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Testimony: H.A.M.C.


Name: H.A.M.C.
Age: 16
Date:  25 April 2021
Location: Bethlehem, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing pipe bombs / stones
On 25 April 2021, a 16-year-old minor from Bethlehem was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 11:30 p.m. during clashes at Rachel's Tomb. He reports spending 20 days in solitary confinement in Al Mascobiyeh interrogation centre, Jerusalem.
There were clashes with Israeli soldiers at Rachel’s Tomb when about 20 soldiers surrounded me. It was around 11:30 p.m. They slapped and kicked me and one of the soldiers punched me hard in my left eye. I was in severe pain and blood came out of my eye. The soldiers also swore at me, calling my mother a "whore".
One of the soldiers then handcuffed my hands to the front with metal cuffs and tightened them hard. When I asked him to loosen them he swore at me and told me to shut up. He also shackled my feet and made me sit on the ground, facing the wall for about 40 minutes. I asked for some water to wash the blood off my face and a soldier said no. Then a female soldier poured water on my face.
After about 40 minutes I was taken to the back of a military jeep where I sat on a seat. The jeep drove to Atarot police station in East Jerusalem. I sat on a metal chair until the following morning. I was guarded by about 10 soldiers who swore at me all the time. At around 10:00 a.m. I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator did not remove the handcuffs or the shackles. He phoned a lawyer and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me not to be afraid and not to speak no matter what they do to me. The conversation lasted for less than a minute and the interrogator was listening to the conversation. 
Then, without informing me of my right to silence, the interrogator immediately started to yell and shout at me and accused me of throwing stones and pipe bombs at soldiers.  He told me he had video footage of me throwing stones. I denied the accusation and challenged him to show me the footage but he never did. He thumped the table aggressively and broke it.  He threatened to arrest my mother if I did not confess.
He questioned me for about 30 minutes and I continued to deny the accusation. I refused to answer his questions and told him I did not know anything and accused him of trying to make me confess to something I did not do. At the end he wanted me to sign a document written in Hebrew and Arabic. I read the document and then I signed. Then he allowed me to wash the blood off my face and I could not see clearly with my left eye and I was terrified.
After the first interrogation I was taken to Al Mascobiyeh police station in Jerusalem. I arrived there at around 9:00 p.m. They left me outside on a chair in the cold weather. They did not bring me food or drink for three days. I was feeling tired and drowsy and I could not think straight. I fell asleep on the chair for a short while but I was uncomfortable, tired and in pain. Then I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator was wearing a balaclava and questioned me with the balaclava on the whole time and I did not see his face. He tried to phone a lawyer but the lawyer refused to speak to me. Then, without informing me of my right to silence, the interrogator accused me of the same accusations.  I was handcuffed and shackled during the interrogation. He told me there were confessions against me and video footage. I denied the accusation and told him it was not me. 
Then two large men entered the room and started to yell at me urging me to confess. One of them poked me with a baton in my stomach and chest telling me to confess. I told him I could not think straight because I was beaten badly. This lasted for about an hour and I continued to deny the accusations. The interrogator swore to god he was going to kill me if I did not confess and said no one would ever find out, not even god, because he was not there. Then he slapped me and pushed me against the wall. 
Then I was taken into another room and another person told me he wanted to help me. He told me to tell him everything and he would help me. He brought me coffee and cigarettes and was very friendly. I did not confess and continued to deny the accusations. I was not asked to sign any documents. 
Later I was strip searched and taken to a small cell measuring not more than 1 x 1 meters. The cell did not have any windows and did not have any light. I spent 20 days in the dark cell by myself.  During this time, I had three more interrogations. I did not speak to a lawyer and I was not informed of my right to silence. 
Each interrogation session lasted for about an hour and I was not asked to sign any documents. They questioned me about the same accusations and I denied everything. The interrogators were calm but as soon as I denied the accusations they became angry and shouted at me urging me to confess. 
I had a tough time in the cell. It was dark all the time and I started to talk to myself. At one point I held my slippers up and talked to them and then I pretended they were a remote control and I started to imagine I was flipping TV channels. I found it very hard to sleep but I was so tired that I sometimes fell asleep on the floor without a mattress or a blanket or a pillow.  
Twenty days later I was taken to a cell with other detainees where I spent 10 days in quarantine. They gave me a Corona test and I tested negative. During this time, I had an argument with one of the guards because he refused to give me a cigarette. I threw an empty chocolate milk pack at him. About 20 guards came in and started to beat me up all over my body. They swore at me and punched me hard on my arm. My arm turned blue and I showed it to my father during one of the court hearings on zoom. Then they took me to another room where they tied my arms and legs in an awkward painful position while I laid down on a metal bed. I was left in that position for about three hours. I felt numb towards the end. 
Then I was taken to section 13 at Ofer prison where I was strip searched again.  My first court hearing was when I was still in solitary confinement at Al Mascobiyeh about a week after my arrest. It was conducted on zoom and my father attended. My detention was extended. 
I had about 15 court hearings and at the last one, which was three weeks before I was released, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to three months in prison with a further eight months suspended for three years. I did not have to pay any fines. I accepted the plea bargain because I wanted to go home three weeks later. 
I spent the rest of my prison sentence at Ofer where I exercised and lifted weights to keep fit. I did not have any family visits because of the Corona Virus regulations. I was allowed to phone home from a phone provided by the prison authorities twice a month. 
I was released from Ofer on 19 July 2021. My parents were not informed of my release and they were not there to meet me. I went with another family to Ramallah and then they gave me some money and I took a taxi home. I arrived home at around 9:30 p.m. 
This testimony was produced with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Military Court Watch.