|Date:||25 August 2019|
|Location:||Bethlehem, West Bank|
On 25 August 2019, a 16-year-old minor from Bethlehem was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 3:00 a.m. He reports being interrogated without first consulting with a lawyer or being informed of his right to silence.
My mother woke me up at around 3:00 a.m. and told me Israeli soldiers were in our house. I got up and saw about 40 soldiers scattered all over our home. More were on the roof and outside.
The commander asked my father for my name. Then the commander held me tight by the neck and took me to my bedroom and asked to see my phone and identity card. The other soldiers searched the house causing damage to our furniture. They slit open our couches and did not leave anything untouched. They did not tell us what they were looking for. The commander told me if I had “anything” I should turn it over immediately.
Then, without giving us any documentation, a soldier tied my hands behind my back with two plastic ties on top of each other and tightened them very hard. The ties were very painful and my hands turned blue and I lost sensation which was scary. The ties left marks on my wrists for days. Then they took me outside where I was blindfolded. The soldiers then led me towards a military jeep. On the way soldiers swore at me before throwing me on the metal floor to the jeep.
They left me on the metal floor for about 30 minutes and went back to the house to search again. Then I was allowed to sit on a seat and the jeep drove me to a nearby military base where I was given a medical examination. I was left inside a watchtower for about two hours and then I was taken outside. Then I was taken to the police station in Etzion settlement for interrogation.
The interrogator removed the blindfold and told me I was at the interrogation centre and that my friends had confessed against me. He told me because my friends had confessed against me I had to confess. He accused me of throwing a hand grenade at soldiers. I denied the accusation and told him I had done nothing wrong and that my friends were liars. He started to yell and shout at me and accused me of lying. He questioned me without informing me of my right to silence and threatened to lock me up in prison for three years if I did not confess.
Half-way through the interrogation he phoned a lawyer for me. The lawyer told me the interrogator had no right to yell at me. The interrogator put the phone on speaker and listened to the conversation which lasted for less than a minute. Neither the lawyer nor the interrogator informed me of my right to silence.
Then I was taken to a tiny cell. My legs touched the wall when I slept. It did not have any windows and the sink leaked on the floor. The light in the cell flickered all the time. There was a blanket in the cell but I could not sleep. During this time I was taken back and forth into the interrogation room over about four hours.
At the end of the interrogation I was asked to sign a document in Hebrew but I refused to sign. Then I was taken back to the cell where I remained for three days. I found it hard to sleep because of the light and the small size of the cell. I was given terrible food, some rice which sometimes was not cooked properly and sometimes they brought me some sour cream with the rice other times not. I would fall asleep for an hour at a time and then wake up. I was not able to tell whether it was day or night.
After three days I was taken to Ofer prison where I was strip searched. The following day I was taken to Ofer military court. My parents were there and my lawyer and the hearing was adjourned.
I had about 10 military court hearings and at the last one I was sentenced in a plea bargain to eight months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I was also given a suspended sentence of one year in prison valid for three years. The plea bargain was based on my friends’ confessions. I accepted the plea bargain because I only had three months left in prison and I thought it was better to be sentenced than not. I wanted certainty and closure.
I spent about five months at Ofer prison and then I was transferred to Damoun prison, inside Israel, where the conditions were terrible. I was beaten during the prisoners’ protests against the conditions. I was beaten on my back.
My family only visited me four times. During the Corona Virus months we were allowed to make phone calls to our families. I called my family three times.
I was released at Salem checkpoint on 23 April 2020. I went home with my father, we arrived home at around 6:00 p.m.