Testimony - S.R.M.
|Date of incident:||31 March 2013|
|Location:||Al Khadr, West Bank|
A 14-year-old boy from the village of Al Khadr, near Bethlehem, is arrested by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration commemorating Land Day. He spends 25 days in Ofer prison.
“On 31 March I was helping my uncle in his carpentry shop,” recalls 14-year-old S.M. “At around 3:30 p.m. I joined a demonstration in the village on the occasion of Land Day. The demonstrators marched towards the main road near the village and some started to throw stones at an Israeli military vehicle. We all fled when the soldiers started firing tear gas at us.” The demonstrators ran back to the village and were chased by some soldiers.
“The soldiers started firing stun grenades at us and I was hit on my ankle,” recalls S.M., who ran inside a house and was followed by two soldiers. “One of the soldiers started to beat me on my legs. I think he also hit me on the head because I had a bad headache later. The woman in the house was screaming. The two soldiers dragged me out and when I clung to the metal railing the soldier hit me on my hand and I let go. They dragged me to a nearby military vehicle and cursed and shouted at me on the way. They cursed my religion and said bad things about my mother and sister.”
S.M. was made to stand by a military vehicle for about an hour until his father came. Father and son were then taken to Gush Etzion settlement where they waited for another hour. They were then driven to Kiryat Arba settlement, near Hebron, where they arrived at around 6:30 p.m. S.M. was taken for interrogation at around 9:30 p.m. He does not recall being informed of his right to see a lawyer or being told that he had a right to silence. However, his father was permitted to accompany his son during the interrogation but was told not to speak. S.M. was interrogated for about 45 minutes and confessed to throwing two stones. The interrogation ended at around 10:30 p.m. and S.M. was then separated from his father and taken to Ofer prison, near Ramallah, where he arrived at about 2:30 a.m.
On arrival at Ofer prison, S.M. was taken to Section 13 where other children were being held. Three days later his legs were put in shackles and he was handcuffed and taken the short distance to Ofer military court. “When my turn came to enter the court there were two other children with me. I don’t know if there was a lawyer in the courtroom, nobody told me anything. I also didn’t understand what was going on in the court. When the court session ended I was taken back to jail. I thought of my mother the whole time.” S.M. believes he appeared in Ofer court on about eight occasions. “I’m not not sure what went on, says S.M. “My parents were not informed about the court hearings and that is why they did not attend except on the last occasion. At the end of the last session I was given some papers in Hebrew and sent back to the prison cell. One of the prisoners there told me they were going to release me the following day.”
“At around 4:00 p.m.the following day the guard called my name and said I was free. I was very happy. It was 25 April. My father had to pay a fine of 3,000 shekels (about $830). Before releasing me I was told to sign a document written in Hebrew, which I did. I don’t know what it was and nobody explained it to me. My father and cousin came to pick me up and we arrived home at around 11:30 p.m. My mother cried when she saw me. My father told me the prosecutor wanted a sentence of four-and-a-half months in prison, but the lawyers kept pushing and pushing until he got me out,” says S.M.