Testimony - B.H.
|Date of incident:||21 February 2013|
|Location:||Huwwara checkpoint, West Bank|
On 21 February 2013, a 14-year-old boy from the Balata refugee camp, is arrested by Israeli soldiers at Huwwara checkpoint whilst attending a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners.
“On Thursday, 21 February 2013, I went to Huwwara checkpoint, near Nablus, to take part in a demonstration in support of Palestinian prisoners. There were at least five Israeli military vehicles in the area and soldiers were firing tear gas and stun grenades at the crowd. A jeep drove towards us and I ran and jumped in a ditch by the side of the road. A soldier then grabbed me and held his assault rifle to my head. I was dragged to a waiting military jeep and was kicked and slapped. I was also hit on the head with a walky-talky.”
“Once inside the jeep I was made to sit on the metal floor. Two other boys were put in the jeep on top of me. My hands were painfully tied with one plastic tie to the front. I complained that my wrists hurt but I was ignored. The soldiers in the jeep swore at us and we swore back at them. We were then driven a short distance to Huwwara military camp. On arrival at Huwwara I was blindfolded and made to wait in a room until around midnight. Every time I tried to sleep a soldier kicked me to wake me up. At around midnight I was driven to Ari’el settlement where a doctor examined me and then I was brought back to Huwwara. It must have been around 2:00 a.m.”
“On arrival back at Huwwara I was interrogated. The interrogator removed my blindfold but kept my hands tied. I was not told anything about any rights and I did not speak to a lawyer. The interrogator accused me of throwing stones and wanted to know who sent me. He also wanted to know the names of other people at the demonstration. I denied that I threw stones and told him nobody sent me. I did not give him any names. I think the interrogation lasted about 30 minutes. In the end I confessed to throwing seven stones towards military vehicles without hitting any of them. After I confessed I asked to telephone my parents and the interrogator agreed. However, nobody answered the phone. It was around 2:30 a.m. The interrogator then handed me a document written in Hebrew which I signed.”
“After the interrogation I was taken outside where I waited. It was very cold. Sometime later I was brought inside and put in a cell where I waited for about an hour. I was then put in a vehicle and taken to Megiddo prison, inside Israel. On arrival at the prison I was made to strip naked and I was searched. I was then taken to a cell with boys my age. I did not eat anything for about 24 hours following my arrest.”
“The following day I was taken to Salem military court where I met with my lawyer for the first time. My parents did not attend. I don’t think they were informed. I showed the judge the bump on my head and I told him I was beaten. The prosecutor requested a sentence of 25 months, but my lawyer objected and the case was adjourned. About one week later I appeared in court again. This time the prosecutor requested 18 months in prison, and my lawyer objected again. The case was adjourned for one month. My parents attended the second session and I managed to speak to them from across the court room.”
“I appeared in court on at least two more occasions and was eventually sentenced to five months in prison with a fine of NIS 2,000. I was told that my sentence was reduced because of my age and because I was beaten. I served my sentence in Megiddo prison, inside Israel. My parents were not permitted to visit me for 'security’ reasons. However, my 13 and 17-year-old brothers did visit me. In prison I was only taught Arabic and mathematics; none of the other subjects. I was finally released on 7 July.”
“After prison I went back to school for one month but then dropped out. I found it really difficult to catch up on the time I missed whilst in jail. Now I think I will become a mechanic.”