Testimony - B.T.
|Date of incident:||18 February 2014|
|Location:||An Nabi Saleh, West Bank|
On 18 February 2014, a 15-year-old boy from An Nabi Saleh, in the West Bank, is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 1:30 a.m.
“I woke up to the sound of loud banging at our front door. I couldn’t comprehend what was going on and thought I was dreaming. I think it was around 1:30 a.m. Then my mother came and told me to stay in bed because Israeli soldiers were at the door. When my father opened the door I heard one of the soldiers tell him to wake everybody in the house. Minutes later my father told me to come out because the soldiers wanted to photograph me. I went to the living room and saw lots of soldiers. One of the soldiers took a photograph of me and then flipped through a photo album he had with him comparing the photo he took with the photos in the album. The soldier then told me he found three photographs that matched my image but didn’t show them to me or to my parents. I heard them tell my father they wanted to take me for five minutes for questioning and would bring me back. They didn’t have any written documents and didn’t explain what they were going to question me about.”
“The soldiers dragged me outside to the square where a military jeep was waiting. They made me stand behind the jeep so that my parents couldn’t see me. Then they beat me and kicked me in my stomach and on my legs. I was in pain. Then they pulled my hat down to cover my face and tied my hands to the front with three plastic ties: one on each wrist and one connecting them. The ties were not painful. They also shackled my legs with metal chains. They put me on a seat in the back of the jeep which drove to the watchtower at the entrance to the village. On the way a soldier kicked me on my legs. At the watch tower they cut off the plastic ties and replaced them with metal handcuffs. It was around 2:00 a.m. I could hear that other people from the village had also been arrested.”
“I was kept in the watchtower until 6:00 a.m. when the soldiers put me in a jeep and took me to the police station in Binyamin settlement. The jeep went round and round and stopped on the way before it arrived at Binyamin. The drive took about four hours. They took me to a room where I waited. A soldier walked in and told me they were going to bring a lawyer to talk to me and to give me advice. An Israeli lawyer, who spoke Arabic, came and told me he was representing me. He told me to remain silent, and told me not to say anything if the interrogator shows me pictures. When the lawyer left I was taken to the interrogation room.”
“There were four people in the interrogation room; three interrogators and one soldier. I couldn’t tell if there was a camera in the room. They pulled my hat off my face but kept me handcuffed and shackled. The interrogator said his name was Munther. He showed me three photos and pointed to a person in the photos and asked me if that person was me. I told him it wasn’t me. He became angry. Then he showed me more photos and asked me to tell him who the other people were. I told him I didn’t know them. Then he pulled a gun out of his pocket and put it on the table in front of him. He started to fiddle with the gun. He asked me again whether I knew the people in the photos. Again, I told him I didn’t. He told me my father was waiting outside and if I told him who these people were he would send me home with my father. I told him I didn’t want to go home because I knew he wasn’t going to send me home no matter what. The interrogation lasted for over an hour. At one point the interrogator started to pace in the room. In the end he showed me a document written in Hebrew and asked me to sign it but I refused. I told him I wasn’t going to sign anything in Hebrew because I didn’t trust that it was accurate. Then a soldier came and took me back to the waiting room. I wasn’t given any food or drink, but I was allowed to use the bathroom.”
“In the evening, at around 6:00 p.m., they blindfolded me and put me in a white vehicle which drove to my village. I knew the time because I heard the call to prayer. I could see from under the blindfold that the vehicle was driving in the village, near the petrol station. I thought they were going to release me but I was wrong. They vehicle drove out of the village and I was taken to Ofer prison. I got there around 11:00 p.m. At Ofer they made me take off all my clothes, including my underwear, for a security check. They made me crouch a couple of times while naked. Then they gave me prison clothes and took me to Section 13 where there were other children my age. The prisoners made me some food because I was very hungry. I hadn’t eaten for 24 hours. I ate three sandwiches and went to bed at around 3:00 a.m. At 6:00 a.m. I was woken up and told I had a hearing in the military court.”
“I waited in the waiting room outside the court for about seven hours. I was shackled the whole time. My parents were in court. I was very happy to see them but I wasn’t allowed to speak to them. I didn’t understand much of what was going on in court. There was an interpreter who spoke Arabic but he only translated one out of every 10 words. His translation didn’t make any sense to me. The court hearing was adjourned. All in all I had four court hearings and my parents attended all of them. I didn’t understand a lot but I think they were going to make my parents pay 7,500 shekels to have me released. In the end the lawyer reduced the amount to 2,500 shekels.”
“On Monday, 24 February 2014, I was taken to the military court at 3:00 p.m. where I was told I was going to be released. I accepted a plea bargain and I was given a suspended sentence of three months for two years. I went home with my parents and I arrived home at around 11:00 p.m. It was boring in prison, there wasn’t much to do, but the most difficult part of it all was waiting for long hours outside court with shackles around my ankles. I am worried about my suspended sentence; when I see soldiers in the village I go home to avoid them.”