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Testimony: T.Z.A.A.


Name: T.Z.A.A.
Age: 16
Date: 22 February 2021
Location: Dheisheh camp, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones

On 22 February 2021, a 16-year-old minor from Dheisheh refugee camp was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 4:00 a.m. He reports being initially questioned by a soldier without being informed of his legal rights before being transferred to Al Mascobiyyeh interrogation centre in Jerusalem.

Israeli soldiers raided our home at around 4:00 a.m. They did not knock at the door or wait for us to open, they just broke in. A soldier asked to see our identity cards and when I showed him mine he told me I was under arrest. He also told me to hand over my mobile phone. He did not tell me why I was under arrest. He gave my mother a document filled out in Hebrew. 
A soldier tied my hands behind my back with two plastic ties on top of each other. The ties were not tight. The soldiers remained in our home for about five minutes and then took me outside where a soldier blindfolded me and then walked me to a nearby refugee camp.
When we arrived at the camp I was put in a military jeep where I sat on the metal floor. The jeep drove me to the police station in Etzion settlement. We arrived at Etzion at around 6:30 a.m. I was left on some steps outside for about 40 minutes. During this time the area commander came and asked me some general questions without informing me of any rights. 
About 40 minutes later I was taken to Al Mascobiyeh police station in Jerusalem where I was strip searched before being put in a room. I spent 48 days in the room with two other detainees. During this time I was questioned once.
The interrogator did not inform me of my right to silence but he phoned a lawyer before he questioned me and allowed me to speak to him. I spoke to the lawyer for a few minutes and the interrogator left the room during the conversation. The lawyer advised me to remain silent and told me not to worry.  
The interrogator told me there were confessions against me by my friends and that my file was ready. He accused me of throwing stones and of some more serious allegations. He showed me some photographic evidence which he claimed was enough to convict me. I denied the accusations. I was questioned on and off throughout the day and I continued to deny the accusations. The interrogator was calm and did not threaten or physically abuse me. At the end of the interrogation he asked me to sign some documents written in Hebrew and told me the documents contained the confessions by my friends. He then asked me to sign the documents and I did.
Two days after my arrest I had a military court hearing which was conducted via video link. My mother attended.  My detention was extended and the hearing was adjourned. 
I attended about eight military court hearings and at the last one, which was on 8 May 2021, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to six months and one day in prison and I also received a suspended sentence of eight months in prison suspended for three years. As part of the deal my family will have to pay NIS 10,000 if I am arrested again in the next three years. I accepted the plea bargain because originally the prosecutor wanted to lock me up in prison for 24 months so six months was very appealing.
After spending 48 days at Al Mascobiyeh I was transferred to Ofer prison. I was strip searched before being taken to section 13. I spent the rest of my prison sentence at Ofer where I exercised and chatted to the other detainees. I also spent a lot of time sleeping and watching television. I did not have any family visits because of the Corona Virus regulations but I was allowed to phone my family once every two weeks for about 10 minutes. The telephone was monitored. 
I was released early at Ofer checkpoint on 8 June 2021. I waited a short while for my uncle and older brother to arrive and then we all went home. I arrived home at around 5:00 p.m.