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Testimony: Y.I.M.Z.


Name:  Y.I.M.Z.
Age:  17
Date:  14 February 2019
Location:  Al Jalazun, West Bank
Accusation:  Weapon possession/stone throwing

On 14 February 2019, a 17-year-old minor from Al Jalazun refugee camp was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 3:30 a.m. He reports not being permitted to consult with a lawyer prior to interrogation as required under military law. 

About two weeks before I was arrested an Israeli intelligence officer phoned my father at around 8:30 p.m. and told him he wanted me to come to his office at Ofer for “a chat”. I went as requested. 
The intelligence officer warned me if I did anything wrong he was going to put me in prison. He told me this time he was going to send me home. About a week after this conversation a Palestinian “security officer” called me and warned me that if I am seen on the main road at the entrance to the refugee camp where I live Israeli soldiers would shoot and kill me. 
A week later, on 14 February, there was loud banging at our front door. It was around 3.30 a.m. My mother opened the door and about 30 soldiers entered our home. The Area Commander was with them. He started yelling at me saying he was going to “chop my head off”. The soldiers pushed my mother into one of the rooms and did not allow her to leave. Then the commander told me I was under arrest but he did not say why and did not give my parents any documents.
The soldiers searched our house turning everything upside down causing damage to our furniture. My younger siblings were terrified, especially my younger brother who is 12.  Half-an-hour later young men and boys from the camp started to throw stones at the soldiers and there were clashes between the two sides. 
Shortly afterwards a soldier tied my hands behind my back with three plastic ties: one on each wrist and another connecting the two. The ties were painful. Then they walked me to the main road at the entrance to the camp where I was blindfolded. On the way the soldiers treated me badly: they kicked me on my leg until I bled and slapped me on the head. They also swore at me calling me “a son of a whore”. Then they pushed me into the back of a military jeep and made me sit on the metal floor. The soldiers in the back of the jeep made fun of me and asked me to sing and dance. 
The jeep drove to the nearby settlement of Beit El where I was taken to a shipping container. I was left there for about five hours. During this time a doctor examined me and gave me a glass of water. In the morning I was taken to the police station in Binyamin settlement for interrogation. At around 10:00 a.m. I was taken to an interrogation room.
The interrogator removed the blindfold and showed me a document written in Hebrew and Arabic about my right to consult with a lawyer and my right to silence. Then he accused me of weapon possession and throwing stones. Then he told me they found a gun at my uncle’s house and claimed they found my fingerprints on it. I denied the accusation. He thumped the table and yelled at me and accused me of lying to him. He threatened to lock me up in a small cell if I did not confess.
He questioned me for about four hours and kept repeating the same accusations. He wanted me to confess but I did not. At the end of the interrogation he allowed me to speak to a lawyer. The lawyer told me not to worry and that he was going to speak to my parents and let them know where I was. The conversation was very short and the interrogator was listening. 
Then the interrogator showed me documents written in Hebrew and asked me to sign them but I refused to sign something I did not understand. 
After the interrogation I was taken to Ofer military court. The military judge decided to extend my detention for more interrogation. Then I was taken to Ofer prison where I was strip searched and I was asked to crouch up and down while naked which was very embarrassing. 
Two days later I was taken for another interrogation at the police station in Binyamin settlement. The interrogator showed me the document about my rights. Then he started to question me about the same accusations. When I told him I was going to remain silent he said it was not right and that I would be violating the laws. He also told me remaining silent was disrespectful to him. This interrogator did not allow me to speak to a lawyer. The interrogation lasted for about two hours and I denied all the accusations and refused to sign documents written in Hebrew. The interrogator also named another boy and told me he had confessed against me. After the interrogation I was taken back to prison.
I had two more interrogations. I was given the document about my rights at the beginning of each interrogation but I did not speak to any lawyers. I continued to deny all the accusations and refused to sign any documents. 
Between interrogations I had hearings in the military courts. All in all I had about 15 hearings and at the last one I was sentenced in a plea bargain to one year in prison, fined NIS 2,000 and given a suspended sentence of one year valid for 5 years. I accepted the plea bargain because I was told that rejecting it would mean spending more time in prison.
I spent eight months in Ofer prison and then I was transferred to the Negev prison inside Israel. My family visited me twice a month. In prison I exercised and helped cook meals for the other prisoners. My time there was difficult and humiliating.
I was released on 23 January 2020 at Al-Dahiriya checkpoint and I arrived home at around 7:00 p.m.