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Testimony: J.M.Y.A.


Name: J.M.Y.A.
Age: 15
Date: 26 April 2017
Location: Deir Abu Mish'al, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones

On 26 April 2017, a 15-year-old youth is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 4:00 p.m. as he went to buy bread. During the arrest he reports being pushed off his bike and his leg was fractured. He reports that he was not informed of his legal rights during his first interrogation.

There were clashes with Israeli soldiers at the entrance to my village earlier in the day. When things calmed down I took my bike to buy bread from the bakery at around 4:00 p.m. On the way I was suddenly surprised by a group of about 20 soldiers who appeared from an olive grove. They immediately attacked me and pushed me off my bike without any reason. I tried to run away but a soldier hit me hard on my leg and fractured it. I was in severe pain. 
The soldiers then took me to the back of a jeep where I sat on a seat. Inside the jeep they blindfolded me and tied my hands to the front with one plastic tie which was very tight and painful. It left marks on my wrists for days.
The jeep drove towards the nearby military base where I was left on the ground in an outdoor area for about two hours. Then I was taken back to the jeep which drove to the police station in Binyamin settlement. We arrived at Binyamin at around 10:00 p.m. and I was immediately taken for interrogation.
The interrogator was in civilian clothes and had a tape recorder on the table and he turned it on. He removed the blindfold but kept me tied. He did not inform me of my rights and started by telling I was like a son to him. He then accused me of throwing stones at soldiers. I denied the accusation. Then he told me five soldiers had seen me throwing stones but I continued to deny the accusation.
Then the interrogator showed me photos on his mobile phone of young men throwing stones and wanted me to give him their names. He promised to send me home if I did. I told him I did not know the boys in the photos.
The interrogation lasted for about an hour. In the end he printed out my statement in Hebrew and asked me to sign it but I refused to sign. Then they took my photograph and my fingerprints and a DNA sample from my mouth.
After the interrogation I was examined by a doctor. I told the doctor about the pain in my leg but he did not do anything. When I told him I was beaten by a soldier he, and another soldier in the room, made fun of me.
After the medical exam I was taken to Ofer prison where I was searched in my underwear and then I was taken to Section 13. The other prisoners gave me some food and I went to bed.
A few days later a senior prisoner complained to the prison authorities about the pain in my leg. As a result I was taken to a clinic at Ramleh prison where I was examined. The X-ray showed I had a fracture in my shin bone. They put me in plaster and then sent me back to Ofer. While at the clinic, and during the examination, I was shackled and handcuffed and I felt very uncomfortable.
On 3 May 2017, I was taken to Ofer military court. My parents were in court but there was no lawyer because the lawyers were on strike. The hearing was adjourned.
The following day I was taken for another interrogation at Binyamin police station. The second interrogator wore a police uniform. Before he asked me any questions he gave me a document in Hebrew and Arabic which said I had the right to consult with a lawyer and the right to silence. I understood this to mean I had to remain silent and listen to the interrogator while he spoke and that I could only speak when he stopped. He asked me to sign this document and I did.
Then he called a lawyer and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me not to confess to anything I did not do. Then the interrogator told me I had to confess. I told him I did not do anything to confess about. Then he told me soldiers saw me throwing stones. I told him the soldiers were not telling the truth. He banged the table occasionally and started to speak in a loud voice in Hebrew when he became angry. I insisted that I was innocent and told him the soldiers were liars.
At the end of the interrogation the interrogator printed out my statement in Hebrew and asked me to sign it and I did because I was scared. The interrogation lasted for about 30 minutes and I was then taken back to Ofer prison.
In total I had about 20 military court hearings and three different lawyers who kept telling me I was going to be released. But the hearings kept being adjourned and I was not released. They also kept amending my charge sheet and each time I was able to prove something was wrong with the charge sheet they would amend it.
On the last hearing I was told there was secret evidence against me and the prosecutor was requesting 15 months imprisonment for me. I was shocked. My lawyer then negotiated a plea bargain with the prosecutor and I was sentenced to four months in prison and fined 5,000 shekels. I accepted the plea bargain although I was innocent because I wanted to get out of prison as soon as possible and in time for the new school year.
I was released on 3 September 2017 and I went home with my parents. In prison I studied Arabic and Mathematics and my family visited me twice. While I was in prison my mother gave birth to a baby boy and I was very happy to see him and hold him.