Testimony - U.S.
|Date of incident:
||15 March 2013
||Haris, West Bank
A 16-year-old boy from the village of Haris, near the settlement of Ari’el in the West Bank, is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 5:30 a.m. and accused of throwing stones. He is taken to Al Jalame interrogation centre inside Israel and held for three days in solitary confinement.
“On 14 March there was an incident on the main road near my village in which a settler child was hurt,” recalls U.S. “The next morning I woke at 4:30 a.m. to a commotion outside the house. About an hour later I heard banging on our gate. I looked out the window and saw about eight soldiers entering our yard. The soldiers ordered my father to bring my mother, sister, me and my brother out of the house. Once outside our I.D. cards were checked. A soldier, who was talking into his radio, then pointed to me and said they would take me away. My mother then shouted at the soldiers and told them I was young and didn’t do anything wrong, but they ignored her. We were not told where they were taking me or why.”
“I was led from the house and my hands were tied behind my back with one plastic tie. The tie was very painful. One of the soldiers held a taser against my neck as I walked through the village. We walked for about 100 meters and then I was blindfolded. I tripped over because I could not see anything. I was put in an army jeep and had no idea where they were taking me. There was a dog in the back of the jeep which jumped on me and scratched my back and neck. I was scared,” says U.S.
U.S. was taken to a nearby settlement where he was detained until evening. He was not given any food. He asked for water and was given something to drink that he believes was alcoholic. He spat it out. He was then given hot water to drink. At some point during the day U.S. was given a humiliating strip search. “A soldier asked me to take off my clothes. When he came back and found me in my underwear he screamed and shouted and threatened to punish me if he came back and found my underwear on. I took off my underwear and waited. A soldier came and asked me to crouch. He then asked me to stand up and to crouch again. He repeated this request three or four times while other soldiers watched and laughed at me. I was then told to put on my clothes.”
That evening U.S. was re-tied, blindfolded and transferred to Al Jalame interrogation centre, inside Israel. The following morning he was interrogated. “The interrogator started by telling me he knew everything about me and that my friends had confessed. He kept telling me he wanted to hear the story from me. Three other interrogators entered the room. One was carrying a stick, the other had a tool that looked like a wire clipper and the third one had a bottle of cold water which he poured over me. The interrogator never told me who had confessed against me. I knew it wasn’t true; they just wanted to scare me and to apply pressure on me, but I didn’t confess. One of the interrogators then covered my head with a black cloth bag and took me to a small cell.”
“Inside the cell there were concrete beds and the walls were rough with sharp protrusions. There was a dirty toilet which had a horrible smell and an air conditioner was turned on; it was freezing cold in there. I sat on the bed and I think I snoozed for about five or 10 minutes before I woke up again, I was exhausted. I was left in this cell by myself for three days. The lights were left on all day and night. There were no windows. I only knew it was morning when I heard the birds singing, other than that I had no idea what time of the day it was. Nobody told me how long I was going to stay in that cell. When I asked the guard what time it was he told me I wasn’t allowed to know the time and refused to tell me. I thought about my mother a lot, I was worried that something would happen to me and my family wouldn’t find out. The food they gave me had bits of hair in it and it was very unappetizing. It also wasn’t enough and I felt hungry.”
“On Sunday I was taken for interrogation again. The interrogator told me to say I threw one stone and he would set me free, but I did not confess. I was then taken to another cell with no beds, just a mattress on the floor. I did not sleep at all that night. On Monday I was taken to court and had no idea what was going on. At court I saw a lawyer for the first time. The judge accused me of throwing stones at Israelis and told me that stones endanger lives. The prosecutor then asked to adjourn the case until Thursday, 21 March.”
“I was then taken to different cell where I remained for three days. Another person was brought to the cell and I think he was a collaborator. He stayed in my cell one day and kept asking me questions. I did not tell him anything. I was then interrogated a third time. I hadn’t slept the night before. The interrogator introduced himself as Captain Assaf. He asked me whether I threw stones and whether I knew anybody who threw stones. I did not confess to anything. After this interrogation I was taken to yet another cell.”
“On Thursday I was taken back to court. The judge said I was innocent and ordered my release. I was taken in a car to Salem checkpoint and released, seven days after my arrest. The three days I spent in solitary confinement were the hardest. I am now too scared to leave home. I used to love playing football but most of my friends have also been arrested and I don’t know who to trust. This was a terrible experience.”