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Testimony: Y.J.A.H.


Name: Y.J.A.H.
Age: 14
Date: 1 September 2021
Location: Bethlehem, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones
On 1 September 2021, a 14-year-old minor from Bethlehem was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 3:30 a.m. and accused of throwing stones. He reports ill treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under israeli military law. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. He also received a suspended sentence. 
I heard loud banging at our front door at around 3:30 a.m. I looked out the window and saw Israeli soldiers surrounding our home. My mother opened the door and about 10 soldiers came into our house. One of the soldiers asked for me and then made me stand facing the wall. Whenever I turned my face the soldier yelled at me. Then a soldier told my mother I was under arrest. Then he gave her a document filled out on Hebrew and asked her to sign it which my mother did. 
Then they took me outside where a soldier blindfolded me and tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie which was tight and painful. I asked the soldier to loosen it but he refused. Then they took me to the back of a military jeep where I sat on the metal floor between the soldiers’ legs. Inside the jeep soldiers swore at me. They also slapped and kicked me.
The jeep drove a short distance and then I was transferred into a police car where I sat on a seat. A policeman inside a jeep asked me what I had done and I told him nothing. He accused me of lying. He questioned me without informing me of any rights. Then I was taken to Atarot police station, in East Jerusalem, where I was left in an outdoor cage. At around noon I was shackled before being taken for interrogation.
The interrogator wore civilian clothes and had a camera in the room. He asked me for my age and then wanted to know who else was with me. Then he phoned a lawyer and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer asked me whether it was my first arrest. Then he asked me how many jeeps had come to arrest me. Then he told me not to say anything. The conversation lasted for about a minute and the interrogator was listening on speaker phone. Then the interrogator told me to go out and brought in my friend. About two hours later he brought me in again.
Then, without informing me of my right to silence, He showed me video footage of clashes with soldiers and accused me of taking part. I denied the accusation. Then the interrogator told me if I continued to deny the accusation he was going to interrogate me again and again a thousand times. He also threatened to lock me up in solitary confinement. Then he told me if I confessed he would send me home, if I did not he was going to keep me there.
Then he told me my friends had confessed against me and wanted to know when and where I was throwing stones. I continued to deny the accusation. Then he named some boys and asked me about them. He questioned me over a period of about two hours. At the end he asked me to sign a document written in Hebrew and I refused to sign and he signed instead.
Then I was taken outside where I was left for about two hours. Then I was taken to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem, where I was strip searched and asked to crouch up and down. After being searched I was taken into the quarantine section where I spent 13 days with two other boys. A week later I was taken to Atarot police station for another interrogation.
It was a different interrogator this time. He did not call a lawyer for me and did not inform me of my right to silence. He wanted me to sign a document confessing to throwing stones but I refused to sign. He claimed he had a voice recording proving I had thrown a Molotov cocktail and stones at soldiers. I denied the accusation.
This interrogator was calm and questioned me for about an hour. At the end he asked me to sign documents written in Hebrew but I refused to sign.
My first military court hearing was two days after my arrest. It was on zoom and my parents were not informed and they did not attend. I had about nine court hearings. About two months before I was released I was sentenced in a plea bargain to six months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I was also given another 18 months in prison suspended for five years. I accepted the plea bargain because otherwise I was told I would spend more time in prison.  
After spending 13 days at the quarantine section I was transferred to the minors’ section at Ofer where I spent the rest of my term. In prison I walked and chatted to the other detainees and I played with them. I also attended classes in Arabic, Hebrew and Mathematics which was useful. My parents visited me three times and I was able to call them from a phone provided by the prison authorities once every two weeks. 
I was released at Ofer on 8 February 2022, and I went home with my brother and my friends. We arrived home at around 10:00 p.m.