|Date:||18 May 2021|
|Location:||Habla, West Bank|
|Accusation:||Throwing Molotov cocktails / stones|
On 18 May 2021, a 17-year-old minor from Habla was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 11:30 p.m. on the street in his village He reports spending 5 days in solitary confinement in Megiddo prison, inside Israel.
I went to get myself a pizza at around 11:30 p.m. when I was ambushed by a large group of Israeli soldiers who circled me from every direction. They immediately pushed me to the ground and searched me and started to beat me. They kicked and slapped and punched me. I was in shock as it all happened so quickly. I felt severe pain in my left knee.
A soldier pressed his knee on my neck and I felt I was going to pass out. Soldiers swore at me and called me "a fucking son of a whore". I passed out for a few seconds but the soldiers woke me up. I think I nearly choked on my tongue but a para medic soldier made sure I was ok.
Then they tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie which was very tight and painful. They left the tight tie on my wrists for two days. Then they walked me into a nearby military base where I passed out again and the soldiers had to revive me. Later I was taken to the back of a military jeep where they blindfolded me and made me lie down on the metal floor face down. A soldier put his knee on the back of my neck to keep my head down on the floor.
I was left like this from around 1:00 a.m. until around 3:00 p.m. later that day. During this time they brought me a glass of water and a jelly sandwich which gave me diarrhea. At around 3:00 p.m. I was taken to to the police station in Ariel settlement.
At the police station a policeman noticed how tight the tie was and he replaced it with a looser one. Then he noticed I had bruises on my face and refused to admit me. I was taken back to the military base. Then, in the evening I was taken back to Ariel where I was kept in a detention room.
An interrogator came to the room many times and threatened and shouted at me and called me "a son of a whore". He accused me of lying when I told him I did not do anything wrong. Then, at around 3:30 a.m. I was taken to the interrogation room.
The interrogator was in civilian clothes and had a camera and a voice recorder in the room. He asked me for my identity card number. When I told him I did not know it he called my father and took it from him. Then he took me to another room where they took my photograph and my fingerprints. Then he took me back to the interrogation room and told me I had the right to remain silent and warned me if I did remain silent it would be interpreted as guilt. I then realized it was in my interest to speak and defend myself rather than remain silent.
Then he phoned a lawyer and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me not to confess, and, god willing he was going to get me released the following day. The conversation was less than a minute and the interrogator was listening. Then the interrogator told me he was going to start questioning me and that I should not speak until he finished what he had to say.
The interrogator accused me of throwing stones at soldiers. I denied the accusation. Then he accused me of throwing a Molotov cocktail and of setting tires on fire. I continued to deny the accusations. Then he told me the young man he had questioned before me confessed against me and told the interrogator I was wearing a mask during clashes with soldiers. I did not believe him and asked the interrogator to confront me with the young man. A short while later he brought in the young man who denied having given a testimony against me.
Then the interrogator threatened to lock me up in prison for a long time if I did not confess. He told me to make it easy on myself and confess, sooner rather than later. I told him I was not going to confess to something I did not do. He questioned me for about 30 minutes and at the end he wanted me to sign a document written in Hebrew but I refused to sign unless he translated it for me.
Then I was taken to Huwwara military base where I was searched in my boxer shorts. Then I was taken to a cell where I stayed until the following day. During my time there I had a military court hearing via zoom which my father attended. The hearing was adjourned after the military judge extended my detention.
Then I was taken to Megiddo prison, in Israel, where I was locked up in solitary confinement for 5 days. The cell was about 3 X 3 meters. It had a frosted window which was closed the whole time and a small window in the door which brought in some fresh air. There was a light in the cell which I controlled.
I lost my mind in the cell and was desperate to get out. I was psychologically stressed especially since I could hear the other detainees chatting to each other in the next cell. I was depressed and I lost hope. I spent time staring at the walls and did not sleep well although I spent a lot of time lying down trying to sleep. I pulled off the metal piece of my zippers and used it to write and draw on the wall. I wrote poems by Mahmoud Darwish “I miss my mother, I miss my mother’s bread” and I drew a broken heart. My time in solitary confinement destroyed me psychologically.
The cell was monitored by a moving camera 24 hours a day and I had zero privacy, even when I went to the toilet. I kept begging the adult detainee in charge of the minors to get me out. He finally managed to convince the prison authorities to move me out after a very long five days. I was taken into the juvenile section. There I realised the majority of the children had confessed after spending time in solitary confinement. I felt about 85 percent of the children had been held in solitary confinement.
I had maybe seven or more court hearings. At the last one, which was about a month before I was released, my father presented a letter from my school saying I was a final-year high school student and my grades were good. He also told the judge he had paid about NIS 52,000 in lawyers’ fees trying to get me out of prison. During that hearing I was sentenced in a plea bargain to four months 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 although it was unfair because more hearings would have meant more time in prison.
I spent the rest of my prison sentence at Megiddo where I attended classes in Arabic, Hebrew and mathematics. My knee hurt all the time and I suspected it was fractured. The nurse in prison just dismissed my complaints and did not check it or give me an X-Ray. I did not have any family visits because of the Corona virus regulations.
I was released at Salem checkpoint on 4 September 2021 and I went home with my parents and my brother. We arrived home in the evening. Now I want to focus on my school exams and try to make up for the time I lost in prison.
This testimony was produced with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Military Court Watch.