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Testimony: A.I.

Name: A.I.
Age: 14 years
Date of incident: 3 January 2013
Location: Beit Ummar, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones/Molotov cocktails
On 3 January 2013, a 14-year-old boy from Beit Ummar is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 3:30 a.m. and accused of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails.
“I was asleep when my brother woke me up at around 3:30 a.m. and told me my father wanted to see me in the living room. I got up and went to the living room and saw four Israeli soldiers standing there. I was shocked. The commander asked me for my name and told me to follow him. My father interrupted and told him to allow me to put on some clothes since it was a cold night. I went back to my bedroom to get dressed and the commander followed me. After I got dressed I followed the commander outside the house but I didn’t know where he was taking me or why; he didn’t tell me anything. There were lots of soldiers around the house. The neighbourhood looked like a battlefield.”
“Once outside a soldier tied my hands behind my back with three plastic ties and blindfolded me. I was pushed into a military vehicle and was made to sit on the metal floor. Soldiers cursed me and said bad things about my mother; they called me son of a whore. One soldier slapped me on the back of my neck.” A.I. arrived at the Israeli settlement of Gush Etzion about one hour later. He was led up some stairs, still tied and blindfolded, and made to wait for about two hours. “I tried to sit down on the floor but somebody prevented me from doing so. I was very tired. I was then taken to see an interrogator.”
The interrogator asked me whether I went to a funeral in our village. I refused to answer his question and asked him to remove my blindfold first. He took off my blindfold, cut off the hand ties and continued to ask me questions about the funeral. I was alone with the interrogator and he did not tell me his name. When I told him I didn’t attend the funeral he got very angry and banged the table. He told me others had confessed against me. He mentioned some names. He asked me whether I threw stones or Molotov cocktails. In the end I confessed to throwing stones. He then passed me on to another interrogator in another room.”
“The second interrogator asked me the same questions. He was angry and shouted at me. He then showed me a document written in Hebrew and asked me to sign it. When I asked him what it said he told me it was what I had told him, so I signed the document. The interrogation lasted about one-and-a-half hours. I was then taken to an open area where I sat on a bench for about three hours. I was blindfolded and my hands were tied in front of me with three plastic ties. I wasn’t given any food or water but I was allowed to use the toilet once.”
Later that evening A.I. was given a meal and was then transferred to Ofer Prison, near Ramallah, in the West Bank. “On arrival at Ofer I was made to stay in the vehicle for about two hours. It was a cold night and I was very tired. Two days later I was taken to Ofer military court just after breakfast at around 6:00 a.m. I was tied with metal hand cuffs and taken in a military vehicle with other children to court. It wasn’t until 5:00 p.m. that my turn came. In court I saw a lawyer for the first time. He brought me greetings from my parents and told me they couldn’t attend court because they were not informed I was there in time. I didn’t understand much of what went on in court but the lawyer told me the session was adjourned for two days. There was an interpreter but I couldn’t understand what he was saying.”
A.I. believes he had around six or seven military court sessions before his lawyer accepted a plea bargain on his behalf. “My parents attended most of the court sessions and my mother cried when she saw me for the first time. I told her from where I was standing in the court that I was ok and that children from our village were in the same cell as me.” The prosecutor wanted a prison sentence of eight months, but A.I. was ultimately given three months and a fine of NIS 1,500. “In prison I was allowed to study Hebrew but no other topics. My mother was able to visit me once. She came with my younger sister. I was allowed to speak to her through a speaker from behind a glass barrier. The visit lasted for about 45 minutes. My friends were very happy to see me back. I missed many school days. My school report will come out next week and I am a bit anxious.”