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Testimony: Z.N.H.J.


Name: Z.N.H.J.
Age: 15
Date: 13 April 2019
Location: Sa'ir, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones

On 13 April 2019, a 15-year-old minor from Sa’ir was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 2:30 a.m. He reports speaking to a lawyer via phone prior to interrogation but not being informed of his right to silence.

My father woke me up at around 2:30 a.m. and told me Israeli soldiers had come to our home. Then three soldiers entered my bedroom and one of them asked to see my identity card. My father told him I did not yet have an identity card because of my age. Then the commander told me to put on some warm clothes because it was cold and told my father they were arresting me.

When my father asked why I was being arrested the commander told him his job was only to make the arrest. Then he gave my father a document with details about my arrest. The information was written in Hebrew. The commander took a photo of my father holding the document.

Then they gathered my parents, my siblings and my older brother and his family in one room and took me outside and made me walk quickly towards the centre of the village. Some young men from the village started to throw stones at the soldiers who were surrounding the house.

Then I was taken to a troop carrier where I was tied with my hands to the front with one plastic tie which was tight and painful. My wrists swelled and the tie left a mark for a long time. When I complained a soldier told me he would loosen it later but he never did. I was also blindfolded and made to sit on the metal floor of the troop carrier. Then they drove to my friend’s house and arrested him.

After my friend’s arrest we were driven to the police station in Etzion settlement. At the gate they took me out of the troop carrier and made me walk by myself while tied and blindfolded. I fell down when a soldier pushed me to hurry me up.

Once inside the settlement I was taken for a medical examination. The doctor removed the tie and the blindfold and put them back again when he was done.

After the medical exam I was led on a long walk to a shipping container where I sat on a chair until around 6:00 a.m. I could not sleep at all.

During this time the interrogator came by and handed me a phone and told me it was a lawyer. The person on the other end of the line had a heavy accent and I was suspicious of him. He told me to see what the interrogator had to say and then he would fix things up for me. He told me he would see me in court. Then I was taken for interrogation.

The interrogator removed the tie and the blindfold and offered me a cigarette. When I told him I did not smoke he offered me tea and cake. Then he told me my friend, whom they had arrested with me, had confessed to “everything”. He told me because he cooperated he was done quickly. Then without informing me of my rights he accused me of throwing stones on Route 60. When I denied the accusation he told me a boy from my village had confessed against me. He also showed me some photographs of boys throwing stones and accused me of taking part. Still, I denied the accusation.

I was interrogated for about two hours. During this time the interrogator put a lot of pressure on me and kept telling me my friends had confessed against me. He urged me to confess against them because they betrayed me and I should not let them get away with it. The psychological pressure was immense and I ended up confessing. He wanted me to confess against my friends and to confess to throwing stones at settlers and to being involved in pulling down a drone. I only confessed to throwing a stone which missed at a passing military jeep from a distance of 500 meters.

Then he took me to see another interrogator who was aggressive and spoke to me while shouting urging me to confess against two boys from my village. He did not inform me of my rights and questioned me for about 30 minutes. Then he showed me documents written in Hebrew and asked me to sign them but I refused to sign. He swore at me a called me “a son of a whore” and told me signing the documents would make things easier for me but I refused unless a lawyer was present. He then signed the documents himself.

Then he tied my hands tightly and blindfolded me and took me to a cell where I was strip searched. They brought me some food but I could not eat it and I could not sleep.

At around 7:00 p.m. I was taken to Ofer prison. The trip to Ofer took many hours. At Ofer I was again strip searched before being taken to section 13.

The following day I had a military court hearing. My parents were not informed and did not attend. I was denied release on bail and the hearing was adjourned. I had about five military court hearings and at the last one I was sentenced in a plea bargain to three months in prison and given a suspended sentence valid for three years. This was reduced to one month in prison after parents decided to pay NIS 2,000.

I was released at Beit Sira checkpoint on 13 May 2019 and went home with my mother and brother. I arrived home at around 2:00 a.m. One day before I was released the area commander phoned my father and told him to bring me over to his office the following day. My father and I went to the commander’s office at 4:00 p.m. as requested. The commander warned my father that if I ever throw stones again he was going to ban my father from traveling. He made him sign a commitment written in Hebrew.