|| 10 August 2018
|| Askar, West Bank
|| Starting a fire
On 10 August 2018, 15-year-old youth from Askar refugee camp is arrested by Israeli soldiers near the settlement of Elon Moreh and accused of starting a fire. He reports being informed of his legal rights but not consulting with a lawyer prior to interrogation.
On the afternoon of 10 August 2018, I went for a walk with my friends on the hill near the settlement of Elon Moreh. Shortly afterwards a group of Israeli soldiers in military jeeps and some settlers in civilian cars drove towards us. When they came close the occupants of the vehicles got out and chased us.
We all ran away but the soldiers started to fire live bullets in our direction. I was terrified as I heard the bullets hissing by my head. I thought I was going to be killed. I quickly stopped and immediately lay on the ground with my face down and my hands behind my back. The soldiers were swearing at me, cursing god and the profit and calling me “a son of a whore”.
Then one of the soldiers searched me, took my telephone and a pack of cigarettes and then tied my hands behind my back with one plastic ties which was very tight and painful. It left marks on my wrists for weeks. Then I was led towards a military jeep and a soldier got out and slapped me hard on my face. He then tore a piece of cloth and blindfolded me and tightened it very hard. I remained blindfolded for a long time and it was very uncomfortable.
Then I was taken inside the settlement where I sat on a chair in a shipping container for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes I was taken to the back of a jeep where I was thrown on the metal floor on top of the other boys who were arrested with me. We were 5 boys and we were all taken to a clinic where I was examined.
The doctor removed my blindfold but kept my ties on. He took my blood pressure and asked me some questions about my health. Then I was re-blindfolded and taken to the police station in Ariel settlement. I arrived there at around 6:00 p.m.
At Ariel I was left in a room until around 2:00 a.m. During this time soldiers separated me from the other boys and they asked each of us to stand in a corner and did not allow us to sit down. I leaned against the wall and almost fell asleep, I was exhausted. At around 1:00 a.m. a soldier asked me for my father’s phone number and he called him and told him where I was. I was given a cheese sandwich and some water. At around 2:00 a.m. I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator was female who wore a black uniform and spoke through an interpreter. She asked me if I wanted a lawyer and I told her there was no need for one. Then she told me I had the right to remain silent. Then she wanted to know what I was doing in the area near the settlement. I told her I was going for a walk with my friends. Then she wanted to know who started a fire near the settlement. I told her I did not know. I denied I was involved in the fire.
The interrogator never looked me in the eye. She addressed the interpreter the whole time. She wanted me to give her the names of the other boys who were with me but I did not give her any names. She questioned me for about 30 minutes and in the end she showed me documents written in Hebrew and asked me to sign them but I refused to sign.
After the interrogation was over I was re-blindfolded and taken to a room where I waited until the other boys were interrogated. At around 5:00 a.m. I was taken to Huwwara military base. By this time I was exhausted from lack of sleep.
At Huwwara I was left outside, mostly in the sun, from around 6:00 a.m. until around 2:00 p.m. I asked a soldier to loosen the tie but instead he tightened it even more. Then I was taken inside where a soldier wanted to strip searched me but I refused. He then searched me in my underwear and then I was taken into a cell.
I was in the cell with 2 of the other boys and we were left there for about 30 minutes. The tie and the blindfold were removed. We were given some food and then a prison guard told me I could wash my face and freshen up before I was taken to Megiddo prison. The trip took about 2 hours. On the way I was handcuffed to the front with metal handcuffs. At Megiddo I was strip searched before being taken to the juvenile section.
The following day I had a court hearing at Salem military court where I saw a lawyer for the first time. My parents did not attend the hearing because they did not know it was scheduled. The lawyer asked me whether I had confessed and I told him I had not. I was denied bail and the hearing was adjourned.
In all I had about 10 military court hearings. At the last hearing I was sentenced in a plea bargain to 9 months in prison and fined 2,000 shekels. I was also given a suspended sentence of one year in prison suspended for 3 years. I accepted the plea bargain because my lawyer told me that under the charge sheet I was given I could receive a sentence of up to 1 year in prison, so I was happy when I was given 9 months.
I was released on the 15April 2019. My parents were still on their way to Al Jalama when I was released so I waited a short while and then I went home with them. I arrived home at night. My relatives and friends were waiting for me and I was very happy to be back at home.
In prison I studied Arabic, Hebrew and mathematics and my parents visited me twice a month. I don’t want to go back to school but I want to look for a job instead.