Testimony - M.Z.
|Date of incident:||2 January 2013|
|Location:||Beit Ummar, West Bank|
On 2 January 2013, a 14-year-old boy from Beit Ummar, in the West Bank, was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 2:30 a.m. and accused of throwing stones.
“I was asleep when I suddenly woke up to the sound of loud banging at our front door. It was 2:30 a.m. Minutes later soldiers entered my bedroom and told me I had to go with them. They didn’t tell me why or where they were taking me. I put on some clothes and followed them.”
“Once outside the house I was blindfolded and my hands were tied behind my back with two plastic ties that were very tight. I was pushed into a military vehicle that was waiting nearby and was made to sit on the metal floor. A short time later we arrived at the settlement of Gush Etzion. My blindfold was removed and a doctor asked me some questions about my health. My hands remained tied. I was then taken to see an interrogator. He didn’t tell me his name. He shouted at me and asked me whether I threw stones. I told him I didn’t. He got very upset when I told him I didn’t throw stones and he banged the table angrily and nearly broke it. He shouted at me and threatened to detain my brothers. I was scared. He then showed me a document written in Hebrew and asked me to sign it. I refused to sign the document and told him I didn’t understand Hebrew. He then said that other children had confessed against me. He blindfolded me again and asked me to wait outside.”
"About 30 minutes later I was interrogated for a second time by a different interrogator who introduced himself as 'Ibrahim’. I think he was a policeman. There was a tape recorder on his desk. He asked me the same questions as the first interrogator but he was more aggressive. I was more scared of him than the first interrogator. He showed me a document written in Hebrew and asked me to sign it, but again I refused. I was then taken to another room where I waited.”
“At around 4:00 p.m. I was interrogated for a third time by an interrogator who introduced himself as 'Yacoub’. He asked me the same questions as the other two. He also showed me a document written in Hebrew and asked me to sign it, but I refused. I denied throwing stones and insisted on not signing any documents written in Hebrew. I was then taken to a cell where I waited.”
“At 8:30 p.m. I was put on the floor of a military vehicle and taken to Ofer prison, near Ramallah. We arrived at around 9:30 p.m. At around midnight I had my first meal since my arrest. It was prepared by the other prisoners. The following day I was taken to Ofer military court. In court I met a lawyer for the first time since my arrest. The judge ordered my release on payment of bail of NIS 500. But my parents were not in court because they were not told I was in court and so I went back to prison.”
“The following day I was taken to be interrogated for a fourth time. This time I was told there was 'secret evidence’ against me and I was to be charged with throwing stones. I was later told that a friend of mine from the village informed the interrogator that we had thrown stones together. When I went back to court the judge sentenced me to four months in jail, and added another four months because of a previous suspended sentence. My lawyer objected and the case was adjourned. On the next court session my sentence was reduced to six months in jail, and further reduced by one month after my father agreed to pay NIS 1,000. My father really wanted me to go back to school as soon as possible which is why he paid the money.”
“Five months later, on 2 May 2013, I was released from prison. When I came home I was surprised when my nine-month-old sister did not recognise me. I didn’t anticipate this. She cried each time I went near and tried to play with her. I go to the YMCA rehabilitation centre, in Hebron, twice a week during the summer holidays, together with other children who had been in prison. I like it there.”