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Testimony: Z.A.M.M.


Name: Z.A.M.M.
Age: 15
Date: 22 September 2021
Location: Al Jalazun, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones/Molotov cocktail

On 22 September 2021, a 15-year-old minor from Al Jalazun refugee camp was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 3:30 a.m. He reports being interrogated without first consulting with a lawyer in accordance with his right under military law. 

Israeli soldiers broke open our front door at around 3:30 a.m. and came straight into my bedroom. When I woke up I found the soldiers standing over my head. About 25 soldiers entered our home. 
One of the soldiers told me to stay in my bedroom while they searched my brother’s apartment in the same building. They also broke open his front door. Then another soldier called my name and told me to get ready because I was under arrest. I don’t know whether they gave my parents any documents.
Once I was dressed a soldier took me outside and tied my hands to the front with one plastic tie which was tight and painful. It left marks on my wrists for a week. Then he slapped me before taking me to the back of a jeep where I was made to sit on the metal floor. Inside the jeep a soldier struck me with the back of his gun on my back while another soldier laughed and made fun of me. Inside the jeep a soldier also blindfolded me and swore at me. 
First I was taken to the settlement of Bet El where they sat me down for a short while and asked me for my name. Then they took me to a police jeep which took me to a cell. I was left on the floor for about four hours. Soldiers who passed by kicked and slapped me and swore at me. They did not allow me to use a toilet. I was in the cell with another boy and I finally fell asleep. At around 10:00 a.m. a soldier woke me up and told me it was my turn to be interrogated.
I was searched with my clothes on and then I was taken to another room where I sat on the floor. The soldiers did not allow me to sit on a chair. At around 5:00 p.m. a soldier removed the blindfold and I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator wore civilian clothes and had a camera and a voice recorder. He did not allow me to speak to a lawyer but told me I had the right to remain silent. He showed me photographs and video footage of clashes with soldiers and accused me of taking part. He gave me two dates in 2020 and 2021 and accused me of throwing stones and a Molotov cocktail. I denied the accusations.
The interrogator was calm and did not shout at me but he insisted I had to confess. He questioned me for about two hours and at the end I confessed to throwing a Molotov cocktail and fire crackers at the settlement. I was tired and wanted to get out of there. Then the interrogator asked me to sign a document written in Hebrew and I signed without understanding anything. Then they took my photograph and fingerprints and then took me to Ofer prison.
At Ofer I was strip searched before being taken to a small cell with another boy. The cell measured about 2.5 x 2.5 meters without any windows and with a toilet in the room. I was left there one whole day and then I was taken to the quarantine section where I stayed for 11 days.
The following day I had my first military court hearing which was on zoom on a mobile phone. I did not understand anything. The whole thing lasted about two minutes and my parents were not informed and so were not there. My detention was extended. 
I had about 20 hearings. On 23 January 2022, about a month before I was released, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to eight months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I was also given another 10 months in prison suspended for three years. I accepted the plea bargain because my lawyer told me the military judge would give me a higher sentence if I rejected it. 
After spending 11 days at the quarantine section I was strip searched again before being transferred to the minors’ section where I served the rest of my sentence. My parents visited me seven times and I sometimes called home from a telephone provided by the prison authorities. In prison I lifted weights and attended classes in Arabic, Hebrew and mathematics. 
I was released at Ofer on 22 February 2022 and I went home with my parents and my friends. I arrived home at around 11:00 p.m. I will not go back to school because I missed a lot of school days while in prison. I now work at a wedding hall.