|Date:||24 March 2021|
|Location:||The Wall, West Bank|
On 24 March 2021, a 17-year-old minor from Jenin was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 4:00 a.m. by the Wall as he was entering Israel for work and accused of throwing stones. He reports ill treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He reports being held in solitary confinement for 17 days. He was sentenced to 3 months in prison and fined NIS 1,000.
I was crossing over into Israel from the West Bank through the Wall to go to work. It was around 4:00 a.m. Suddenly a military jeep approached and around eight soldiers go out. Shortly afterwards more military jeeps arrived. The soldiers wanted to know what I was doing in the area and who else was with me.
One of the soldiers searched me and then handcuffed me behind my back with metal handcuffs. The handcuffs were very tight and painful. He then blindfolded me and swore at me calling me "a son of a whore". He threatened to put me in administrative detention if I did not tell him who else was with me. This lasted for about 30 minutes and then I was taken to the back of a military jeep and made me sit on the metal floor.
Inside the jeep the soldiers beat me with the back of their guns and batons and slapped me on my back and head causing me to bleed. When I told them I had a slipped disc in my back they concentrated the beatings on my back and I was in severe pain. Then I received a big blow on the back of my head and I passed out.
The soldiers panicked and tried to revive me. They wiped the blood off my head, gave me some water and tried to wake me up. A few minutes later I woke up and one of the soldiers told me if I am asked whether I was beaten up I should say no. Then I was taken to Dotan settlement. We arrived there at around 6:00 a.m.
At Dotan I was taken to a shipping container where I sat on a chair. The soldiers tied my hands and legs to the chair and I was still blindfolded. I was left in the shipping container until around noon. I was not given any food or drink and I was not allowed to use the toilet. Then I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator removed the handcuffs and the blindfold and turned on a voice recorder and a camera. Then, without informing me of my right to silence, he accused me of throwing stones at soldiers. When I denied the accusation and told him I did not throw stones he told me he was not asking me whether I did it or not, he was just telling me.
Then he told me soldiers had already testified against me but I continued to deny the accusation. Then he accused me of throwing paint at a military jeep and that I had something to do with a back pack found with pipe bombs in it. I denied the accusation. He questioned me for about 30 minutes and was calm most of the time. At the end he phoned a lawyer for me and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me my case was simple and that I was going to be sent home soon. He spoke to me on a speaker phone and the interrogator was listening.
Then the interrogator showed me a document written in Hebrew and asked me to sign it. I understand some Hebrew so I read the document and then I signed it. Then I was taken to Salem checkpoint where I was takento a shipping container for a short time and then I was taken back to Dotan and then to Huwwara military base.
We arrived at Huwwara at around 2:00 a.m. I was strip searched and then I was taken to a cell. I spent 17 days in the cell in solitary confinement. The cell measured about 2 x 2 meters and had a small window near the ceiling. There was a small bed and right by the bed there was a urinary. I sometimes could tell day from night but most of the time I could not. I went crazy in the cell by myself and thought I was going to be mad for the rest of my life. Time went by very slowly and I felt that each day was 240 hours long. I tried to sleep to pass the time but I could not sleep. My mind was busy thinking about my family.
During this time I had military court hearings. The first one was on my second day at Huwwara. It was conducted via video link and my father took part. My detention was extended and the hearing was adjourned.
In all I had four military court hearings and at the last one, which was 15 days after my arrest, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to three months in prison and fined NIS 1,000. I was also given an eight-month suspended sentence valid for two years. I accepted the plea bargain because otherwise I was told I would spend eight months in prison. I was sentenced based on soldiers’ testimonies.
After spending 17 days in Huwwara I was transferred to the quarantine section at Megiddo prison, inside Israel. I spent eight days in quarantine before being put in the juvenile section where I spent the rest of my prison sentence. I did not have any family visits because of the Corona Virus regulations but I was allowed phone calls once every two weeks. When I turned 18 I was transferred to the adult section and I was not allowed to make phone calls.
I was released at Salem checkpoint on 10 June 20201, but my family were told to wait for me at Al Jalama checkpoint. I took a taxi to Al Jalama and we all went home. I arrived home at in the evening and found lots of family and friends at the house waiting for me. Prison was a difficult experience, especially when I was beaten and passed out. My time in solitary confinement was also very difficult.
After I was released I sat for my high school exams and I passed all my tests. I could not believe I did it because I missed about three months of school and did not have much time to study before the exams.
This testimony was produced with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Military Court Watch.