Testimony - H.S.
|Date of incident:
||14 March 2013
||Haris, West Bank
A 14-year-old boy from the village of Haris, near Ari’el settlement in the West Bank, is arrested by Israeli soldiers, painfully tied and blindfolded. He is transferred to Megiddo prison inside Israel, in violation of article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Fourteen-year-old H.S. lives in Haris village, close to Ari’el settlement and a highway used by Israeli soldiers and settlers. “At around noon on Thursday, 14 March, I was with two of my cousins picking peas for my mother in a field close to my house,” says H.S. “Two army jeeps drove by and a soldier asked us what we were doing. They didn’t believe we were picking peas and told us to stand by the side of the road. I was scared.” H.S. was then tied with a single plastic hand-tie and blindfolded. Hadi’s older brother was also detained by the soldiers. The boys were then placed in the back of military vehicles and driven off.
H.S. and the other boys were taken to a military base near the town of Qalqiliya, in the West Bank. On arrival he was placed in a room by himself and his feet were also tied. “At around 1:00 a.m. a soldier came and brought me some food. He took off the blindfold and cut the hand tie but kept my legs tied. When I finished eating he blind folded me and tied my hands again with one plastic tie but this time it was tighter. It cut into my wrists and was very painful.” The boys were then driven to Ari’el settlement. “On the way the soldiers swore at us,” recalls H.S. On arrival at Ari’el the boys were fingerprinted and photographed.
Within an hour the boys were driven to Huwwara interrogation centre, near the West Bank city of Nablus. They arrived at the centre at about 3:00 a.m. They were untied and placed in a cell together. “There were two bunk beds in the room which had no windows. During the night soldiers kept banging at the door to wake us up,” says H.S. Later that morning Hadi was handcuffed and shackled and taken to Megiddo prison, inside Israel. On arrival at Megiddo the boys were strip searched and asked some questions about their health. “I told the doctor my ankles and wrists hurt because of the tight ties, but he said never mind because this was irrelevant, he just wanted to know if I suffered from any illnesses. The check lasted about 15 minutes. After the medical questions they put the hand cuffs and shackles on again and made us walk for a long distance. I couldn’t walk properly because of the shackles.”
On Sunday morning, 17 March, H.S. was driven to Salem interrogation centre, near the West Bank town of Jenin, for interrogation. Hadi was not given the opportunity to consult with a lawyer before being questioned and does not recall being informed of any rights. “The interrogator asked me 'why do you throw stones?’ When I told him I didn’t throw stones he started to shout at me. I was then taken back to a small cell and the air conditioner was turned on and the room was very cold, even though it was a cold day.”
Later that day, H.S. was taken a short distance to Salem military court where he saw his lawyer for the first time. The proceedings were adjourned until Wednesday, 20 March. Hadi was then taken back to Megiddo prison, inside Israel. On 20 March, Hadi was brought back to Salem military court and released on bail of NIS 1,000. He is due back in court on 30 July. “When we got home I was happy to see my uncles and grandparents waiting for me, but I cried when I saw my mother. I also missed my school exams,” says H.S.