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Testimony - A.T.


 Name:  A.T.
 Age:  16 years
 Date of incident:  29 July 2013
 Location:  Al 'Arrub, West Bank
 Accusation:  Throwing stones

On 29 July 2013, a 16-year-old boy from the Al 'Arrub refugee camp in the West Bank is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 1:00 a.m. and accused of throwing stones.

It was during Ramadan and I was still awake at 1:00 a.m. My brother told me there were Israeli soldiers in our neighbourhood. I went to have a look and saw about 10 masked soldiers already at our house. One of them asked to see my ID card and when he read my name he told the other soldiers to arrest me. They didn’t tell me why they were arresting me and they didn’t have any written documents to show. Almost immediately, one of the soldiers grabbed me by the neck and dragged me to the front door where they tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie which was very tight and painful. They also blindfolded me. They walked me to another house in the camp where they arrested somebody else and then they put me in a troop carrier and took me to Etzion settlement. I sat on a seat inside the vehicle.”
“At around 4:00 a.m. I was taken for interrogation. First the interrogator asked me if I wanted to be treated like a human or an animal. Then he asked me if I threw stones. I told him I didn’t. He didn’t tell me about my right to silence and didn’t ask me if I wanted to speak to a lawyer. As far as I know there was no camera or a recorder in the room. He kept repeating the same question but I continued to deny the accusation. Then he brought another boy from the camp into the interrogation room and claimed that this boy had confessed against me. The boy told him this wasn’t true and that he never confessed against me. The interrogator got very angry and shouted at the boy who then told the interrogator that he had indeed confessed against me. The boy was 16-years-old and was brought in about half-way through the interrogation. In the end I confessed to throwing stones but I didn’t sign any documents. When the interrogation was over the interrogator spoke to a lawyer and told him about me.”
“I was then taken to see a policeman who had a tape recorder and a camera. He brought in the boy who testified against me and made him testify again. Then they took my fingerprints and my photo and took me to a prison cell in Etzion. There they made me take off all my clothes, including my underwear for a security check. On the way to the cell, soldiers were talking in Hebrew and laughing loudly. One of them slapped me on the neck. In Etzion I wasn’t given any food or drink. The following day I was taken to Ofer prison where they gave me another security check and made me take off all my clothes including my underwear. I arrived at Ofer at around 4:00 p.m. I was given prison clothes and taken to Section 13 where I stayed with other children. The prisoners gave me some food after one-and-a-half days without anything to eat or drink.”
“A week later I was taken to Ofer military court. In court I saw my lawyer for the first time. My parents were not there because they were not informed. The hearing was adjourned. The following day I had another hearing which was adjourned again because they claimed another person had testified against me and that I was going to be interrogated again, this time by the Shin Bet.”
“The following day I was taken to the settlement of Kiryat Arba, near Hebron. The interrogator, who had a tape recorder in front of him, did not tell me about my rights. He named a person and told me that person had testified that I had been throwing stones on 5 April 2013. I told him this wasn’t true and that I was at work that day. He got very angry and started to shout and swear at me. During the interrogation he asked me if I had a lawyer. The interrogation lasted for about an hour but I did not confess to anything. I was not beaten but the interrogator kept swearing. After an hour I was taken to another room where I waited for about 30 minutes. Then I was taken back for interrogation again. This time the interrogator showed me some photos on his mobile phone and asked if I was in any of the photos. I told him I wasn’t. Then I was taken back to Ofer prison.”
“Two days later I had another court hearing where I was given a charge sheet. The judge told me there were two statements by me: In one I had given a confession but in the other one there was no confession. I think I had about 20 court hearings. My family attended most of them. In the end my lawyer agreed to a plea bargain where I would be sentenced to six months in prison and fined NIS 1,000. I was released a couple of weeks early for good conduct. I was released from prison on 8 January 2014. My parents were waiting for me and I went home with them. We arrived home at around 11:15pm. I spent my entire prison sentence in Ofer. In prison I was allowed to study Arabic and Hebrew.”