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Testimony: M.A.A.I.


Name:  M.A.A.I.
Age:  17
Date:  1 March 2019
Location:  Askar, West Bank
Accusation:  Throwing Molotov cocktails

On 1 March 2019, a 17-year-old youth from Askar refugee camp is arrested by Israeli soldiers during clashes at noon. He reports being informed of his right to silence but not consulting with a lawyer prior to interrogation.

Clashes erupted near the settlement of Elon Moreh at around noon when an Israeli military jeep got stuck in the mud and some boys started to throw stones at it. Then I was caught by surprise when a group of soldiers ambushed me and my friends in an olive grove. 
I ran as fast as I could but soldiers aimed their guns at me and ordered me to stop. About 16 soldiers surrounded me and pushed me to the ground. One soldier tied my hands with three plastic ties: one on each wrist and another connecting the two. One of the ties was very tight and caused me a lot of pain and left marks on my wrist for a long time. Then he took a picture of me on his mobile phone before blindfolding me.
After I was blindfolded I was led towards the nearby settlement. By the settlement fence a soldier approached me and asked me who had sent me and when I told him I was not sent by anyone he slapped me and threatened to “break my bones”.
I was then taken to the back of a military jeep where I sat on a seat. The jeep took me to Huwwara military base near Nablus. At Huwwara I was examined by a doctor who removed the ties and the blindfold during the examination. Then I was taken back jeep which took me to the police station in Ariel settlement.
On arrival at Ariel I was taken to a room where I sat on a chair for about six hours, tied and blindfolded. I was given some food and I was allowed to use the toilet but I could not sleep. Then I was taken for interrogation. It was around 7:00 p.m.
The interrogator was a policeman. He had a camera and a voice recorder and spoke to me via an interpreter. He removed the ties and the blindfold and asked me whether I wanted to speak to a lawyer and I told him I did not. He then told me I had the right to remain silent. Then he wanted to know who threw a Molotov cocktail towards the settlement and I denied that I did. He was calm the whole time and questioned me for about five minutes. Then he sent me back to the room where I was waiting earlier. I was left there until he finished interrogating all the other boys.
Later I was interrogated again by the same policeman. He told me I was the only one left so it must have been me who threw the Molotov cocktail. He asked me if I threw stones regularly and if I had any weapons. I denied everything. This lasted for about 15 minutes and he was calm.
Then he showed me documents in Hebrew and asked me to sign them and I did. I thought I had to sign. 
After the interrogation my photograph and fingerprints were taken and I was then left in a waiting room for about an hour or so. Then I was taken to Huwwara military base where I was strip searched and taken to a cell. I was left there from around 9:00 p.m. until around 3:00 p.m. the following day. Then I was taken to Megiddo prison, inside Israel, where I was searched in my clothes on before being taken to the juvenile section.
On Monday, 4 March 2019, I was taken to Salem military court. The hearing was quick and my parents did not attend because they were not informed about the hearing. I was taken back to prison after the hearing. 
About a week later I was taken for another interrogation at Salem. The interrogator asked me if I wanted to speak to a lawyer and also informed me of my right to remain silent. I did not speak to a lawyer. The interrogator told me I had to confess and I told him I had nothing to confess to. Then he promised to issue a work permit for me if I confessed and I told him I had not done anything wrong. 
I had five military court hearings and at the last one I was sentenced in a plea bargain to 45 days in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I was also given a suspended sentence of six months valid for four years. My lawyer advised me to accept the plea bargain and I took his advice. 
I was released on 31 March, 2019, about two weeks earlier than expected because of good conduct.