Testimony - Z.Q.
|Date of incident:
||2 July 2013
||Al 'Arrub refugee camp, West Bank
||Throwing stones/Molotov cocktails
On 2 July 2013, a 15-year-old boy from the Al 'Arrub refugee camp, near Bethlehem, is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 2:30 a.m. and accused of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.
“It was around 2:30 a.m. when I heard the sound of somebody trying to break into our house. My father went downstairs to see who it was. Soon Israeli soldiers were inside our house; they did not say what they wanted. I saw them when they came upstairs; they wore masks and were heavily armed. They asked my father for our names and when my father mentioned my name three soldiers grabbed me by my pyjama top and asked me to turn around and raise my hands. Then they painfully tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie and blindfolded me. The tie was so tight that I still have marks on my wrists nearly four months on.”
“My mother started to shout and cry. The soldiers didn’t have anything in writing and didn’t tell us why they were taking me. I was dragged downstairs and I banged my head against the front door because I was blindfolded and the soldiers were careless. I was in shock and pain. The impact of the bang was so hard I bled. Soldiers walked me to the entrance of the refugee camp and pushed me into a military jeep.”
“About five or 10 minutes later we arrived in Etzion settlement. It must have been around 3:00 or 3:30 a.m. I waited outside for about an hour before an interrogator came and started questioning me while outside. He removed the blindfold, asked me for my name and asked me if I threw stones or Molotov cocktails. I told him I didn’t throw stones or Molotov cocktails. Then he put the blindfold back on and dragged me to the interrogation room. On the way he pushed me against a parked car and a wall which caused me pain. Inside the interrogation room he removed the blindfold but kept me tied.”
“The interrogator did not introduce himself. He did not inform me that I had any rights and I did not see a lawyer. I was not accompanied by a parent when I was questioned and as far as I could tell, the interrogation was not recorded. The interrogator again asked me if I threw stones or Molotov cocktails and again I denied it. Throughout the interrogation he kept putting on and taking off the blindfold and repeating the same questions. Each time I denied the accusation the interrogator tightened the blindfold until it was very painful. I had an eye injury from school and the tight blindfold caused me pain. The interrogator wanted me to confess to throwing Molotov cocktails and kept saying there were witnesses who saw me. He told me soldiers saw me and also named some adults whom he claimed also saw me. Again I denied the accusation and told him I didn’t know the people he named.”
“The interrogation lasted from around 6:00 a.m. until around 5:00 p.m – approximately 11 hours. The interrogator mentioned dates when he claimed I was throwing stones. He offered me food but I said no. He allowed me to use the bathroom and grabbed my shoulder, took me to the bathroom and told me I had five minutes to think. About five minutes later he came back and asked me if I had anything to say. I said no. Then he took me back to the interrogation room and asked me whether I wanted to be treated like an animal or a human being. At one point another interrogator entered the room. He was wearing civilian clothes. He punched me in my stomach, slapped me on the face and told me I had to confess. He swore at me and called my mother a whore. He kept removing the blindfold and putting it back on. I did not confess. I was punched and slapped many times and felt very tired. After the interrogation was over, a policeman took me to another room and asked me to sign a document written in Hebrew. The document had some blank spaces on it. I was worried that the blank spaces would be filled in later. I told the interrogator I wasn’t going to sign anything without a lawyer present.”
“After the interrogation I was kept in a room until around 1:30 a.m. I was then handcuffed and shackled and taken to a vehicle and taken to Ofer prison, near Ramallah. On arrival at Ofer I was strip searched. They made me take off all my clothes, even my underwear. They made me crouch and stand up naked three or four times. Then I was taken to the section where other children my age were held. The children made me some food. It was about 4:00 or 4:30 a.m. I tried to sleep but I couldn’t. My eye was sore and red.”
“The following day I was taken to Ofer military court. It was in court that I saw a lawyer for the first time. My father was in court too. The lawyer asked me what I was accused of, how many interrogators had interrogated me and who had confessed against me. The hearing was adjourned until the 8 July. On 8 July my lawyer reassured me and told me I was going to be ok because I didn’t confess to anything and because I was a minor. I think I attended about seven court hearings during which time I remained in detention. On 2 October, I was sentenced based on confessions by adults who were interrogated in Askalan prison which is known for its harsh conditions. I didn’t pay attention to what the judge said because I was talking to my father who was in court. I spent nearly four months in jail and my parents had to pay a fine of 2,500 shekels. I was released on 27 October 2013 with a suspended sentence of nine months for four years. My parents were not given a permit to visit me in jail. I only saw my parents in court.”