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Testimony: L.M.H.Z.


Name: L.M.H.Z.
Age: 16
Date: 6 March 2021
Location: Al Khader, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones

On 6 March 2021, a 16-year-old minor was arrested by Israeli soldiers during clashes in Al Khader at 11:00 p.m. He reports being interrogated without first being informed of his legal rights under Israeli military law.  

Clashes broke out after Israeli soldiers entered the town where I work at a restaurant. It was around 11:00 p.m. I went outside to have a look when I was suddenly grabbed by a group of soldiers. One of the soldiers punched me in the chest which cause me a lot of pain. The soldiers were also swearing at me. 
Then one of the soldiers tied my hands behind my back with three plastic ties: one on each wrist and another connecting the two. The ties were tight and painful and left a mark on my wrists for days. He also blindfolded me before taking me to the back of a military jeep where I sat on a seat. They drove me to a nearby military base where I was left in a room on a chair overnight. I could not sleep.
The next morning, I was taken to the police station in Etzion settlement. We arrived there at around noon. I was searched in my boxer shorts before being taken to a room with other detainees. On the third day I was given a COVID test and I tested positive. I was immediately transferred to Ofek prison in the north of Israel where I was in isolation for 23 days. During this time I was interrogated.
The interrogator did not inform me of my right to silence. He wanted to know what I had done and accused me of throwing stones at soldiers. I denied the accusation. Half way through the interrogation he phoned a lawyer and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me I had the right to remain silent and that he was going to assign a date for the court hearing. He told me, god willing, I was going to be released soon. The conversation lasted less than two minutes.
The interrogation lasted for about 10 minutes during which time the interrogator was calm. I continued to deny the accusation. At the end the interrogator wanted me to sign a document written in Hebrew but I refused to sign. 
I had five military court hearings via video link. At the first hearing, which my mother attended, my detention was extended and the hearing was adjourned. On my last hearing I was sentenced in a plea bargain to four months in prison and fined NIS 1,000. I also received a suspended sentence for one year. I accepted the plea bargain because I was told they wanted to lock me up for eight months. My parents paid more money for an early release because I was very stressed in prison. 
After spending 23 days in isolation I was transferred to Ofer prison where I spent the rest of my prison sentence. I did not have any family visits because of the Corona Virus regulation but I was allowed to call home from a monitored pay phone once every two weeks.
I was released at Ofer checkpoint on 5 May 2021 and I went home with my family. We arrived home at around 8:00 p.m.