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Home » Children »

Testimony: R.F.

Name: R.F.
Age: 17 years
Date of incident: 8 July 2013
Location: Al 'Arrub refugee camp, West Bank
Accusation: Molotovs cocktails/membership
                                                    
On 8 July 2013, a 17-year-old boy from the Al 'Arrub refugee camp, near Bethlehem, is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 12:30 a.m. and accused of throwing Molotov cocktails and membership of a banned organisation.
 
“My mother woke me up at around 12:30 a.m. on 8 July and told me Israeli soldiers were surrounding our house. I got up and dressed. Soon a group of soldiers had climbed onto the roof using ladders and another group were about to break in the front door. My father rushed downstairs to open up. About 10- soldiers entered the house and some were masked. One soldier asked for my I.D. card and as soon as I was identified I was dragged out of the house without being allowed to say goodbye to my father. I did manage to give my mother a quick hug. Nobody told us why I was being detained or where I was being taken.”
 
“At the door my hands were painfully tied to the back with three plastic ties, two around each wrist and one connecting the two. I was also blindfolded. Once outside the soldiers started shooting tear gas and rubber bullets although there was no one on the street and there was nothing happening. I was made to run to the entrance of the camp and because I was tied and blindfolded I fell on the ground. When we arrived at the entrance I was made to kneel on gravel, which was painful. Meanwhile, the soldiers conducted more arrests and then took all the detainees to the Israeli military watchtower at the entrance to the refugee camp where we waited for about 30 minutes. I was then put in a military vehicle and made to sit on the metal floor. Inside the vehicle I was slapped and sworn at.”
 
“The jeep drove for about 90 minutes; frequently stopping to let soldiers off. We were taken to Etzion settlement and on arrival I was made to sit on the ground with a group of other young men before being taken for a medical examination. The doctor removed the ties and the blindfold and asked me some questions. Then I was blindfolded and tied again and waited for about 30 minutes before being interrogated.”
 
“I was alone with the interrogator who didn’t introduce himself. He did not tell me that I had any rights and I was not asked whether I wanted to speak to a lawyer. The interrogator began to question me whilst I was still blindfolded and tied. This made me scared. I asked him to remove the blindfold and he did. He told me other people had confessed that I threw a Molotov cocktail without specifying a date and that I belonged to Hamas. When I denied the accusations he threatened to beat me and to put me in a stress position, but I didn’t confess. The interrogation lasted about 20 minutes and then I was taken to another room where I waited for about 10 minutes, before I was taken to see a second interrogator.”
 
“The second interrogator introduced himself as Daoud. He was tall and blond and called me in saying “come in commander”. Once inside the room he advised me to confess. He didn’t tell me I had any rights, but he did say that there were witnesses and documentary evidence against me. He also threatened to beat me and to put me in a stress position if I didn’t confess. He told me it was in my interest to confess. He also showed me pictures of young men and boys taken during clashes with soldiers and asked me to identify them. I refused. The interrogation with Daoud lasted for about one hour. He did not beat me.”
 
“After Daoud had finished with me I was taken to a police interrogator who told me I was accused of being a member of Hamas. I denied the accusation. He also accused me of throwing a Molotov cocktail and showed me pictures of young men and asked me to identify them. The policeman had a tape recorder and a camera in the room. The interrogation with the policeman lasted for about one hour and I denied all accusations. At the end of the interrogation I was shown a document written in Hebrew and was asked to sign it, which I did. I don’t know what it contained. I was then taken to a prison cell. I was not given anything to eat or drink.”
 
“At around 11:00 p.m. I was transferred to Ofer prison. On the way to Ofer I was handcuffed with metal handcuffs and I sat on the seat. I was with three other boys. At Ofer I was left in the military vehicle for three hours before I was strip searched. The four of us stayed in a cell together and in the morning we were taken to cell number 13 with other boys our age.”
 
“Two days later I was taken to Ofer military court. There was no lawyer for meand my family didn’t come because they were not informed. The court hearing was adjourned. The second hearing was on the 18th and that was when I saw a lawyer for the first time. My family was also there. The hearing was adjourned again. All in all I had six court hearings. On the sixth hearing, and based on testimonies from soldiers and collaborators, I was offered a plea bargain of six months in jail and a fine of 2,000 shekels which my lawyer advised me to accept.”
 
“I spent most of my prison time in Ofer but on 20 November 2013 I was transferred to Hashoron prison inside Israel. My parents were denied permits to visit me in prison for security reasons, so my two younger sisters, aged 12 and 13, visited me three times in Ofer and once in Hasharon. I was very happy to see them and to catch up with news from the camp. In prison I took Hebrew, Arabic and Mathematics lessons but I missed my year at school and I will have to repeat it.”

“I was released at mid-day, on 22 December 2013, at Al-Jalameh checkpoint, up north. My parents were not informed of my release so they were not there to take me home. I took a taxi home and arrived late in the evening. Everybody was very happy to see me and my mother was in tears. The following day she made me my favourite dish, spicy chicken in the oven.”