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Testimony: M.M.A.J.


Name: M.M.A.J.
Age: 15
Date: 13 June 2017
Location: Al 'Arrub camp, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones/protesting

On 13 June 2017, a 15-year-old minor from Al 'Arrub refugee camp was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 6:00 a.m. and accused of throwing stones and protesting. He reports ill treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He reports being sentenced to 2 months in prison and fined NIS 4,000.

My mother woke me up at around 6:00 a.m. and told me that Israeli soldiers were at the door. I got up and looked out the front door and I saw about 30 soldiers outside our house. Some of the soldiers were masked and there were two female soldiers among them. My uncle was with the soldiers because they first knocked at his door looking for me.
About 10 soldiers entered our home and searched it without causing any damage. The commander asked for the annex in my mother’s identity card and for my birth certificate. Then he took them and never gave them back. 
Then the commander told me to say goodbye to my parents because they were going to arrest me. Two soldiers held me by the arms, handcuffed me to the front and took me outside. They did not give my parents any documents and did not give any reasons for my arrest. The handcuffs were not painful.
The soldiers led me towards a military jeep where I was blindfolded. I was put in the back of the jeep and made me sit on the metal floor. Inside the jeep I felt the breath of a dog sniffing my hands and I was terrified.
The jeep drove for about 10 minutes to the police station in Etzion settlement where I was examined by a doctor. The doctor removed the handcuffs and the blindfold and asked some questions about my health and then put them back on again. Then the soldiers walked me inside the Etzion compound while handcuffed and blindfolded for about an hour. I was very tired. Then I was taken for interrogation.
As soon as I entered the interrogation room I was slapped on the face. I was still blindfolded and handcuffed. I was in shock. Then the interrogator removed the blindfold and asked me for my name and then blindfolded me again. I was handcuffed and blindfolded throughout the interrogation. Then he started to ask me questions without informing me of any rights.
The interrogator wanted to know what I had done with another boy whom he named. When I told him I hadn’t done anything wrong he lost his temper and started to verbally abuse me saying terrible things about whores. He told me if I didn’t cooperate with him he was going to give me a hard time. I told him I wasn’t going to confess to something I did not do.
Then he accused me of throwing stones at a settler bus and of taking part in protests. I denied the accusations. He told me I was a liar and said he was going to take me to the toilet where he told me I was a "fucking whore" and he slapped me while blindfolded and started to bang with something that sounded like a pipe.
An hour into the interrogation he called my father and told him to appoint a lawyer for me but my father told the interrogator it was his responsibility to appoint a lawyer and pay the legal fees. The interrogator then called a lawyer and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me to remain silent and not to say anything and I told the lawyer it was too late. Then the interrogator showed me a document in Hebrew and asked me to sign it after he told me it was about appearing in court. I signed the document.
After the interrogation I was searched in my underwear and taken into a cell at Etzion. At around 2:30 p.m. I was taken to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem, where I was searched again in my underwear and taken into Section 13. The soldier wanted me to strip but I refused.
The following day I was taken to Ofer military court. My parents were not there because they were not informed but a lawyer was there and my detention was extended and the hearing was adjourned.
I had two more hearings and on the last one the military judge told me I was accused of throwing stones at a settler bus and of taking part in a protest. I was given a copy of the charge sheet in Hebrew. Again I denied the accusations. The judge then told me they were going to bring in the 14-year-old boy whom he named and claimed had testified against me but they never brought the boy.
In the end I was offered a plea bargain. In the beginning I was offered three months in prison and NIS 3,000 fine but my mother objected. The military judge then offered two months in prison and NIS 4,000 fine which my mother accepted. I was also given a suspended sentence of three months in prison valid for three years.
I spent my prison sentence at Ofer and my parents did not visit me because they were not granted a visiting permit in time. The worst thing about prison was the crowdedness.
I was released on 31 July 2017, at around 5:30 p.m. and I went home with my father and sister. Prison was a bad experience which was meant to scare me but I am not scared of soldiers.