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Testimony: S.M.I.K.


Name:  S.M.I.K.
Age:  15
Date:  1 October 2018
Location:  Nahhalin, West Bank
Accusation:  Setting a fire

On 1 October 2018, a 15-year-old boy from Nahhalin is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 3:00 a.m. He reports being interrogated without first being informed of his right to consult with a lawyer or his right to silence. 

I woke up at around 3:00 a.m. to the sound of loud banging at the front door. My brother opened the door and about 6 or 7 Israeli soldiers entered our home. 
The commander asked for me but he did not say what he wanted. When I identified myself he told me I was under arrest but he did not give us any documents. 
The soldiers did not allow me to put my jacket on and immediately took me outside where they tied my hands behind my back with 3 plastic ties: one on each wrist and another connecting the two. The ties were painful. They also blindfolded me and then took me to the back of a jeep and threw me on the metal floor. 
Inside the jeep a soldier beat me on my head and the jeep drove away. Then it stopped somewhere I did not recognise and I was taken to a shipping container. The soldiers made me sit on the floor and whenever I fell asleep they woke me up and made me stand up. I was not given any water and I was not allowed to use the toilet.
At around 8:30 a.m. I was taken to the police station in Etzion settlement. An interrogator greeted me in the courtyard and welcomed me in and called me by my name. He asked me whether I wanted to tell him everything quickly or I was going to take my time. I told him I wanted to be done quickly and that I had not done anything wrong. At that point he punched me in the stomach and beat me on my shoulder. Then I told him I wanted to report him to a lawyer and the judge but he just beat me harder. This lasted for about 15 minutes. 
The interrogator did not inform me of my rights and the whole time wanted me to confess to throwing stones and starting a fire near the fence of a settlement. I denied the accusation.
Then he took me inside and another interrogator started to question me. The second interrogator removed the blindfold and was very calm. He asked me whether I was going to confess and threatened to send me back to the first interrogator who was waiting outside if I did not confess. I told him I did not do anything wrong and had nothing to confess. Then he blindfolded me and took me outside where I was beaten again. 
After I was beaten outside I was taken inside again and the interrogator removed the blindfold and asked me the same questions again. He asked me again whether I was going to confess because if I was not he was going to send me out again to be beaten. I continued to deny the accusation.
Then I was taken into another room where a policeman asked me to repeat what I had told the other interrogator and he recorded everything on his computer. He asked me about my cousin and then he showed me documents in Hebrew and asked me to sign them and I did. 
After I signed the document I was taken to a cell where I was strip searched. I waited in this cell for about 4 hours. 
After about 4 hours I was taken to Ofer prison where I was strip searched again before being taken to Section 13. 
The following day I was taken to Ofer military court. My parents were not there because they were not informed about the hearing. My detention was extended and the hearing was adjourned. After the hearing I was taken back to Ofer prison.
While at Ofer I was taken for 3 more interrogations at kiryat Arba settlement. During one of the interrogations I was allowed to speak to a lawyer at the beginning of the interrogation. The lawyer told me not to confess. I was never informed of my right to silence.
On 28 December 2018 I had a hearing and the military judge decided to release me on bail. My parents had to pay 2,000 shekels. I was released on the same day and I arrived home at around 11:00 p.m. 
I had 3 more military court hearings following my release on bail. At the last hearing the court informed me if I confessed to setting fire to the fence near the settlement they would close the file. This was a plea bargain which also included turning the 2,000 shekels bail into a fine and an additional suspended sentence of 1 month valid for 3 years. I decide to accept the plea bargain because I did not want to be back to court any more.