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Testimony: L.A.M.A.


Name: L.A.M.A.
Age: 17
Date: 28 March 2020
Location: Kafr Qaddum, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones / protesting

On 28 March 2020, a 17-year-old minor from Qafr Qaddum was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 4:00 p.m. He reports not being informed of his right to silence or consulting with a lawyer prior to each interrogation. 

Our house is very close to an area where protests against the Israeli military’s closure of a road take place each week. I was taking a nap at around 4:00 p.m. when I heard loud banging at our front door. I got up and found a large group of soldiers inside our home. They told my parents they were looking for my younger brother. We were all in shock and my grandmother, who is very old, was terrified. 
Then the soldiers grabbed my younger brother and as they dragged him outside I tried to intervene. A soldier pushed and slapped me hard on the face and told me to go back inside. He swore at me and then tied my hands behind my back with two plastic ties on top of each other. He tightened them very hard and my palms swelled and turned blue and were very painful. The ties left marks on my wrists for weeks. Then he blindfolded me and walked me towards the nearby settlement where I was made me sit by the gate.
By the gate a masked soldier, who spoke good Arabic, approached me and started to question me without informing me of my rights. He showed me some selfies which I had taken in the village and then he showed me a video of my arrest which my family had taken and posted on Facebook soon after I had been taken away. The soldier wanted me to give him the names of everyone in the video. Then he accused me of throwing stones at soldiers and wanted me to confess. He threatened to shoot me if I did not confess and told me it was in my interest to confess to him rather than be taken for an interrogation at the police station in Ariel settlement. I was kept by the gate until around 8:00 p.m.
At around 8:00 p.m. I was taken to a military base inside the settlement. I was left on a chair in an outdoor area and I could not sleep at all. At around 3:00 a.m. I was taken into a shipping container where I was left on the floor and I could not sleep there either because I was tied and blindfolded. 
At around 5:30 a.m. I was taken to Ariel settlement where I was taken to a room where my fingerprints were taken. At around 9:00 a.m. I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator removed the blindfold but kept me tied. He had a voice recorder on his desk. He asked me if I wanted to speak to my parents to ask them to appoint a lawyer for me. I told him yes and I was not going to answer any questions before I spoke to my father. Then he called my father and my father told me not to be scared and then the line was cut off.  Then I told the interrogator I wanted to speak to a lawyer but he did not call one for me. Then he told me I could either speak or remain silent and that both options were my right.
Then he showed me some photographs of clashes with soldiers and wanted me to give him names. I told him I did not know anyone. Then he accused me of taking part in an illegal protest and of throwing stones at soldiers. He told me two soldiers had testified against me. I denied the accusation. Then he told me if I confessed this time he was going to send me home. I continued to deny the accusation. He questioned me for about 10 minutes and then he showed me documents in Hebrew and asked me to sign them but I refused to sign before he translated them to me but he never did.
Then I was taken to Huwwara military base where I was searched in my boxer shorts before being taken to a prison cell. I was left in that cell by myself for 17 days. I went crazy and nearly pulled my hair at the end on the 17 days. On the third day I had a military court hearing which was conducted via video link. No one from my family attended the hearing. Not much happened and the hearing was adjourned. After spending 17 days at Huwwara I was taken to Ofer prison. At Ofer I was searched in my boxer shorts and then I was takento the juvenile section. 
I had four more military court hearings and at the last one I was offered a plea bargain. I was sentenced to four months in prison and given a suspended sentence of one year in prison valid for three years. I accepted the plea bargain based on my lawyer’s advice. My father then paid NIS 1,000 and my sentence was reduced to three months in prison.   
In prison I cut the hair of the other prisoners which I liked and it gave me a lot of experience; I used to cut the hair of 8-10 prisoners a day. I did not have any family visits because of the Corona Virus regulations. I had no official telephone communication with my family. 
I was released on 29 June 2020 and I went home with my father. I arrived home in the evening.