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Testimony: A.S.E.K.


Name: A.S.E.K.
Age: 16
Date: 19 January 2021
Location: Hizma, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones

On 19 January 2021, a 16-year-old minor from Hizma was arrested by Israeli soldiers on the street at 8.30 p.m. He reports being interrogated multiple times and held in solitary confinement for 14 days.  

I was near my uncle’s shop when a group of Israeli soldiers grabbed me. It was around 8:30 p.m. About 10 soldiers were marching up the street when four of them started running towards me. It was dark and I hid in the shop. A soldier grabbed me and pushed me to the ground. Then he took me outside where he searched me. It was cold and raining. Then he took my identity card from my pocked and compared my photo to a photo on his mobile phone. 
After the soldier compared the photos he tied my hands behind my back with three plastic ties: one on each wrist and another connecting the two. He tightened them hard and I screamed of pain. Then the soldier replaced the ties with looser ones which I later snapped open. 
Soon my father and other members of my family came to the scene and tried to get me released. My father handed me a jacket and then the soldiers took me and my father to a jeep where we sat on seats. The jeep then took us to the police station in Binyamin settlement. 
At the police station my father and I were taken into a room with a group of soldiers. The soldiers told my father to leave. Then a soldier handcuffed me to the front and left me in the room for about three hours. Then I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator removed the handcuffs and asked me if I wanted to speak to a lawyer. I told him there was no need for a lawyer because I did not do anything wrong. Then he turned a voice recorder on and asked me who I threw stones at and where. He asked me this question without informing me of my right to silence. I denied the accusation. Then he asked me about other boys from my village and wanted to know where I went with them. Then he asked me about the boys who took part in clashes with soldiers earlier in the day. I told him I was at my uncle’s shop and did not see anything.
The interrogator questioned me for more than an hour and I denied the accusations and told him I did not know anything about the other boys he named. He was calm most of the time but he raised his voice at me and thumped the table when I denied the accusation. He asked me whether my family had enough photos of me and told me they would need lots of photos to remember me. I took this to mean that he wanted to lock me up for a long time. He told me he had had his eye on me for a long time and now that he captured me he was not going to let go of me easily. He told me he was going to let me rot in prison.
At the end of the interrogation he showed me a document written in Hebrew which he asked me to sign. I refused to sign the document unless he translated it for me. He became very angry when I refused to sign and called some soldiers to force me to sign. He then showed me a google translate on his screen but I refused to sign because the translation did not correspond to what I had told him.
After the interrogation I was taken to a military base called Anatot where I was put in a room. I arrived there at around 5:00 a.m. I slept for about an hour and then I was taken to Ashkelon prison, inside Israel, where I was interrogated multiple times, each time for about an hour. 
Before each interrogation I was asked if I wanted to speak to a lawyer but I turned down the offer because I felt there was no need for a lawyer. I was also informed of my right to silence but when I remained silent the interrogator became angry and thumped the table aggressively. I was repeatedly asked the same questions and I continued to deny the accusations. I was threatened to be put in prison without food or drink for a whole month if I did not confess.  At the end of each interrogation I was asked to sign documents written in Hebrew but I refused to sign anything I did not understand. 
I spent 14 days in solitary confinement in Ashkelon. I was kept in a small cell measuring about 1 x 2 meters with no windows except for a small opening in the door and another one which was closed with shutters the whole time. Most of the time I did not know whether it was day or night. There was a thin mattress on the floor and a toilet. 
I found it very hard to be in solitary confinement in a small cell and I kept banging at the door asking the soldiers to let me out. As punishment for making a noise a soldier hand cuffed my hands behind my back for three hours and I was interrogated while I was handcuffed. They also disrupted my sleep and banged the door when I fell asleep in order to wake me up. I was also threatened to be sprayed with gas if I continued to bang on the door.
After 14 days I was transferred to the police station in Etzion settlement where I spent another 14 days in a cell with other detainees. Then I was transferred to the quarantine section at Megiddo prison where I was searched in my boxer shorts. I spent 21 days in quarantine before being transferred to the juvenile section at Megiddo. 
My first military court hearing was on 22 January 2021. It was conducted via video link and my uncle attended. My detention was extended. I had four hearings and at the last one, which was on 1 March 2021, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to seven months in prison with a suspended sentence of an additional three months valid for two years. At first, I rejected the plea bargain but my father and my lawyer encouraged me to accept it. My father offered to pay NIS 5,000 shekels to reduce my sentence to two months in prison, which the military court accepted. 
I was given early release on 7 March 2021 and was released at Al Jalama checkpoint. My parents were expecting me to be released three days earlier and that was why they were not waiting for me at the checkpoint.  I managed to contact my parents and they came and picked me up. I arrived home at around 3:00 a.m., tired and hungry. I had a nice meal and then went to bed.
This testimony was produced with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Military Court Watch.