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Testimony: H.S.H.A.


Name:  H.S.H.A.
Age:  16
Date:  10 October 2022
Location:  Al Mazra'a Asharqiya, West Bank
Accusation:  Throwing stones

On 10 October 2022, a 16-year-old minor from Al Mazra'a Asharqiya was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 8:00 p.m. and accused of throwing stones. He reports ill treatment. He reports consulting with a lawyer but not being informed of his right to silence by the interrogator. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison and fined NIS 1,500. 

I was with my friends on a hill along Route 60 at around 8:00 p.m. when we were suddenly ambushed by two Israeli soldiers. One of them shot live bullets in the air and then aimed his gun at me. I was terrified. He told me to raise my hands up and then told me to lie down on the ground. 
A few minutes later they were joined by about 10 more soldiers. One of the soldiers swore at me calling me "a son of a whore" and then he kicked and slapped me. He kicked me hard on my right leg and caused me a lot of pain. 
Then one of the soldiers tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie which was tight and painful. My hands swelled and the tie left marks on my wrists for days. I was also blindfolded and left on the ground for about two hours.
Then I was taken to the back of a military jeep where I sat on the metal floor. Soldiers inside the jeep made fun of me and continued to swear. I was taken to a military base where I was left in a courtyard with about 50 soldiers who made fun of me and swore at me and my religion. I was left there until around 6:00 a.m. The soldiers did not allow me to sleep and kicked me to wake me up whenever I fell asleep. 
At around 6:00 a.m. I was taken to the police station in Binyamin settlement where I was left in a room for about six hours. I pleaded with the soldiers to allow me to use the toilet and to bring me some water but they refused. Then I was taken for interrogation. 
The interrogator removed the blindfold but kept me tied. He was in civilian clothes and had a camera in the room. He did not inform me of my right to silence. He called a lawyer for me and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me to tell the interrogator what had happened and told me not to worry. We spoke for about three minutes and the interrogator was listening because he turned the speaker phone on. 
After speaking to the lawyer the interrogator wanted to know what I was doing in the area where I was arrested and whether someone had sent me to throw stones at settler cars. I told him I was with my friends on the hill. He wanted to know whose idea it was and whether we came by car.
He was mostly aggressive and when I told him I had not done anything wrong he threatened to arrest my parents and to lock me up in prison for a long time. He yelled at me for about an hour and at the end he asked me to sign documents written in Hebrew and I signed. Then I was taken into another room while my friends were interrogated.
At around 7:00 p.m. I was taken to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem, where I was strip searched before being taken into section 13, where I had my first meal in 24 hours. 
The following day I had a military court hearing. My brother and cousin attended and my detention was extended.  
Ten days later I was taken for another interrogation. I was allowed to speak to a lawyer before the interrogation. He gave me a general idea about what might happen to me during the interrogation. The interrogator was listening to the call that lasted about three minutes.
After speaking to the lawyer the interrogator informed me of my right to silence. He had a camera and a voice recorder in the room. He questioned me for about an hour about the same suspicions. I repeated the same answers. Then he asked me to sign a document written in Arabic. I refused to read or sign the document because the other prisoners at Ofer warned me against signing any documents except in the presence of a lawyer.
I had about eight military court hearings. My last hearing was about two months before I was released. During that hearing I was sentenced in a plea bargain to six months in prison and fined NIS 1,500. I also received a suspended sentence of six months in prison suspended for three years. My lawyer advised me to plead guilty to throwing stones at the main road used by settlers in return for a reduced sentence. It was tough for me to confess to something I did not done especially when the prosecutor did not have any evidence against me.
I spent my prison sentence at Ofer. I had an early release hearing and my time in prison was reduced to four months. 
In prison I walked in the courtyard to keep fit and I chatted to the other prisoners and played table tennis. We were about 66 minors in the section; 15 of who had spent time in solitary confinement. I found it hard to be away from my family and friends. I attended classes in Arabic, Hebrew and mathematics. My parents visited me once and I was allowed to call home twice a week from a telephone provided by the prison authorities. 
I was released on 6 February 2023 at a checkpoint near Tulkarem after the early release hearing. My parents were not expecting me to be released on that date so they were not there to take me home. I took a lift with someone to a nearby village and then my family picked me up from there and took me home. I arrived home in the evening.