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Testimony: A.A.A.W.


Name: A.A.A.W.
Age: 16
Date: 19 January 2020
Location: Beit Fajjar, West Bank
Accusation: Weapons possession

On 19 January 2020, a 16-year-old minor from Beit Fajjar was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 3.30  a.m. He reports not being informed of his right to silence or his right to consult with a lawyer prior to interrogation. 

My mother woke me up at around 3:30 a.m. and told me to get up because Israeli soldiers were outside. Then I heard a loud bang at our front door. My father opened the door and about 10 soldiers entered our home. The commander asked my father for me. Then the commander asked to check my identity card. Then he told my father I was under arrest. He did not say why and did not give my father any documents. 
Then the commander took me to my bedroom and started to question me about weapons without informing me of my rights. I told the commander I was sick and had fever. He was calm and asked me to tell him where I had hidden the weapons. I told him I did not have any weapons. He questioned me without my parents present and threatened that if I did not tell him the location of the weapons he was going to hold me for a long time. He was with two other soldiers and told me he was going to search the house and turn it upside down if I did not cooperate.
Then two other soldiers came into the bedroom and told the commander they had found a metal pipe in the garden.  The commander asked me whether it was mine and I told him it was and pleaded with him not to beat me because I was sick. 
The then soldiers took me outside where they tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie. The tie was very tight and painful. I was kept waiting while the soldiers made more arrests in the neighbourhood. Then I was taken to a military jeep which was waiting. A soldier deliberately banged my head against the jeep. I told the soldier I was sick and complained about the tight plastic tie. The commander heard me and told the soldier to change the tie and then he left. The soldier removed the tie and tied me again to the front. The tie was still very painful. 
Then the soldier blindfolded me and put me in the back of the jeep and made me sit on the metal floor. The soldiers who were in the back of the jeep swore at me and called me “a son of a whore” and swore at god. They slapped and kicked me while I was tied and blindfolded. The jeep drove to the police station in Etzion settlement where I was left in a room with seven other detainees until the following day. The next morning I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator removed the tie and the blindfold. He did not inform me of my rights and told me I knew everything from my previous arrest.  The interrogator was in civilian clothes and had a camera and a voice recorder in the room. He accused me of throwing pipe bombs at soldiers. He also named some boys and accused me of planning to throw pipe bombs with them. I denied having thrown any pipe bombs or planning anything with other boys. I just told him that the pipe they found in the garden was mine. 
The interrogator questioned me for about one-and-a-half hours. Half way through the interrogation he phoned a lawyer for me and allowed me to speak to him. He asked me whether I wanted him to leave the room while I spoke to the lawyer but I told him he could stay. The lawyer told me not to confess. I told him O.K., knowing from my previous experience that the lawyer’s advice is worth nothing. The conversation was short and abrupt; I was not interested in listening to what he had to say. 
Then the interrogator told me he was going to test me. He gave me a sheet of paper with some names of boys from the village and some blank spaces. He told me he wanted me to fill the blanks with more names. I did not give him any names. Then he showed me a document in Arabic and asked me to sign it and I did after reading it. He also showed me a document in Hebrew and asked me to sign it but I refused to sign it.  
Then I was taken to a cell where I was strip searched. I spent four nights in the cell together with four other boys. On the fourth day I was taken to Ofer prison where I was strip searched again before being taken to section 13. I arrived at Ofer at around 2:00 a.m. 
The following day I was taken to Ofer military court. My parents did not attend the hearing because they were not informed but a lawyer was there and he represented me. The hearing was adjourned and my detention was extended. 
I had another military court hearing on 17 February 2020 but then court hearings were suspended due to the Corona virus. My third hearing was via video link. During the third hearing I was sentenced in a plea bargain to five months in prison and fined NIS 1,000. I also received a suspended sentence of one year in prison suspended for five years. I accepted the plea bargain because the date of my release would be certain. Also, the military judge postponed the six-month suspended sentence from my previous imprisonment which I was very happy about. 
I spent the whole time at Ofer prison. We were about 35 children in the minors’ section. I did not have any family visits because of the Corona Virus regulations and the prison administration did not provide pay phones for me to call my family. This was the hardest thing about the whole experience.
I was released on 18 June 2020 and I went home with my father; we arrived home at around 7:00 p.m.