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Home » Children »

Testimony: I.R.B.Z.

 

Name:  I.R.B.Z.
Age:  16
Date:  8 December 2020
Location:  Beit Ummar, West Bank
Accusation:  Throwing stones

On 8 December 2020, a 16-year-old minor from Beit Ummar was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 3:30 a.m. He reports briefly consulting with a lawyer over the phone prior to interrogation and being informed of his right to silence. 

I woke up at around 3:30 a.m. to the sound of loud banging at our front door. I knew it was bad news so I stayed in bed. My father rushed to the door and managed to open it before it was broken down. About 15 Israeli soldiers came into our home. They searched my parents’ bedroom and then the area military commander came to my room to wake me up. He told me to get up then took a couple of pictures of me and then left me in the room with two soldiers. 
 
Then, without giving my parents any documents, they took me outside where they tied my hands to the front with one plastic tie which was not painful. I was also blindfolded. I was then taken to a troop carrier where the soldiers made me sit on the metal floor between the their feet. Inside the troop carrier a soldier kicked me.
 
Then they drove to my cousin’s house and arrested him too. Then we were both taken to the police station in Etzion settlement. First, they made me sit on the ground by the gate to the settlement, then, at around 7:30 a.m., I was taken for interrogation.
 
The interrogator removed the blindfold but kept me tied. He phoned a lawyer for me and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me to be strong and not to confess. The interrogator was listening to the conversation which lasted less than a minute.
 
Then the interrogator told me if I wanted I could remain silent but if I did, it would work against me. I understood that to mean it was in my interest to speak. Then he accused me of throwing stones at soldiers and gave me a specific date. He told me the incident took place on 11 November 2020. I denied the accusation.
 
Then he told me it did not matter whether I confessed or not because he was going to lock me up in prison either way. He told me I was going to waste the best years of my life in prison but he told me that he would help me if I confessed. Then he told me he had strong evidence against me and that my cousin had confessed against me. Then he showed me video footage and some photographs of clashes with soldiers. I continued to deny the accusation.
 
He questioned me for about 45 minutes. At the end of the interrogation he asked me to sign a document written in Hebrew but I refused to sign.
 
After the interrogation I was taken to Huwwara military base where I was strip searched before being taken to a room together with my cousin. The room was very small, about 1 x2 meters, too small for the two of us. It had one window but they shut it and turned a dim light on. My cousin and I were left in the room for 16 days. It was very difficult and we got very bored and sick of each other with nothing to do. During this time, I had three military court hearings via video link which my parents attended except for the first one.
 
Sixteen days later I was transferred to the quarantine section at Megiddo prison, inside Israel. I was strip searched and left there for eight days. Then the prison authorities suspected I was sick with COVID-19 because another prisoner in the same room tested positive. They transferred me to another detention centre in the North, I am not sure exactly where, possibly on the border with Lebanon. I was tested three times for the Corona Virus and luckily all three tests were negative. I was then transferred back to the quarantine section at Megiddo.
 
My last military court hearing was on 11 January 2021, which was the same day that I was released. I was sentenced in a plea bargain and the military judge told me they were satisfied with the time I had already spent in custody. My parents did not have to pay any fines but my father had to sign a bond of NIS 2,000 which he would have to pay if I was arrested again. I was also given a suspended sentence of three months in prison valid for three years. I accepted the deal because I wanted to go home.
 
I was released at Al Jalama checkpoint on 11 January 2021 and I went home with my father. I arrived home at 9:30 p.m.