|Date:||17 May 2021|
|Location:||Tulkarem, West Bank|
On 17 May 2021, a 17-year-old from Tulkarem was arrested at 8:30 p.m. and accused of throwing stones. He reports ill treatment. He reports consulting with a lawyer prior to interrogation but not being informed of his right to silence by the interrogator. He reports being held in solitary confinement for 10 days. He was sentenced to 4 months in prison and fined NIS 1,000.
After work I went to look for my brothers because at the time there were clashes with Israeli soldiers on the by-pass road. It was around 8:30 p.m. Three soldiers suddenly ambushed me and immediately started to beat me. They pushed me to the rough ground and I cut my hands trying to protect myself. One of the soldiers continued to beat me on my back with his gun. They also swore at me.
The soldiers searched me and took money out of my pocket, about NIS 600, which I had earned that day from my work at a vegetable shop. Then they tied my hands behind my back with three plastic ties: one on each wrist and another connecting the two. The ties were very tight and painful. Then a soldier tore my shirt and blindfolded me with it. I was then left on the ground until around 1:00 a.m.
At around 1:00 a.m. the soldiers took me to a nearby settlement where they made me kneel down in an open area for a long time. A soldier asked me for my name and removed the ties and handcuffed me to the front with metal handcuffs. Then a doctor gave me a quick medical examination. He treated the cuts to my hands without removing the handcuffs. Then they took me to a bus where I sat on a seat and the bus drove to the settlement of Kedumim.
On arrival at Kedumim I was put in a shipping container. I tried to sleep on the floor while still handcuffed but I could not. Later that day, at around 9:00 a.m., I was taken to Salem military base for interrogation. The trip took a long time. Then they made me wait in a room and someone took my fingerprints and my photograph. At around 5:30 p.m. I was taken to the interrogation room.
The interrogator, who was wearing civilian clothes, phoned my father and told him to appoint a lawyer for me. My father gave him the name and number of a lawyer and the interrogator phoned him and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me to deny the accusation. He also told me not to answer questions. The conversation lasted for a few seconds and the interrogator was listening. Then the interrogator removed the handcuffs and, without informing me of my right to silence, he wanted to know why I threw stones at soldiers.
The interrogator then asked me what I was doing near the road and I told him I went to look for my younger brothers. Then he asked me what I wanted to buy with the money they found in my pocket. I told him I was going to buy some clothes. At the beginning he was calm but when I denied the accusation he thumped the table aggressively and told me he was not going to send me home until I confessed. He also said if I did not confess he was going to lock me up in prison for a long time.
At one point the interrogator brought me a glass of water when he noticed I was tense. He questioned me for about 30 minutes but I did not confess nor did I give him any names of my friends. At the end of the interrogation he forced me to sign a document written in Hebrew. I signed it because he shouted at me when I told him I was not going to sign except in the presence of a lawyer.
Then I was taken to Huwwara military base where I was strip searched and asked to crouch up and down and turn around while naked. I found it humiliating. Then I was taken to a cell where I spent 15 nights, 10 of which I was in solitary confinement.
The cell measured about 1.5 x 1.5 meters. It had one small window close to the ceiling which hardly let in any sun light. There were three terribly smelly blankets and a thin mattress on the floor. I used two blankets as a pillow. There was a light in the room which sometimes was kept on 24 hours a day. I was very stressed and could not sleep. On the first couple of days I felt palpitations in my chest and thought my heart was going to stop beating.
One night I banged at the door in the middle of the night and asked to see a doctor. The following day a doctor examined me and told me I had palpitations at night because I was scared of being alone. I asked that they bring another person to be with me at night but the guard told me it was not possible. I thought of my family the whole time and worried that my grandmother might die while I was in prison. I was particularly distressed because I could hear the other detainees chatting and laughing in the next cell while I was by myself. I was given fruits and some bread which was not enough. Then finally, they brought another boy in who spent five nights with me.
During the 15 days at Huwwara I had two military court hearings via zoom which my father attended. Both were adjourned. Then I was transferred to the quarantine section at Megiddo prison, inside Israel. I was strip searched and I spent 10 days there. Then I was taken into the juvenile section. I had two more court hearings.
At the last court hearing, which was sometime in May 2021, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to four months in prison and fined NIS 1,000. I was also given a further six months in prison suspended for five years. This was based on the testimonies of three soldiers. I was in tears during the last hearing because I was desperate to go home but I had to plead guilty. Then I held my tears back because I did not want my father to see me cry. I asked my father whether I should accept the bargain or not and my father told me to accept it because otherwise I would spend more time in prison.
When I turned 18 I was transferred to another section at Megiddo where I spent 14 days and then I was transferred to Remon prison, inside Israel.
I was released on 28 July 2021 at Al Thahiriyeh checkpoint and I went home with my brother-in-law. We arrived home at around 9:00 p.m. I found lots of relatives and friends waiting for me at home which was a nice surprise.
In prison I worked at the canteen and I attended classes in Arabic, Hebrew and Mathematics.
This testimony was produced with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Military Court Watch.