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Testimont - M.B.

Name: M.B.
Age: 15 years
Date of incident: 10 April 2013
Location: Aida refugee camp, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones
On 10 April 2013, a 15-year-old boy from the Aida refugee camp, in Bethlehem, is arrested by Israeli soldiers during clashes at the entrance to the camp.
On 10 April, 15-year-old M.B. was near the entrance to Aida refugee camp, in Bethlehem, when clashes erupted between Israeli soldiers and young men from the camp. The young men were throwing stones at soldiers who had entered the camp. During the clashes M.B. tried to run away but was kicked by a soldier and fell over, injuring his elbow.
“The soldiers made me sit on the ground in a nearby field while they talked to each other in Hebrew. A soldier tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie. It was a bit tight and slightly painful. Another soldier was verbally abusive calling me a son of a whore and cursing god. They made me sit on the side walk and forced my head down. They did not allow me to lift my head up. I sat there for nearly three hours. I heard the voices of my mother and my cousins who were pleading with the soldiers to let me go but they later told me that the soldiers denied having detained me. The soldiers then cut off the plastic tie and asked me to sign a paper in Hebrew. When I asked about the paper I was told it said that the soldiers had not hurt me during arrest. I first refused to sign the paper but then I did.”
“I was then taken to a military jeep and made to sit on a bench inside. They made me sit on my hands and didn’t allow me to move. There were three soldiers in the jeep in addition to the driver. I asked the soldier when I was going to be released and he told me: ”later, later”. Instead of releasing me they took me to a police station in Atarot. I knew because I read the sign when we arrived.”
“I waited for about three hours before I was interrogated. My mother was allowed into the interrogation but she wasn’t allowed to say anything. The interrogator screamed at her when she attempted to say something The interrogator began by showing me something on his computer screen which said that if I remained silent and didn’t say anything it neither meant that I agreed or disagreed with him. It was written in poor Arabic. He asked me through an interpreter why I had been in the area where I was arrested. I told him I was there to see what was going on. He then asked me why I tried to run away when the soldiers chased me and I told him I ran away because I was scared. He asked me whether I had been throwing stones and I said no. He told me I was a liar. He told me a Molotov cocktail was thrown just when I attempted to run away from the scene. I think he wanted to frighten me with a serious allegation so that I would confess to throwing stones, but I didn’t confess to anything. He asked me to sign a document written in Hebrew but I refused and asked him to show me something in Arabic. He then showed me something on his computer screen that was in Arabic. The language wasn’t clear and I didn’t understand what it said. Still, I signed the paper which was written in Hebrew. As far as I could tell the interrogator didn’t have a tape recorder or a video camera during the interrogation.”
“I was then taken to Ofer prison, near Ramallah, where I waited outside for a while. I asked for some water and they gave me hot water. Then I was taken for a security check. I took off my clothes but kept my underwear on. The soldier told me to take off all my clothes including the underwear. I refused. He threatened to ask the prison guard to come and take off my underwear. I was scared and took off my underwear myself. They made me go through a metal detector. After the security check I was taken to a prison cell with boys my age. There were about 110 other boys in prison. We were 11 boys in the cell I was in but there were only 10 beds, so one of the boys slept on the floor. The following day I was taken to Ofer military court.”
“It was a Friday and the court wasn’t fully operating. We were there with the judge, the interrogator and the interpreter. I later found out that my parents wanted to be at court but they didn’t let them in. The guards told them there were no courts on Fridays. In court the judge told me I was a threat to the State of Israel and that I had denied all accusations. The session was adjourned. On Sunday I had another hearing but it was adjourned again because there was no lawyer to represent me. The following day I was taken to court again. I wasn’t paying attention to what the interpreter was saying because I was talking to my mother across the room. My mother nearly cried when she saw me and the guard didn’t allow her to get near me. I was shackled and my ankles hurt.”
In all I think I had about seven court hearings. My parents appointed a private lawyer for me because they were not happy with the two other lawyers. My lawyer agreed on a plea bargain and on the seventh hearing I was sentenced to three months in jail although I hadn’t confessed to anything. My sentence was further reduced after my family agreed to pay 2,500 shekels (about $700). I was also given a suspended sentence of two years for the next four years and I am banned from going near the entrance to the camp where I was arrested. I was released on 28 April. For some reason the soldiers released me at a checkpoint near Nablus, far from my home, but my parents were waiting for me at Ofer. I took a taxi from the checkpoint and arrived home at 10:00 p.m. My mother had cooked a nice meal for me and my friends hung flags around the house. I was very happy to be home.”