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Testimony: Y.A.Y.A.


Name: Y.A.Y.A.
Age: 17
Date: 29 April 2019
Location: Askar, West Bank
Accusation: Pipe bombs

On 29 April 2019, a 17-year-old minor from Askar refugee camp was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 3:00 a.m. He reports being interrogated multiple times without always being informed of his legal rights and being held in solitary confinement for 19 days.

My father woke me up at around 3:00 a.m. and told me Israeli soldiers were in our home asking for me. About 30 soldiers entered our house and scared all of us, especially my 4-year-old sister. 
The Commander checked our identity cards and when he checked mine he immediately took me aside and told me to “hand over the weapons”. I told him I had no weapons. Then the Commander told my father I would be taken away for two days for questioning and then he would bring me back. He told my father I was a trouble maker. He did not give my father any documents. 
Then a soldier tied my hands behind my back with three plastic ties: one on each wrist and another connecting the two. He tightened them hard and caused me a lot of pain. Then the soldiers led me towards the military jeeps on the street and blindfolded me just before they put me in the back of one of the jeeps. They made me sit on the metal floor of the jeep. Inside the jeep I sat between the soldiers’ legs. They beat me on my shoulder and waist. I was in pain. 
The jeep drove me to Huwwara military base where I was strip searched. After being searched I was taken to a shipping container where I waited until 5:00 a.m. At one point a soldier came into the container and swore at me. Then he told me he was going to make me regret my actions. 
Later than morning I was taken to Megiddo prison, inside Israel, where I was strip searched again before being put in the minors’ section. Five days later I was taken for interrogation at Salem.
The interrogator was in civilian clothes and had a camera in the room. He told me I had the right to consult with a lawyer. He then appeared to phone a lawyer and then told me there was no answer. Then he told me I had the right to remain silent but warned me that remaining silent would not serve my interests. 
The interrogator then asked me about pipe bombs and accused me of throwing stones. He mentioned dates back in 2017 and showed me photographs. I denied the accusations. He questioned me for about 90 minutes and I continued to deny the accusation. He threatened to arrest my father if I did not confess. Then he told me I could call my father but warned me if I told my father where I was or that I was being interrogated about he was going to hang up. He then called my father and I spoke to him. 
After the interrogation I was taken to Ofer prison. I had a military court hearing on 2 May 2019. My detention was extended and the hearing was adjourned. My father did not attend the first hearing. 
About a week later I was taken for another interrogation in Ashkelon, inside Israel. This interrogator did not call a lawyer for me but gave me a document written in both Hebrew and Arabic informing me of my rights.
The interrogator wanted to know where I got the pipe bombs from and how I used them. He wanted to know the distance between me and the military jeep he alleged I threw the pipe bombs at. I told him I did not throw pipe bombs at jeeps and I denied the accusation. The interrogator became angry when I denied the accusation. He thumped the table aggressively and raised his voice at me urging me to confess. 
After the interrogation I was taken to a small cell measuring a few square metres. It did not have any windows and the light was on all the time. It had a bag on the floor similar to the bags that flour comes in. It was scratchy and I could not sit or sleep on it. There was nothing else in the cell, no pillow or mattress. I spent 19 days in the cell by myself. During this time I was interrogated multiple times. I did not know whether it was day or night and I could not sleep. I felt I was going crazy and I thought of my family the whole time. 
I was probably interrogated 10 or 11 times over the period of 19 days. I was not informed of my rights and I did not speak to a lawyer. At the last interrogation session I confessed because I felt I could take it no more, I was choking. When I confessed the interrogator made me sign a document in Arabic.
During this time I had about 15 military court hearings. at the last one, which was on 7 January 2020, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to 10 months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I was also given a suspended sentence of five months valid for five years. I accepted the plea bargain because I was released on the same day having already served the time.
I spent one week of my detention at Ofer and then I was transferred to Megiddo prison, inside Israel. My parents visited me five times. I was released on 7 January 2020 at Al Jalama checkpoint. I went home with my father; we arrived home at 8:00 p.m. 
The most difficult part of this whole experience was the first few hours of arrest. Spending time in solitary confinement in a small cell was also very difficult. I felt I had lost my mind and was willing to do anything to put an end to it. I left school before my arrest; now I want to look for a job to help support my family.