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Testimony: S.W.

Name: S. W.
Age: 15 years
Date of incident: 6 August 2013
Location: Al 'Arrub refugee camp, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones
On 6 August 2013, a 15-year-old boy from the Al 'Arrub refugee camp, near Bethlehem, is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 1:00 a.m. and accused of throwing stones.
On 6 August 2013, I was walking home with my brother from the Al 'Arrub youth club. It was 1:00 a.m. Many people were still up and about because it was Ramadan and people stay up late. The minute we arrived home around 15 Israeli soldiers surrounded the house. The soldiers told us to go inside and shut the door. I went upstairs and was changing my clothes when my father came in to tell me the soldiers had entered the house and were downstairs.”
“My father, my brother and myself went to the living room where the soldiers were. The commander asked to see my father’s identity card and then he pointed at me and asked who I was. At that moment I realised they had come for me. The commander told me to accompany him. He didn’t have anything in writing to show me and didn’t tell us why he wanted me to go with him. My mother came and told the soldiers she wanted me to put some warm clothes on. I managed to put my jacket and my shoes on just before the soldiers took me outside where they tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie and blindfolded me. Then soldiers made me run quickly to the entrance of the camp because young men were throwing stones at them. When we arrived at the entrance they removed the plastic tie and replaced it with three plastic ties, one on each wrist and one connecting the two. This time my hands were tied to the front. They made me kneel on the rough ground and my knees hurt. They made me wait until a military vehicle arrived. They didn’t beat me or verbally abuse me. They made me sit on the floor of the vehicle and drove me to Etzion settlement. We arrived there 10 minutes later.”
“On arrival at Etzion I was taken to see a doctor who removed the blindfold and untied my hands. He took my temperature, my blood pressure and asked me if I suffered from any illnesses. He recorded my answers on a sheet of paper. Then I was taken to a room where I waited for about one hour before I was taken to see an interrogator. While waiting, I wasn’t tied or blindfolded. I was blindfolded and tied when I was taken for interrogation. We had to walk for about half-an-hour to the interrogation room. Somebody led me there because I could not see.”
“The interrogator untied my hands, removed the blindfold and introduced himself as Yona. He asked me if I wanted a drink of water. It was around 5:00 a.m. He did not tell me I had the right to silence and did not ask me if I wanted to speak to a lawyer. I was in the room by myself; my parents were not there. The interrogator had a tape recorder and he was typing on his computer. He told me there were confessions against me that I had thrown stones and gave me specific dates. I denied the accusation and asked him to name the people who confessed against me. He told me it wasn’t my business to know the names. He kept repeating the accusation and each time I denied it he got angry and accused me of lying. He told me I was a dog and banged the table angrily. He told me he was in possession of confessions that I threw stones on 11 November 2012 and on 4 and 5 April and 15 May 2013. He told me I had to confess but I didn’t.”
“The interrogation lasted for about six hours and I got very tired. In the end I confessed to throwing three stones at a military vehicle but the stones didn’t hit the target. I confessed because I felt the interrogator wasn’t going to leave me alone until I confessed. The interrogator then printed out a document written in Hebrew and asked me to sign it. I first refused to sign and told him I didn’t understand Hebrew but he insisted that I sign it and I did. After I signed the paper the interrogator called my father and asked him to appoint a lawyer for me and asked him to come to Etzion.”
“After the interrogation my photo was taken and I was fingerprinted. Then I was taken to a prison cell where I waited by myself. A soldier told me to strip down to my underwear and I was searched. By now  it was around noon. Then another boy aged 16 was brought in and a short while later we were both taken to Ofer prison, near Ramallah. We were hand cuffed with metal chains. On arrival at Ofer I waited for about two hours before I was taken for a security check. I was searched with a metal detector and was given a prison uniform. I was then taken to Section 13 where I stayed with other prisoners my age. It was around 5:00 p.m. The other prisoners gave me some food and I went to bed.”
“I spent two nights in Ofer prison before I was taken to a military court. My mother and brother were at court but I wasn’t allowed to speak to them. I was very happy to see them. The judge later allowed my mother to come closer and allowed her to speak to me. She wanted to know if I was eating well. In court I saw a lawyer for the first time following my arrest. The hearing was adjourned for a week because my papers hadn’t arrived. I think I attended around seven hearings. My family attended all the hearings. My mother, my sister and my brother alternated. I am the youngest in the family and they were all worried about me. On the last hearing I was sentenced to three months in jail and fined 2,000 shekels. I was also given a suspended sentence of six months for three years. At the beginning of the last hearing the prosecutor requested six months in jail because he claimed there was secret evidence against me that I had thrown an empty bottle and a stone at Qalandia checkpoint on 15 May 2013. My lawyer lost his temper and objected. I was shocked because I have never been to Qalandia. This accusation was a fabrication. That is when my lawyer struck the plea bargain. By this time I had already spent two months in jail.”
“I was released on 29 October 2013. My family was not notified about the exact date of my release. I took a taxi home and I borrowed the driver’s mobile phone to inform my parents and to tell them to prepare some money to pay the driver. I arrived home at around 8:30 p.m. and my parents were very happy to see me. My parents were not given permits to visit me in jail during the last month. It was very hard for me not to see them. I am in 10th grade and I missed two months of school. I also missed my brother’s wedding. In jail they allowed us to study only Hebrew. It was a difficult experience. Now when I know soldiers are in the camp I stay home and don’t leave the house.”