Testimony - A.N.
|Location:||Al 'Arrub refugee camp, West Bank|
|Date:||7 April 2013|
On 7 April 2013, a 15-year-old boy from the Al 'Arrub refugee camp, near Bethlehem, is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 3:00 a.m. and accused of throwing stones.
“I was asleep when my brother woke me up and told me soldiers had come to arrest me. It was 3:00 a.m. I was scared and jumped out of bed. My father wasn’t at home that night. I went to the door and saw lots of soldiers, maybe 20, some were masked and looked very scary,” recalls A.N., who was asked for his name by one of the soldiers. “The soldier talked to the commander and then told me they wanted to take me with them. I begged him not to take me because I had an exam in the morning. He told me that if all went well I would be back home the following day. My mother told them I was too young and they wouldn’t want this to happen to their children, but they didn’t listen to her. They didn’t say why they were taking me or where.” A.N. recalls that the soldiers were accompanied by a camera crew from an Israeli television station.
A.N.’s hands were tied from the front using three hand ties and he was blindfolded. He was then led away to a waiting military vehicle, put inside and the doors were shut. “As soon as the camera crew was out of sight a soldier started to shout and yell at me. He swore and said bad things about my mother and sister which I am too embarrassed to repeat. He pinched my cheek, pressed his elbow against my shoulder and pushed me on the floor of the jeep,” recalls A.N.
A.N. was taken to the nearby settlement of Gush Etzion. He was taken to a room and asked some questions about his health by a female doctor. He was not physically examined and remained tied in the presence of the doctor. After about 10 minutes he was led outside and made to sit on the ground, still tied and blindfolded. Sometime later he was led into a room. “Someone said to me in Arabic: 'Do you throw stones?’ I was still blindfolded and I didn’t know who was talking to me so I asked the person to identify himself. The person replied: 'It’s none of your business.’ I told him I wasn’t going to answer any questions until the blindfold was removed. I was then made to kneel. Someone lifted the blindfold and I saw a big policeman standing by my side. I saw another person sitting behind a small desk. There was a chair in the room but they didn’t make me sit on it. The person behind the desk asked me: 'Do you throw stones?’ When I told him I didn’t throw stones he got up and slapped me across the face. I tasted blood in my mouth and I was terrified.” The policeman and the interrogator then left the room for a short time. “When they returned the policeman kicked me while I was kneeling. I lost my balance and fell over. The policeman asked me: 'Who else was with you when you were throwing stones?’ I said: 'I already told you I didn’t throw stones.’ The interrogator then kicked me from behind and knocked me over. My shoulder hit the metal chair and I felt sever pain. I was bleeding. At this point I confessed to throwing two stones,” says A.N.
A.N. was then re-blindfolded and taken outside. He was then left in the sun until early afternoon. Sometime later A.N. was taken inside and put in a room with mattresses. He was also brought some food which he found unappetising and did not eat. “I then slept until 1:00 a.m. when a soldier opened the door and told me they were taking me to Ofer prison near Ramallah.” On arrival at Ofer A.N. managed to get a few hours sleep. “At 6:00 a.m. I was woken and told I was going to court. I was taken to a waiting room outside Ofer military court. At around 4:00 p.m. I was taken into the court room. When I saw my mother in the court room I couldn’t hold myself and burst into tears. She cried too. At court I met a lawyer. This was the first time I had seen a lawyer. Nobody told me anything about my rights. My parents later appointed another lawyer for me,” says A.N. “I don’t know exactly what happened in court but the judge adjourned the case for two days. I think the court was adjourned five more times. A new lawyer told me after three or four sessions that the prosecutor wanted to give me six months in jail for throwing stones.”
“On 23 April the judge ordered my release and a payment of NIS 4,000 ($1,100). I was released to house arrest and only allowed out to go to court. I haven’t been going to school since my release. I don’t like spending time at home doing nothing. I miss school. My parents have asked private teachers to give me lessons but it is not the same as going to school. This situation might go on for a long time,” says A.N.