||7 February 2021
||Qabatiya, West Bank
On 17 February 2021, a 17-year-old minor was arrested by Israeli soldiers at Salem military base following the receipt of a phone summons. He reports being interrogated multiple time without always being informed of his rights and spending 15 days in solitary confinement.
The area commander, "Captain Ata", phoned my father at around 9:00 a.m. and told him to bring me to the military base at Salem immediately. My father told me to get ready and we both went to Salem as ordered. We arrived there at around noon. At the base the soldiers told my father to go home and took me into a room where I was left for about three hours. Then the area commander came and told me I was under arrest. He did not give me a reason for my arrest.
Later two soldiers handcuffed me to the front with metal handcuffs and tightened them hard. They were painful. They also shackled and blindfolded me before taking me to a military vehicle and made me sit on a seat. I was driven to the settlement of Dotan where I was left in a courtyard. Then I was given a quick medical examination which included a COVID test.
Then I was taken to Huwwara military base. On the way soldiers stopped and started to beat me. I arrived at Huwwara in the early hours of the morning. At the entrance gate to the base the soldiers swore at me and slapped me. Then I was strip searched before being taken to a room.
I spent 17 days in the room, 15 of which I was by myself in solitary confinement. The room had a small window near the ceiling which they kept shut but I could tell day from night. On the third day I was taken for interrogation.
I was handcuffed when I was taken to the interrogation room and the interrogator questioned me while I was handcuffed. He asked me if I wanted to speak to a lawyer. When I asked him whether a lawyer would be useful, the interrogator said no. Then I told him I did not want to speak to a lawyer if he was not going to be useful. Then the interrogator told me I had the choice of either answering him with yes or no or remaining silent. He then warned me it might not be in my interests to remain silent.
Then the interrogator questioned me about allegations against my friends who were arrested about a week earlier. Then he told me there were four items in my charge sheet: forming a terrorist cell, planning to attack Israelis, throwing stones and taking part in riots. I denied the accusations. The interrogator was calm but tried to manipulate me in order to confess. He told me he was going to send me to the military court whether I confessed or not. He also told me if I confessed he was going to send me home. He advised me to confess if I wanted to make it easy for myself, otherwise he was going to interrogate me for a long time.
He questioned me for a long time and at the end he asked me to sign a document written in Hebrew and told me it was to appoint a lawyer. I believed him and I signed the document.
I was questioned four more times over two weeks. I was not informed of my rights and did not speak to a lawyer. I signed a document in Hebrew only after the first interrogation.
The condition I was held under were tough. Food was scarce. They brought me yogurt in the morning, some rice at noon and chocolate pudding in the evening. The water was murky but I had to drink it. I was tired of being interrogated multiple times and of spending 15 days in solitary confinement. I thought a lot about my family and whether they knew where I was. In the end I confessed to throwing stones. After I confessed the interrogator tried to get information from me about my friends.
After 17 days I was transferred to the quarantine section at Megiddo prison, inside Israel, where I spent a week and then I was taken into the juvenile section.
I had five military court hearings. The first one was three days after my arrest and it was the first time I spoke to a lawyer. It took place at Salem and my father attended. The following hearings were conducted via video. At the last hearing I was sentenced in a plea bargain to two months and 17 days in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I was also given a suspended sentence of six months suspended for three years. I accepted the plea bargain because I was told I would spend more time in prison if I rejected it.
I did not have any family visits in prison because of the Corona Virus regulations but I was allowed to phone home from a monitored pay phone once every two weeks for 10 minutes. I spent the rest of my prison sentence at Megiddo. There was not much to do in prison and I spent most my time chatting to the other detainees.
I was released at Salem checkpoint on 18 May 2021 and I went home with my father. We arrived home at around 7:00 p.m.
This testimony was produced with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Military Court Watch.