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Testimony: Z.M.H.A.


Name:  Z.M.H.A.
Age:  14
Date:  14 October 2018
Location:  Tuqu, West Bank
Accusation:  Throwing stones

On 13 October 2018, a 14-year-old boy from Tuqu is served with a summons by Israeli soldiers at 3:00 a.m. The boy complies with the summons but is arrested by soldiers on 14 October at 4:00 a.m. 

I was fast asleep when I heard loud banging on our front gate downstairs. It was around 3:00 a.m. I jumped out of bed and looked out the window and saw about 5 Israeli military jeeps on the street near our house. My father opened the front door and about 20 soldiers entered out home. Three soldiers were wearing masks which was scary. 
A soldier checked my father’s identity card and when they saw my name in the annex the commander handed me a summons to go to the police station in Etzion settlement at 8:30 a.m. The summons was filled out in Hebrew. The soldiers left and I was able to sleep for another hour; I wanted to be rested before going to the police station.
My father and I arrived at the police station at around 8:30 a.m. We waited for about 3 hours before a soldier called my father’s name. The soldier took the summons and wrote down my father’s telephone number and told him we could both go home and that someone called Captain Imad would contact us the following day. My father and I went back home. We arrived back home at around noon.
At around 4:00 a.m. the following night I woke up to the sound of very loud banging at our front door. My father opened the door and about 20 soldiers entered our home. The commander checked my father’s identity card and when he saw my name he turned to me and told me he wanted me to go with him. The commander told me I was going to be interrogated because I was suspected of throwing stones on the main road. The soldiers did not give my parents any documents. 
The Captain took my parents to the living room and gave them a lecture about how best to raise children. He told them they were not doing enough to raise us properly. He also told them our village was a dangerous place and that he was seriously considering implementing some harsh decisions to punish the village. He told them he was considering declaring the village a closed military zone and banning anyone from leaving or entering the village. He also told my parents he was considering using live ammunition and said he wanted to give the village one last chance. When my mother told him her children were well-behaved he told her that was not true and that parents should beat their children and punish them and lock them up inside the house to discipline them. Then my mother asked the commander not to beat me and he looked at her and told her Israel was a country governed by law. 
I put on some clothes and said goodbye to my parents. Then I was taken outside where my hands were tied to the front with 3 plastic ties: one on each wrist and another one connecting the two. The ties were not painful. I was also blindfolded. I was then taken to the back of a military jeep where I sat on a seat and a soldier put a seat belt on me. 
The jeep drove to the nearby military base where I was taken to a courtyard and I sat on the ground for about 2 hours. It was a cold night. At around 5:30 a.m. I was taken in a jeep to Etzion police station. At Etzion I waited at the gate for about an hour before I was allowed in and taken for interrogation.
The interrogator wore civilian clothes. He sat in front of an Israeli flag which was hung on the wall behind him. He also had a pistol in front of him. I don’t recall seeing a camera or a voice recorder in the room. 
As soon as I entered the room the interrogator removed the ties and the blindfold and told me he wanted me to confess to throwing stones and to tell him everything. Then he phoned a lawyer and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me to remain silent and not confess. The conversation with the lawyer lasted for about a minute.
Without informing me of my rights, the interrogator continued to question me about throwing stones and wanted me to tell him the names of boys seen in photographs which he showed me. Then he said he would show me photographs showing me throwing stones and wondered how I would react. When I did not say anything he twisted my ear and thumped the table and raised his voice at me saying I had to confess. 
The interrogator then asked me what my father did for a living. When I told him my father was a taxi driver he threatened to bring my father to the police station and to confiscate his taxi if I did not confess. The interrogation lasted for about 30 minutes and I did not confess. Then I was taken to see another interrogator.
The second interrogator did not inform me of my rights. He turned a voice recorder on and told me he was going to show me photographs of me. He showed me a photograph of a boy standing doing nothing. Then he showed me another photograph which was not very clear. He accused me of throwing stones at soldiers but I denied the accusation. Then he lost his temper and raised his voice at me and told me I had to confess. The whole time he was typing on a computer. He questioned me for about 2 hours but I did not confess. During this time the interrogator took me outside the room a couple of times and then brought me back in. I was not given any documents to sign.
After the second interrogation I was photographed and fingerprinted. Then I was taken to a cell. On the way to the cell a group of soldiers in a military vehicle passed me and swore at me saying I was “a son of a whore”. They reached out of the window as if they wanted to slap me. Then I was left outside the cell for about an hour on the floor. Later I was searched with my clothes on before being taken into the cell.
A short while later I was taken to Ofer prison where I was strip searched. 
The following day I was taken to Ofer military court. My parents were not in court because they were not told about the hearing.  The military judge decided to extend my detention. I had 5 more military court hearings. 
At the last hearing I was told there was a confession against me by another boy from my village. The judge decided to release me and to delay my suspended sentence which I had from a previous imprisonment. I was also told that the judge decided that the photograph presented by the prosecutor was not clear and therefore he did not consider it as valid evidence against me. My family was fined 2,000 shekels which my father paid.
I was released on the 24 October 2018 and I went home with my parents who were waiting for me outside prison. I had dinner and went straight to bed.