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Testimony: A.H.A.I.


Name: A.H.A.I.
Age: 16
Date: 1 September 2019
Location: Al' Arrub, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones/Molotovs

On 1 September 2019, a 16-year-old minor from Al’ Arrub was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 3:30 a.m. He reports being questioned multiple times without always being informed of his legal rights under military law. 

My friend called me at around 3:30 a.m. and told me Israeli soldiers were in the neighbourhood. As soon as I got up to see what was going on I heard banging at our front door. I woke my parents up and my father went downstairs to open up. 
Four soldiers entered our home and many more were outside. The commander asked my father for our identity cards. He then asked for me. He carefully checked my identity card and told me I was under arrest me. He did not say why.
I was handcuffed with my hands to the front with metal handcuffs. He tightened them hard and I was in pain. He then showed my father a document written in Hebrew and asked him to sign it. The document had information about my arrest and was written in both Arabic and Hebrew. Then he took a picture of me with my parents and took me downstairs where I was blindfolded in front of my parents.
Once outside the soldiers led me for about one kilometer to a nearby military watchtower. On the way a soldier swore at me and called me “a son of a whore”. When the commander left they beat me on my back. 
Then the area commander came and introduced himself and told me his name was Karam. He accused me of throwing a Molotov cocktail on the main road 10 days earlier and sarcastically called me a “hero”. I denied the accusation. Then he told me to hop on the jeep and said my file was ready. He pushed me into the back of the jeep where I sat on the metal floor. 
We drove to the police station in the settlement of Kiryat Arba. The soldiers took me into an office followed by an interrogator.
The interrogator wore civilian clothes and removed my blindfold but kept me handcuffed. He told I had the right to remain silent but warned if I did I would be the looser. He did not allow me to speak to a lawyer. He told me he was not going to say much because my file was ready. I asked him to tell me what was in my file. He told me I knew exactly what was in my file and asked me whether I was going to confess or not. Then he told me there were confessions against me and that he had DNA evidence to incriminate me. I told him I was innocent and had nothing to say. He told me he was going to see me in court where the judge would decide. 
The interrogation lasted for about 15 minutes and then I was blindfolded and taken to a cell in the police station in Etzion settlement. I was searched in my clothes and I was left there for 15 minutes.
After about 15 minutes I was taken outside and I could see a little bit from under my blindfold. The interrogator came and kicked me and then told me to go to his office. He took me inside and kept the handcuffs and the blindfold on. He then handed me a telephone and told me to speak to a lawyer. The person on the other end told me I knew exactly who the person in front of me was. He warned me against him and told me to be careful and to take care of myself. This lasted for seconds and the person hung up.
Then the interrogator removed the blindfold and showed me lots of files on his desk. Then he told me he was going to start interrogating me. He then slapped me when I asked for a cigarette and coffee. Then he showed me a document which he claimed was the DNA evidence against me. He told me the incident happened on 23 August 2019 and told me other boys had confessed against me. Then he told me I knew exactly what I had done. I told him I had no idea what he was talking about and I denied having done anything wrong.
Then a large man entered the room. He sat at the desk and lit a cigarette. He gave me a nasty look and I was scared. Then the interrogator told me to stand up. When I did the other man slapped me hard on my face and told me to sit down. This was repeated about 10 times. The interrogator wanted me to confess to throwing stones, a Molotov cocktail and pipe bombs on the main road. I denied the accusation and did not confess. This interrogation lasted for about three hours.
Then the interrogator showed me documents written in Hebrew and wanted me to sign them but I refused to sign. Then I was taken to Ofer prison where I was strip searched and taken for another interrogation by an intelligence officer. 
The intelligence officer did not inform me of my right to silence and did not allow me to speak to a lawyer. He named some boys and told me they had confessed against me. Then he told me they found my fingerprints on a Molotov cocktail. I denied the accusation. He questioned me for about an hour and then I was taken back to the Etzion cell where I spent a night. 
The following day I was taken back to Ofer prison in the evening. At Ofer I was strip searched again before being taken to Section 13. 
The following day I was taken to Ofer military court. My parents did not attend the hearing because they were not informed. My lawyer was there and the hearing was adjourned. 
The following day I was taken for another interrogation at Bitar Illit settlement. The interrogator allowed me to speak to a lawyer before he started to question me. The lawyer told me they wanted to question me again and told me to be careful. He did not inform me of my right to silence.  
Then the interrogator started to question me without informing me of any rights. He asked me whether I threw Molotov cocktails. I told him I did not. Then he named a boy and asked me whether I knew him and I told him I did not. Then he told me I was a poor boy because the accusations against me were false. I did not know whether he was being sarcastic or not. Then I was taken back to Ofer.
In all I  had about seven military court hearings. At the last hearing, which was on 13 January 2020, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to four-and-a-half months in prison and the military judge told me I could go home on the same day. I was served with a suspended sentence of three years in prison valid for seven years and my parents had to pay a fine of NIS 6,000. I was released after the hearing and I went home with my father. I arrived home at around midnight.
 This testimony was produced with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Military Court Watch.