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Testimony: J.M.M.A.


Name: J.M.M.A.
Age: 16
Date: 8 December 2020
Location: Beit Ummar, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones

On 8 December 2020, a 16-year-old minor from Beit Ummar was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 2:30 a.m. He reports being interrogated multiple times without always being informed of his legal rights prior to each interrogation.  

My mother woke me up at around 2:30 a.m. and told me Israeli soldiers were in our neighbourhood. A moment later I heard loud banging at our neighbour’s house. The soldiers went to the neighbour’s house and made him show them the way to our house. Our neighbour knocked at our door and called us. I went downstairs and opened the door. The soldiers asked me for my name and then told me I was under arrest. 
Then, without entering our house, the commander asked my father to sign a document with details about my arrest. Then a soldier tied my hands to the front with two plastic ties: one on each wrist and the two ties were connected together. The ties were tight and painful. Then they walked me for a short distance before blindfolding me. I was then put in the back of a military jeep and made me sit on the metal floor. A soldier pushed me aggressively into the jeep and another struck me on the back with his gun.
The jeep drove to the police station in Etzion settlement where we arrived at around 4:00 a.m. I was thrown on the ground outside for about one-and-a-half hours before being taken for a quick medical examination. The doctor removed the blindfold and I snapped the ties open because they were very tight and I was in pain. After the examination the doctor tied me again but this time the ties were not as tight. Then the soldiers walked me inside the police compound for about two hours. At around 7:00 a.m. I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator removed the blindfold. When I asked him to remove the ties he told me he would remove them later. Then he wanted to know what I did in my life. I told him I worked at a butcher shop which my father owns. I also told him I sometimes go with my friends to the club. He asked me whether I lifted weights at the club and I told him I did.
Then he phoned a lawyer for me. He held the phone close to my ear and put it on speaker phone. The lawyer told me I had the right to remain silent and advised me not to speak. He also told me the interrogator had no right to beat me. The conversation lasted for about a minute and the interrogator heard everything. 
Then the interrogator told me he was going to treat me with respect if I treated him with respect. Then, without saying anything about my right to silence, he accused me of throwing stones at soldiers during the protest to commemorate the death of Yasser Arafat. I denied the accusation and told him I only ever threw stones once in my life years ago. Then he started to shout at me and showed me some photographs of clashes with soldiers and accused me of taking part. I denied the accusation. Then he told me my friends had confessed against me. I continued to deny the accusation.
He kept repeating the same accusation over and over again until I was very bored. He talked to me in a loud aggressive voice. At the end I was so bored that I confessed to throwing stones; I just wanted to get done with it. He questioned me for about two hours and did not ask me to sign any documents. 
Then I was taken to see another interrogator. This one did not call a lawyer for me and did not inform me of my right to silence. He told me my friend had confessed against me and told me to confess. He told me my friend told him everything there was to say about me. I told him I had nothing to confess to. He was aggressive and raised his voice at me and kept telling to confess.  He swore at me and called my mother and sister "whores". He wanted me to confess to more serious accusations but I did not. 
Then I was taken to see a third interrogator. This one was calm, I think because he had a camera and a voice recorder in the room.  This one did not inform me of my rights and questioned me for about 15 minutes. He was reading form a document which was given to him by the first interrogator. At the end he asked me to sign a document written in Hebrew but I refused to sign. Then he showed me an Arabic version but I did not manage to read it because he took it away before I finished reading it. I did not sign.
Then I was left outside by the gate for about one-and-a-half hours before being driven to Huwwara military base. I was strip searched before being taken to a cell together with a friend of mine from the village. The cell was very small and had one window but it was shut the whole time. I could see daylight but there was no breeze. 
I was left there for 16 days. At the end of the 16 days my friend and I were sick and tired of each other and had nothing more to say. The time went by very slowly. I found it hard to sleep because the bed was made out of metal and there was no mattress on it, just a blanket. During this time, I had three military court hearings via video link and my mother attended all three of them. 
Later I was taken to the quarantine section at Megiddo prison, inside Israel. I was strip searched and left there for eight days. Then the prison authorities suspected I was sick with Covid-19 because one of the detainees in the same section tested positive. I was transferred to a detention centre up north by the Lebanese border. I had three Corona tests over the course of eight days and all three were negative. Then I was transferred back to the quarantine section at Megiddo where I spent another five days.
I had six military court hearings and at the last one, which was on 13 January 2021, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to two months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I also received an eight-month suspended sentence suspended for three years. My parents refused to pay the fine and so the military judge made them sign an undated check for NIS 2,000 as a bond. My father accepted the plea bargain and told me to accept it too. I spent the last two weeks of my sentence at the juvenile section at Megiddo.
I was released at Al Jalama checkpoint on 25 January 2021, and I went home with my family. We arrived home at around 10:00 p.m. I did not have any family visits in prison and I found it very boring.