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Testimony: Z.S.M.A.


Name: Z.S.M.A.
Age: 17
Date: 1 March 2019
Location: Askar, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones

On 1 March 2019, a 17-year-old minor from Askar refugee camp was arrested by Israeli soldiers at noon during clashes. He reports being interrogated without first being informed of his legal rights under military law. 

An Israeli military jeep got stuck in the mud and clashes erupted close to the nearby settlement. It was around noon. I was in the area and was surprised by a group of soldiers who ambushed me in an olive grove. About 10 soldiers started to shout at me ordering me to go flat on the ground which I did. 
A soldier then tied my hands behind my back with three plastic ties: one on each wrist and another connecting the two. He tightened them really hard and caused me a lot of pain which left marks on my wrists for a long time. He also blindfolded me and then led me towards the settlement. 
On arrival at the settlement a commander asked me what I was doing in the area and claimed my friends had confessed against me and told him I was throwing stones. He did not inform me of my rights.
A short time later I was taken to a military jeep and I sat on a seat. The jeep drove to a place I did not recognise where I waited from around 3:00 p.m. until around 10:00 p.m. when I was taken for interrogation.
Before he said anything, the interrogator asked me whether I wanted to phone a lawyer myself or wanted him to call a lawyer for me. I told him I did not want a lawyer and that I was capable of defending myself. Without informing me of my right to silence he wanted to know what I was doing in the area where I was arrested. Then he told me my friend had confessed against me and wanted me to confess against my friend. I denied the accusation and did not confess against my friend. He was calm and spoke to me via an interpreter. He had a voice recorder and he turned it on.
Then he wanted to know who threw the fire bomb at the settlement. I told him I did not know and then he told me one of my friends told him I threw it. I denied the accusation. This lasted for about an hour and in the end he showed me documents in Hebrew and asked me to sign them but I refused to sign. Then the interpreter urged me to sign and told me the signature had no significance, it was just a formality. I believed him and I signed. 
Then I was taken in a jeep to Huwwara military base where I was searched in my clothes before being taken to a cell where I stayed  until around 3:00 p.m. the following day. Then I was taken to Megiddo prison inside Israel where I was searched in my clothes before being taken to the juvenile section.  
Two days later I was taken to Salem military court. My parents did not attend the first hearing because they were not informed about it.  I was denied bail and the hearing was adjourned. 
In all I had about eight military court hearings. At the last one I was sentenced in a plea bargain to 27 days in prison and fined NIS 2,000 shekels. I also received a suspended sentence of six months in prison valid for four years. I accepted the bargain because it meant I would go home in five days.
I was released at Al Jalama checkpoint on 31 March 2019. No one from my family was expecting my release so I called them and my father picked me up. I arrived home at around 9:00 p.m.