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Testimony: M.H.M.T.


Name: M.H.M.T.
Age: 13
Date: 1 November 2017
Location: Beit Ummar, West Bank
Accusation: Setting a fire

On 1 November 2017, a 13-year-old boy from Beit Ummar is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 2:30 a.m. He reports being interrogated without first being informed of his right to silence or consulting a lawyer. He is released in a plea bargain on 16 November 2017. 

I heard loud banging at our front door at around 2:30 a.m. I got up startled and went to the living room where I found about 10 Israeli soldiers already inside our home. Some of the soldiers were wearing face masks. 
The soldiers collected our identity cards and then called my name and told my parents they wanted to arrest me. The commander told my mother to get my birth certificate and she did. My father objected and told the commander he would bring me to Etzion police station in the morning but the commander refused. We were not given any documents about my arrest.
I was then taken outside where they tied my hands to the front with three plastic ties: one on each wrist and another connecting the two. The ties were not painful. I was also blindfolded.
The soldiers then took me to the back of a troop carrier where I sat on a seat. The troop carrier drove to my uncle’s house, where they arrested my cousin, and then drove to the settlement of Karmi Zur. At the settlement I was taken to a room where I sat on a chair until later that morning. I could not sleep.
Later that morning I was put in a jeep where I sat on a seat. I was then driven to the police station in Etzion settlement. The soldiers attached my hand ties to the jeep which caused me a lot of pain. 
On arrival at Etzion I was examined by a doctor who removed the ties and the blindfold and asked me some questions about my health. He made me sign a document and then tied and blindfolded me as before. At around 10:00 a.m. I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator wore civilian clothes. He removed the blindfold but kept my hands tied. He took me to a small dark room and asked me whether I burned trees near the settlement of Karmi Zur. I told him I did not. He asked me this question without informing me of any rights. Then he slapped me on the face and shouted at me and called me a liar. I was very scared and confessed. This lasted about 15 minutes.
After I confessed the interrogator took me to another room where another interrogator was sitting. He asked me questions and typed everything on his computer. He told me to repeat my confession. I confessed to setting fire to trees on Friday but he wanted me to confess to setting fire on Tuesday. I denied setting fire to trees on Tuesday. 
At the end of the second interrogation he showed me a document which said I had the right to silence and the right to consult with a lawyer. The document was in Arabic and Hebrew and he asked me to sign it and I did. He also showed me another document in Hebrew and asked me to sign it and I did without understanding what it said. This interrogation lasted for about 30 minutes.
Then I was taken in a vehicle to Ofer prison where I was immediately taken to the military court. My parents were not there and the hearing was adjourned. After court I was taken to Ofer prison where I was searched in my underwear and taken to Section 13.
About a week later I was taken to the settlement of Kiryat Arba for another interrogation. The interrogator asked me the same questions about the fire but this time I denied the accusation. Half way through the interrogation he told me I had the right to remain silent and the right to consult with a lawyer. He made me sign a document about my legal rights. Then he called a lawyer and allowed me to speak to her. The lawyer asked me what had happened and I told her I denied the accusation and she was pleased. My lawyer later told the military court that in the beginning I confessed because I was beaten and scared.
This interrogation lasted for about 30 minutes. After the interrogation they took my photograph and fingerprints. Then I was taken back to Ofer prison.
I had about seven military court hearings which my family attended. At the last hearing I was sentenced in a plea bargain. The court was satisfied with the time I had already spent in prison. In addition, they fined my parents 4,000 shekels and imposed a suspended sentence of five months in prison valid for two years. This was based on my lawyer’s advice who told me if I accept the plea bargain I would be released immediately.
I was released on 16 November 2017 and I arrived home with my two brothers at around 12:30 a.m. My mother had prepared a nice meal and I ate and went to bed. My parents did not visit me in prison because my stay was too short. It was a hard experience for me but having my cousin in prison with me helped a lot.