 30 minutes later the commander phoned my father and told him to bring me to the military watchtower at the entrance to our village because they wanted to ask me a couple of questions at the police station in Etzion settlement. He told my father he would send me home after the questioning. My father took me as ordered.
As soon as we arrived at the military watchtower a soldier tied my hands to the front with one plastic tie which was not painful. I was also blindfolded. I was then put in the back of a military jeep where I sat on a seat.
The jeep drove to Etzion settlement where I was put in a courtyard until around 2:00 p.m. I sat in the sun most of the time. During this time a doctor gave me a questionnaire with questions about my medical condition. He removed the blindfold and then blindfolded me again. I filled out the questionnaire with my hands tied.
At around 2:00 p.m. two soldiers took me to an interrogation room. The interrogator wore civilian clothes and had a tape recorder in front of him which he turned on and off during the interrogation. He did not inform me of my rights. I wish he had told me I had the right to silence, I would have remained silent. He removed the blindfold but kept me tied. Then he started to mess with my mind. He told me I was a good boy from a good family, and told me he would send me home if I told him everything. He also told me if I did not cooperate he was going to lock me up in prison for three years.
Then he accused me of shooting at soldiers during clashes. I denied the accusation. I told him I was outside our house when I was shot and that I was not involved in anything. He kept repeating the accusation and insisting that I should confess but I continued to deny the accusation. He told me I had to answer his questions. When I did not he shouted at me and told me to talk. He lost his temper and raised his voice at me many times.  He also banged the table to scare me. Still, I did not confess. The interrogation lasted for about 90 minutes and then I was taken to see another interrogator.
The second interrogator told me he was going to ask me some questions and I had to answer them. He had a tape recorder and typed what I was telling him on a computer. He did not inform me of my rights and directed the same accusation at me. I denied the accusation. Then he printed out my statement in Hebrew and asked me to sign it but I refused to sign. I told him I was not going to sign something I did not understand. Then he phoned a lawyer and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me it was ok to sign if I hadn’t confessed and I signed the document.
At around 5:00 p.m. my father came to the police station. They had asked him to bring a copy of my identity card and to sign a document. My father went home and I was left in an outdoor area until around 11:00 p.m. A soldier brought me some yogurt. Then I was searched in my underwear and taken to a prison cell.
At around 9:00 a.m. the following day I was taken to Ofer prison but the prison authorities refused to admit me because of my injury. I was taken back to Etzion and then taken back to Ofer; this time I was admitted. I arrived at Ofer at around 10:00 p.m. I was strip searched and then taken to Section 13. 
The following day I was taken to Ofer military court. My mother and brother were in court and my lawyer. I was told I was accused of shooting at soldiers and the hearing was adjourned.
During my second appearance in the military court I was told there wasn’t enough evidence against me and that they were going to change my charge sheet to setting tires on fire and concealing my identity during clashes by wearing a mask and a military style uniform.
I had about 13 hearings in the military court. During one of the hearings my lawyer tried to get me released on bail but the court rejected his request. During another, the prosecutor requested 18 months imprisonment for me. At another hearing my father brought the trousers I was wearing when I was shot and some photographs and proved to the court that I was not wearing a military uniform nor was I masked.
At the last hearing I was sentenced in a plea bargain to three months in prison and fined 3,000 shekels. I also received a suspended sentence of six months valid for five years. I accepted the plea bargain because I was told two soldiers had testified against me and their testimonies carry a lot of weight in the military court and that I would face 18 months in prison if I rejected the plea bargain.
I spent the last 10 days of my sentence in Megiddo prison, inside Israel. I was transferred to Megiddo because of over crowdedness at Ofer prison. My parents did not visit me in prison because their permit was not issued in time. In prison I did not study because it was the summer holidays.
I was released on 13 August 2017 at Salem checkpoint and I arrived home at around 5:00 p.m. It was a difficult experience for me because I did not do anything wrong. I would expect to be punished had I been involved but I wasn’t.