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Testimony: N.S.M.S.


Name:  N.S.M.S.
Age:  14
Date:  16 May 2017
Location:  Azzun, West Bank
Accusation:  Lighting tires

On 16 May 2017, a 14-year-old boy from Azzun is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 2:30 a.m. and accused of throwing stones and lighting tires. He reports being interrogated without prior access to a lawyer.

I was still awake at around 2:30 a.m. when I saw on Facebook that Israeli soldiers were in the village making arrests. Shortly afterwards I heard commotion around the house. I looked out the window and I saw a large number of soldiers and military jeeps outside. I realised they were coming to our house.
Moments later my 17-year-old sister walked into my bedroom shivering; she could hardly talk. Then I heard loud banging on my uncle’s front door; he lives in the same building. Everyone woke up and we heard the soldiers enter my uncle’s house. Then they banged at our front door.
My father looked for the key but he couldn’t find it. Meanwhile the soldiers went mad because he did not open the door immediately. They kept banging more and more aggressively with their guns and boots. My father finally opened the door and a large number of soldiers entered our home. Some of the soldiers had camouflage paint on their faces.
The soldiers told my father to gather us in the living room downstairs where my aunt lives. One of the soldiers told my father he wanted to talk to me outside for five minutes. I asked him if I could put some clothes on but he refused and forced me out into the courtyard. The other soldiers remained inside my aunt’s living room where all my family members were and they aimed their guns at them.
The commander scribbled a note in Hebrew on a piece of paper and asked my father to sign it. The note said I was arrested in my father’s presence. My father, who understands some Hebrew, signed the piece of paper and the commander took it with him.
Outside the house I saw about 50 soldiers in full military gear. One of them tied my hands to the back with one plastic tie which was very tight and painful. It left a mark on my wrists for a long time. Five soldiers stood guarding me. At this point I realised it wasn’t going to be a few minutes. I remained there in my shorts and T-shirt for about an hour while soldiers searched the house. I heard my father say he wanted me to put on proper clothes but the soldiers refused. In the end they allowed him to bring me some clothes and a soldier removed the tie and allowed me to get dressed and then tied me again.
After about an hour the soldiers led me a short distance and put me in the back of a jeep where they blindfolded me. They made me sit on the metal floor and I could feel every bump on the road when the jeep drove away.
Inside the jeep a soldier verbally abused me and called my mother and sister "whores". I was very upset and said similar thing back to the soldier. The jeep drove a short distance to the nearby military base at Zufin. At the base I was taken to a small room which was very cold. It felt like I was inside a refrigerator. I sat there until noon without food or drink and without going to the toilet.
At one point a female soldier came into the room and put her face very close to mine and I felt uncomfortable. I told her to move back because she had bad breath. She got upset and kicked me and then left. While in the room I sat on a chair and I was able to sleep on and off.
At around noon I was examined by a doctor who removed the tie and the blindfold during the examination and put them back on when he was finished. He tied me tightly to the front and I complained and he started to laugh. He then replaced it with a looser tie to the back.
Then I was taken to a corridor where I sat on the floor for about 10 minutes and then I was taken to a room with other detainees before being put in a troop carrier which drove to the nearby settlement of Yaqir. A short while later I was taken to the police station in Ariel settlement. I don’t know what time it was when I arrived at Ariel but it was still light. I was then taken for interrogation.
The interrogator, who told me his name was Sharif, removed the tie and the blindfold and told me he was going to release me if I promised not to throw stones again. I told him I did not throw stones and this upset him very much and he started to swear saying bad things about god. He asked me for a telephone number for my lawyer and I told him I did not have a number for a lawyer on me and I asked him to call my father. He called my father and told him I would be in Salem military court the next day, then he hung up.
Then he told me if I chose to remain silent that would be fine but it would affect me and I would be convicted. I understood that to mean it wasn’t wise to remain silent and refusing to answer questions would cause me troubles. He did not tell me I could talk to a lawyer.
Then the interrogator told me he had photographs and video footage of me throwing stones. I denied the accusation and challenged him to show me the photographs and the footage but he never did. The interrogation lasted for about 90 minutes.
In the end I confessed to setting tires on fire which is not such a serious offence. I was worried if I did not confess to something I would be released a few days later and people in the village would suspect me of being a collaborator because I was arrested earlier in the year and released within four days.
At the end of the interrogation I was shown a document in Hebrew and the interrogator told me to sign it after he translated it for me. I signed it because it was identical to what I had told him.
Then I was taken to a troop carrier which drove me to Huwwara military base. The driver went very fast and we arrived at Huwwara in less than 20 minutes. At Huwwara I was searched in my underwear and then I was taken to a cell. By this time I was very hungry and thirsty and I started to bang at the door asking for food. In the end the soldiers got sick of the banging and brought me two slices of bread and some water. I spent one night there.
The following day I was taken to Salem military court. The trip was exhausting. I was jammed in a small cage-like area inside a vehicle together with another boy. We sat on top of each other. The trip took about three hours. At Salem I was taken straight to court.
My parents were at court and I was allowed to speak to them. There was no lawyer to represent me in court because of the lawyers’ strike and the hearing was adjourned. After the court I was taken to Megiddo prison inside Israel where I was strip searched and taken to the juvenile section.
I had four more military court hearings and they were all adjourned. On the last hearing I was given the choice of either two months in prison or a 2,000 shekels fine and be released immediately. I chose to pay 2,000 shekels. I was also given six months suspended for two years. I was released from Megiddo on 1 June 2017, at around 6:30 p.m. and I went home with my parents who were waiting for me at Al Jalama checkpoint. 
I did not study in prison because the level was very low. They offered to teach us the alphabet and simple mathematics like addition and subtraction.