|Date:||13 January 2020|
|Location:||Beit Fajjar, West Bank|
|Accustion:||Throwing Molotov cocktail|
On 13 January 2020, a 15-year-old minor from Beit Fajjar was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 3:00 a.m. He reports being interrogated multiple times without always being informed of his legal rights prior to each interrogation.
I woke up at around 3:00 a.m. to the sound of a loud explosion at our front door. I then heard the sound of banging and smashing of windows. My father went to see who it was and he found lots of Israeli soldiers inside our house. They had blown open our front door. We were all terrified especially my younger brothers. About 10 soldiers, some wearing masks, were inside our home with many more outside.
Three soldiers came to my bedroom and dragged me to the living room where they tied my hands behind my back with two plastic ties. They tightened them hard and I was in severe pain. I lost sensation in my hands and I was scared that it would be irreversible. I remained tied for one whole day. Then the soldiers blindfolded me and took me outside without any explanation. They did not allow me to say good bye to my parents and did not give us any documents.
Outside the house some soldiers beat me all over my body and swore at me. When I swore back at them they beat me harder. Then I was taken to the back of a troop carrier where I sat on the metal floor before being taken to the police station in Etzion settlement. On arrival at Etzion I was taken to a shipping container and given a medical examination. At around 11:00 a.m. I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator removed the blindfold but kept me tied. He wore civilian clothes and was overweight. As soon as I entered the room he accused me of causing trouble and throwing a Molotov cocktail at the gate of Migdal Oz settlement near my village. I denied the accusation. Then he told me my friends had confessed against me and showed me video footage. I continued to deny the accusation.
The interrogator then threatened to revoke my father’s permit and to summon my brothers to the police station if I did not confess. He thumped the table aggressively to pressure me to confess but I did not. About half way through the interrogation he phoned a lawyer for me. The lawyer told me not to worry and not to speak. The interrogator was not listening to the conversation which lasted about 30 seconds. The interrogator did not inform me of my right to silence. He did show me a document written in Hebrew and asked me to sign it but I refused to sign.
I was interrogated five more times before I was taken to Ofer prison. Each interrogation lasted for about an hour and I was not informed of my rights nor was I allowed to speak to a lawyer again. I also refused to sign documents written in Hebrew. I arrived at Ofer at around midnight. I was searched with my clothes on before being taken to section 13.
The following day I had a military court hearing. My parents did not attend because they were not informed. My lawyer told me the prosecutor presented a secret file against me but this was later dismissed. My detention was extended and the hearing was adjourned. After the court hearing I was taken to a cell where I was strip searched and left there for about four hours. Then I was taken back to Ofer where I was searched again with my clothes on.
Two days later I was taken to the police station in Kiryat Arba settlement for another interrogation. The interrogator allowed me to speak to a lawyer before he started to interrogate me. The lawyer told me not to worry and not to confess and to remain silent. The conversation lasted for about a minute and the interrogator was not listening. Then the interrogator started to question me without informing me of my right to silence.
The interrogator made the same accusation. When I denied the accusation, he raised his voice at me and told me I had to confess but I did not. He questioned me for about an hour and did not ask me to sign any documents. Then I was taken back to Ofer.
A few days later I was taken for another interrogation at Kiryat Arba. The interrogator did not inform me of my rights and did not arrange for me to speak to a lawyer. He was aggressive and questioned me for about 30 minutes. At the end I was tired and I confessed to throwing two stones which missed. I thought it was in my interest to confess to a minor offence like throwing stones without hitting the target rather than be convicted of a more serious offence. At the end the interrogator showed me a document written in Arabic and asked me to sign it and I did because it was identical to what I had told him. Then I was taken back to Ofer.
The following day I was taken for another interrogation, this time by an intelligence officer. He did not inform me of my rights and did not allow me to speak to a lawyer. He questioned me for about 15 minutes and showed me video footage of clashes with soldiers. He wanted to know who my friends were. He did not ask me to sign any documents and after the interrogation I was taken back to Ofer.
I had about 20 military court hearings, mostly via video link because of COVID-19. At the last one, which was in May 2020, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to 14 months in prison and fined NIS 3,000. I was also given a suspended sentence of 12 months suspended for three years. In the plea bargain I had to confess to throwing a Molotov cocktail at the settlement gate. I accepted the plea bargain because otherwise I was facing three years in prison.
I spent two months at Ofer prison and then I was transferred to Damoun prison inside Israel. In prison I had two family visits only because of COVOD-19 but I was allowed to make phone calls three times a week. I called from a pay phone provided by the prison authorities and I had to pay for it myself. In prison I attended classes in Arabic, Hebrew and mathematics.
I was released at Al Jalama checkpoint on 14 February 2021 and I went home with my parents, my two uncles and my cousins. I arrived home at around 10:00 p.m. I was very happy to be home. Now I want to focus on my school work because I want to study to be a mechanic.