|Date:||18 May 2022|
|Location:||Till, West Bank|
On 18 May 2022, a 17-year-old minor from Till was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 2:30 a.m. He reports ill-treatment including 13 days in solitary confinement as well as being denied his full legal rights under Israeli military law. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison and fined NIS 3,000.
I was already awake when Israeli soldiers banged at our front door at around 2:30 a.m. I woke my parents up and my father opened the door. About 10 soldiers entered our home.
The commander ordered me and my 22-year-old brother to sit in the living room and ordered the rest of the family, my parents, my three sisters and my 10-year-old brother, to go to another room. He asked to check our identity cards and our mobile phones. He took my identity card and my phone and then took me outside after giving my father a document with details about my arrest. They made my father sign the document.
Once outside the soldiers tied my hands to the front with one plastic tie which was not painful. The soldiers led me up a nearby hill for about a kilometer. About half-way along the hill one of the soldiers blindfolded me. I was taken to a nearby military base where I was left in an outdoor area. A military commander came by and talked to me without informing me of my rights. He accused me of throwing stones and told me such acts were wrong. He also accused me of contacting someone in Gaza.
Later I was taken to Huwwara military base, near Nablus. On the way a soldier kicked me in my back and head. Along the way we stopped someplace where I was given a quick medical examination. When we arrived at Huwwara I was strip searched before being taken to a cell with one other boy.
I was left in the cell for about two hours before being taken to another room which had CCTV cameras. I was left in this cell by myself until around 5:00 p.m. the following day. I was given some food and drink and a guard removed the tie and the blindfold.
The next day I was taken to Petah Tikva interrogation centre, inside Israel. I was strip searched before being taken to a cell where I waited for about 30 minutes before being interrogated.
The interrogator was a woman. She was in civilian clothes. She handed me a document written in both Arabic and Hebrew about my rights. It said I had the right to speak to a lawyer and that I could not answer her questions but that might raise a suspicion against me. It also said I had the right to remain silent. She asked me whether I wanted to speak to a lawyer and I told her there was no need.
First, she asked me how I was. She wanted information about two people from my village whom she named. She was calm and urged me to tell her what I had done because she did not want to keep me there for too long. She questioned me for about an hour and towards the end she started to shout at me. She accused me of throwing stones. I denied the accusation and banged the table in protest. At that point two guards came and took me to a cell. I was not asked to sign any documents.
The following morning, I was taken for another interrogation by a different interrogator. This one gave me the rights documents and handed me the phone to speak to a person who asked me questions about my health.
Then the interrogator accused me of the same accusations. He started calm but then got aggressive as time went by and I refused to confess. He threatened to lock me up in prison for a long time if I did not confess. He told me this would be bad for me and my parents who would worry about my future. He told me if I confessed any issues would be resolved quickly. He questioned me for about six hours and I continued to deny the accusations. I was not given anything to sign.
After the second interrogation I was taken back to the cell where I was left in solitary confinement for 13 days. The cell was small, measuring about 2x2 meters and did not have any windows. The light was left on 24 hours and at around 9:00 p.m. they dimmed it. At the beginning I found it hard to fall asleep but then I got used to the situation.
On my sixth day in solitary confinement I was taken to the informants’ cell. I was tricked by them and gave some information I should not have. I spent two days there and then I was transferred back to the cell.
The following day I was taken for another interrogation. The interrogator confronted me with the information I had given the informants and I felt I had to confess to throwing stones. I did not speak to a lawyer and I was not informed of my rights. After I had confessed the interrogator asked me to sign a document written in Arabic with details about my confession. I signed the document.
After my third interrogation I was taken to Megiddo prison, also inside Israel, where I was strip searched before being taken to the minors’ section.
My first military court hearing was four days following my arrest. I was at Petah Tikva. I was taken to Salem military court. My presents were not informed so they did not attend and and my detention was extended.
In all I attended about 10 military court hearings. At the last one, which was in July 2022, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to six months in prison and fined NIS 3,000. I was also given another six months suspended for three years. I accepted the plea bargain because there was no other choice for me; I was told the alternative would be much worse.
I spent the rest of my sentence at Megiddo prison. My parents visited me twice and I was allowed to call home twice a month from a telephone provided by the prison authorities. In prison I cooked food for the other prisoners which I liked. I exercised and attended classes in Arabic, Hebrew and Mathematics.
I was released at Salem checkpoint on 22 September 2022. I was given early release and my parents did not know I was going to be released on that day so they were not there to take me home. I took a taxi then called home and my father met me half way. I arrived home at around 10:00 p.m. I now help my father at work, he distributes organic dairy products to local shops.