Testimony - Y.M.
|Date of incident:||7 January 2013|
|Location:||Beit Ummar, West Bank|
On 7 January 2013, a 17-year-old boy from Beit Ummar, in the West Bank, is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 2:30 a.m. and accused of throwing stones.
“I woke up at around 2:30 a.m. to the sound of loud banging at our front door. Somebody was saying in Arabic: 'Open the door, this is the army.’ My father opened the door while I stayed in my room. All of a sudden soldiers entered my room. I didn’t expect this to happen, I was shocked. They allowed me to get dressed and then two soldiers escorted me out of the house. They didn’t tell me why they were taking me or where, and they didn’t have anything in writing to show me or my family. I said goodbye to my parents and left with them.”
“As I stepped out of the house I saw about 30 soldiers in the street. Some wore masks. They pushed me into a military jeep that was waiting nearby and made me sit on the metal floor. They blindfolded me and tied my hands in front of me with three plastic ties. The ties were not too tight. The soldiers cursed me and said bad things about my mother and sister. They also slapped me and poked me with the back of their guns as the jeep drove away.”
“A short while later the jeep arrived at Etzion settlement. They made me sit outside on the ground where I waited for about two hours before they took me to be interrogated. It was very cold and had snowed the day before."
"The interrogator introduced himself but I don’t remember his name. He removed my blindfold but kept my hand ties on and didn’t tell me anything about my rights. He asked for my name and whether I wanted to be treated like a person or an animal. I told him I wanted to be treated as a person. He then asked me to tell him what I had done during the past two months and whether I threw stones at settlers and at the military tower at the entrance to the village. He also asked me whether I threw stones at military vehicles during funerals in the village. He told me other children had confessed against me. I think he said this to set me up. I told him that I wanted to confront these other children. He named some children whom I know but I told him I don’t hang out with them; I go from home to school and back, and I don’t throws stones. He got very angry when I said this, banged the table and told me to confess."
"He threatened to bring my father and beat him up in front of me if I didn’t confess. He also threatened to bring the rest of my family and humiliate them. I told him I had nothing to confess since I only go to school and I am not involved in politics. He got upset, tightened the plastic ties around my wrists, blindfolded me again and told me to get out.”
“I sat out in the cold for about three hours; I heard the dawn call to prayer from the mosque. The interrogator then came out, lifted my blindfold and asked me whether I wanted to confess. I said no. He told me a charge sheet had been prepared and if I confessed he would send me home. He told me I was accused of taking part in the funeral of a woman from the village whom he named and that I threw five stones at the military tower. By this point I was very tired and cold since and I just wanted to get out of the situation so I confessed. He took me back inside and fingerprinted me before taking me to see another interrogator.
“The second interrogator said to me: 'so, you confessed?’ I said no. He got angry and accused me of lying. A big fat man entered the room and slapped me hard on the back of my neck and said something in Hebrew. At this point I confessed again to throwing five stones. The second interrogator asked me who else was with me and asked for names. I told him I was by myself. The interrogator recorded everything I was saying on a tape recorder. He showed me some photos and told me these people had confessed against me. I told him I didn’t know the people in the photos. He also showed me a document written in Hebrew and asked me to sign it. I refused to sign because I couldn’t understand what was written in it. The interrogator told me not to be afraid of signing and that he had written exactly what I had told him. I then signed the document. He then took me outside to wait in the cold.”
“About 30 minutes later I was driven to a cell in another part of the settlement. Before I entered the cell a person came, pulled down my trousers and did a body search. He also made me go through a metal-detector. There were about six or seven other prisoners in the cell, some were young others were old. It was about 1:00 p.m. and I still hadn’t been given anything to eat or drink. At around 3:00 p.m. I was given some food. I ate and fell asleep. At around 5:00 p.m. there was a knock at the door; somebody came to tell me I was being transferred toOfer prison, near Ramallah.”
“My hands and feet were shackled for the trip to Ofer. When I arrived I was photographed and strip searched. They then took me to a cell with children my age. By now it was around 8:30 p.m. The next day I was taken to Ofer military court at around 7:00 a.m. My parents weren’t there and I didn’t have a lawyer, so the case was adjourned. The same thing happened next time I was in court. On the third occasion there was a lawyer for me in court. I had about nine court appearances during which time I remained in prison. Eventually I accepted a plea bargain in which I was sentenced to four months in prison. This was later reduced to two months upon payment of NIS 2,000 ($550). I was also given a four month suspended sentence for three years. I was finally released on 7 March. On 7 March I waited from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in a waiting room before being released.”
“I suffer from hay fever and didn’t take my medicine with me when I was arrested. In prison my hay fever got worse but I was not given any medicine. On my fifth court appearance my lawyer complained to the judge and I was taken to hospital and a doctor prescribed medicine. It still took about a week before I was given the medicine.”
“I have missed three months of school and now I have a file with the Israeli authorities. I am worried it will be hard for me to get a work permit or travel to the U.S. to see my aunt.”