|Date:||21 May 2021|
|Location:||Hebron, West Bank|
On 21 May 2021, a 16-year-old minor from Hebron was arrested by Israeli soldiers during clashes at 4:00 p.m. He reports being interrogated without first consulting with a lawyer or being informed of his right to silence.
I was arrested during clashes with Israeli soldiers. It was around 4:00 p.m. I ran as fast as I could when other boys shouted “soldiers…soldiers” but I was not fast enough and a soldier grabbed me and pushed me to the ground. He tied my hands behind my back with two plastic ties on top of each other and tightened them very hard. I had to bend backwards to ease the pain. He also covered my eyes with the Kufiyah I was wearing and shackled my feet.
Then the soldiers walked me for about 200 meters towards the military checkpoint where they made me kneel on the ground for about two hours. The soldiers beat me all over my body while I was tied and blindfolded. A military commander came and told me he was going to drag my father to prison by the nose because of me. After about two hours they took me to the back of a jeep where I sat on a seat. A soldier shouted at me and called me "a son of a whore". The jeep drove me to the police station at a nearby settlement.
At the settlement I was given a medical examination. I told the person who examined me that I was beaten up when he asked me whether I had been beaten but I saw that he circled the wrong answer. Then I was taken to the police station in Etzion settlement for interrogation; I arrived there at around midnight.
At Etzion I waited outside for about an hour and then a soldier replaced the plastic ties with metal handcuffs and handcuffed me to the front and then tied the handcuffs to the shackles with a chain. Then I was taken into the interrogation room.
The interrogator asked me if I wanted to speak to a lawyer. I told him there was no need for a lawyer because I had not done anything wrong. Then he phoned my father and told him where I was. Then, without informing me of my right to silence, he accused me of throwing stones at soldiers during clashes. When I denied the accusation, he accused me of weapons possession. I denied that accusation too.
Then he started to ask me questions about my family. I told I did not know anything. Then he showed me photos of the clashes and asked me about a sling shot. He wanted to know the names of the boys who were throwing stones at soldiers. I told him I did not know any of them. He was aggressive and spoke to me in a loud and threatening voice. Then he accused me of being a member of Hamas. He pushed all the papers off his desk in an angry gesture and threatened to lock me up in prison for a long time if I did not confess. He also threatened to revoke my family’s work permit if I did not confess. I was so scared that I confessed to throwing one stone which missed from a distance of 400 meters.
The interrogation lasted about two hours. After I confessed the interrogator showed me some documents written in Hebrew and asked me to sign them. When I asked him to show me the documents in Arabic he told me he did not have them in Arabic. He asked me again to sign and I did.
Then I was strip searched before being taken to a cell with other detainees. I spent six days in that cell. The cell did not have any windows. The mattress was very thin and the food was terrible. During this time, I had a military court hearing over Zoom. My parents were not informed and they did not attend. My detention was extended and the hearing was adjourned.
After six days I was taken to the quarantine section in Megiddo prison, inside Israel. I spent 14 days in quarantine. Then I was taken to the juvenile section at Megiddo. I was transferred to a small cell by myself because they suspected I came in contact with a guard who had COVID. I spent 10 days in the cell by myself and I found that very hard. The cell was 2 x 3 meters, and did not have any windows. There were cockroaches everywhere and the light was on 24 hours a day and I found it very hard to fall asleep.
I attended 11 military court hearings on Zoom. At the last one, which was one day before I was released, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to four months in prison and fined NIS 2,500. I was also given an additional six-month prison sentence suspended for three years. I accepted the plea bargain because I wanted to go home the following day.
I spent one month at Megiddo prison and then I was transferred to Damoun prison, also inside Israe, l where I spent the rest of my prison sentence. In prison I exercised and I worked in the canteen to pass the time. I had two family visits, but I missed one because I was in quarantine. I was very upset because my father was looking forward to seeing me and instead he was sent home.
I was released at Al Jalama checkpoint on 21 September 2021 and I took a taxi to Ramallah where I met my family. I arrived in the evening.
This testimony was produced with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Military Court Watch.