|Date:||11 September 2021|
|Location:||Al 'Arrub camp, West Bank|
On 11 September 2021, a 16-year-old minor from Al 'Arrub refugee camp was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 4:00 p.m. during clashes and accused of throwing stones. He reports ill treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He was sentenced to 4.5 months and fined NIS 4,000. He also received a suspended sentence.
I was trying to get home from Hebron but I couldn’t because there were clashes in the area with Israeli soldiers. It was around 4.00 p.m. Instead, I went to my friend’s house to wait until things calmed down. My friend and I went to the roof to have a look when all of a sudden three soldiers came up to the roof and accused us of throwing stones at them. One of the soldiers searched me and looked at my hands to see if there were traces of dirt.
Then my friend’s brothers showed up and started to shout at the soldiers. One of the soldiers pushed my friend down the stairs and a fist fight broke out between the soldiers and the brothers. The soldiers were swearing and pushed us down the stairs. On the way down my friend’s mother opened the door to her apartment and I ran inside. The soldiers banged at the door and nearly broke it down so I decided to come out because I wanted to spare my friend’s mother the distress.
As soon as I opened the door a soldier grabbed me and dragged me down the remainder of the stairs. He wanted to take me out into the street but young boys were hurling stones at us and he could not move. Then the soldier used me as a human shield to protect himself from the stones. I was hit by two stones on my chest. I managed to free myself from the soldier and went back into the building. Then the soldier followed me, aimed his gun at me and threatened to shoot me if I did not come out.
I was terrified and so came back out and the soldier and I crossed the street while young boys hurled stones at us. The soldier and I tripped and fell on top of each other. We got up and walked a short distance and another group of about 15 soldiers came and started to beat me all over my body. They punched and kicked me and banged my head against a concrete wall.
The soldiers led me cross the street to a military watchtower. One of the soldiers pushed me against concrete block and made me sit down on the ground. He then started to swear at me calling me "a fucker son of a whore". Then he told me to look him in the eye and then he threatened to turn me into a “shahid” by the end of the day.
I was left by the watchtower for about 30 minutes. Then a soldier tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie which was very tight and painful. It left marks on my wrists for days. He also blindfolded me. Then a group of soldiers who were nearby started to kick and slap me while tied and blindfolded. When a soldier started to swear at me I could not take it anymore and I swore back at him. He then he struck me hard on my leg with the back of his gun.
At around 5:00 p.m. the area commander came by and accused me of throwing stones at soldiers. He told me he had video footage as evidence. I denied the accusation and told him I did not throw stones at soldiers. He questioned me without informing me of my rights. He told me all would be revealed by the intelligence officer during the interrogation.
At around 9:00 p.m. I was put in a troop carrier where I sat on a seat. I was taken to the nearby settlement of Bitar Illit where I was left in an office for about three hours. Several soldiers were guarding me the whole time. Each time I fell asleep the soldiers slapped me and made fun of me to wake me up. I was not given any food or drink but I was allowed to use the toilet. At around 4:00 a.m. I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator removed the blindfold but kept me tied. He did not allow me to speak to a lawyer and did not inform me of my right to remain silent. He spoke to me via an interpreter because he did not speak Arabic. He accused me of throwing stones at soldiers and claimed he had evidence against me He told me the soldiers took a video of the incident. Then he showed me the video which showed me and my friend on the roof not doing anything. I denied the accusation and told him the video did not show me throwing stones. Then he claimed he had another video which showed me throwing stones but he never played that video to me and I continued to deny the accusation.
Then he wanted to know if I had been arrested in the past and whether I had brothers in prison. Then he told me to phone my father and ask him to appoint me a lawyer because I was going to be taken to the military court the following morning. He questioned me for about one-and-a-half hours and threatened to lock me up in prison if I did not confess. He also told me he would send me home if I confessed. When I denied the accusation, he told me I had to confess against my friend because he had confessed against me. I did not believe him and told him neither me nor my friend threw stones at soldiers.
At the end of the interrogation I was shown a document written in Hebrew and asked me to sign it but I refused to sign something I did not understand. I asked him to translate it for me but he told me there was no need; I just had to sign but I refused to sign. Then the soldier who was translating signed the document.
Then I was taken into another room where they took my fingerprints and my photograph. Then I was taken to the police station in Etzion settlement. On the way the soldiers gave me a sandwich and some chocolate milk. At Etzion I was strip searched and asked to crouch up and down while naked which I found humiliating and embarrassing. Then I was taken to a cell together with three other boys. I was left there for 13 days.
My first military court hearing was a week after my arrest. It was conducted on video and my parents were not informed and did not attend. My detention was extended. During the 13 days at Etzion I had two more court hearings. Then I was transferred to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem, where I was strip searched again before being taken into the quarantine section where I spent four days before I was transferred to section 13.
I had about 12 military court hearings and at the last one, which was a day before I was released, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to four-and-a-half months in prison and fined NIS 4,000. I was also given another 12 months in prison suspended for five years. I accepted the plea bargain because I wanted to go home the following day.
In prison I lifted weights and attended classes in Hebrew and Arabic. I had two family visits and I was allowed to make phone calls from a phone provided by the prison authorities once every 14 days. I was released at Al Jib checkpoint on 13 January 2022, and I arrived home at around 1:30 a.m. I am a bit worried about my school work because I lost a whole semester in prison.