|Date:||28 March 2020|
|Location:||Kafr Qaddum, West Bank|
On 28 March 2020, a 13-year-old minor from Kafr Qaddum was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 4:00 p.m. He reports first being questioned by a soldier without first being informed of his legal rights under military law.
At around 4:00 p.m. there were clashes in my village with Israeli soldiers. My brother and I were at home when all of a sudden a group of soldiers banged at our front door. They kept banging and my mother finally opened the door.
Five soldiers entered our home while others remained outside. They were tense and on high alert. The soldiers immediately approached me and wanted to take me away. My mother and grandmother intervened and tried to release me but they did not succeed. The soldiers pushed my 70-year-old grandmother to the ground but luckily she was not hurt.
The soldiers told my mother me and my brother were under arrest because we were throwing stones at the soldiers during the clashes. We told them we did not throw stones but they did not listen. They immediately took me outside without giving my family any documents.
Once outside my hands were tied behind my back with a single plastic tie which was very tight and painful. Then they walked me towards the gate of the nearby settlement. They made me sit on the ground by the gate and blindfolded me.
A soldier started to ask me questions. He yelled at me and accused me of throwing stones at the soldiers. He pulled my T-shirt off my shoulder and threatened to bite me. He asked me questions without informing me of my rights. This lasted for about two hours and then I was taken to the back of a jeep where I sat on a seat and the jeep took me to a military base inside the settlement.
I was left outside the base in the cold weather for about three hours. Then a soldier brought some cardboard and told me to sleep on the cardboard outside. When I objected he took me to a room but the soldiers there were very noisy and I could not sleep at all. They deliberately laughed and banged to make sure I did not fall asleep. In the morning I was taken to Ariel settlement for interrogation.
The interrogator removed my blindfold but kept me tied. He wore a police uniform. He asked me if I wanted to speak to my father and I told him I did. I hardly spoke to my father for less than a minute before the line was cut off. Then the interrogator asked me if I wanted to speak to a lawyer and I told him there was no need because my father was going to speak to one. Then he told me I had the right to remain silent.
Then the interrogator asked me whether I worked and threatened to never allow me to obtain a work permit to work inside Israel. Then he accused me of throwing stones at soldiers and monitoring the movement of soldiers in our village. I denied the accusations. The interrogator typed everything on a computer. He questioned me for about 15 minutes and in the end he showed me some documents in Hebrew and wanted me to sign them but I refused. When I asked for a glass of water he told me he would give me some water later but he never did.
After the interrogation I was re-blindfolded an taken to Huwwara military base near Nablus where I was searched in my underwear. The metal detector beeped and the soldier threatened to take me to the hospital to see what was in my stomach and to make me pay the expenses. Then another soldier searched me and did not find anything wrong. I was then taken to a room with two other detainees where I remained for about three hours.
After about three hours I was taken to the checkpoint near Megiddo. I was left in a room at the checkpoint by myself. I was given some cold and unappetising food. There was one blanket on the floor and I slept there one night. I could not fall asleep easily because I was worried and I thought of my family especially my mother.
In the morning I was told I had a military court hearing. I was taken to another room where I was linked to the military court via video because of the Corona Virus restrictions. I was linked to a female judge and to a lawyer who told me I had to confess to throwing stones at soldiers. I refused to confess and told the lawyer I did not throw stones. He insisted once again and told me I had to plead guilty if I wanted to go home that day. The interpreter then told me I was accused of throwing stones and that I was going to be released the same day.
My father later told me I was sentenced in a plea bargain and that he had to pay a NIS 1,000 fine. The military court imposed a suspended sentence of one year in prison valid for three years.
After the video conference I was driven to Salem checkpoint where I was released but my father was waiting for me at another checkpoint. I spoke to a taxi driver and asked him to call my father and the two agreed on a point where the taxi driver would drop me off. My father picked me up and paid the driver. I was released on 30 March 2020 and I arrived home around sunset.
This testimony was produced with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Military Court Watch.