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Testimony: M.A.Y.T.


Name: M.A.Y.T.
Age: 16
Date: 3 January 2017
Location: Beit Fajjar, West Bank
Accusation: Weapon offences

On 3 January 2017, a 16-year-old youth from Beit Fajjar is arrested by Israeli soldiers at 1:30 a.m. and accused of weapon offences. He is interrogated without prior access to a lawyer. He spends 5 months in prison.

I was getting ready to go to the nearby bakery where I work at around 1:30 a.m. when I heard banging at our front door. My father answered and a group of Israeli soldiers entered the house and asked for me.
I went to where the soldiers were and they immediately took me outside and started to question me about a pipe weapon which they claimed they had information about. I told them I had no idea what they were talking about. Then they told my father to go to the police station in Etzion settlement later that morning where they were going to question me. They did not give us any written documents. I later found out that my father went to the police station the following morning but the soldiers did not allow him in.
Then the soldiers took me out of the house and led me towards the house of another boy and again asked me about the pipe bomb. Again I told them I had no idea what they were talking about. Then they tied my hands to the front with three plastic ties: one on each wrist and one connecting the two. They were not tight. I was also blindfolded.  I was then put in the back of a jeep where I sat on the metal floor between the soldiers legs. The jeep remained in the town until around 4:00 a.m. before it drove to the police station in Etzion settlement.
At Etzion the soldiers made me sit on the ground outside a toilet. There was dirty water all over the place. I begged the soldiers to move me somewhere else but they refused and slapped me each time I made this request. I remained there until around 8:00 a.m. Then I was taken to see a doctor who removed the blindfold and examined me. I was blindfolded again and then taken for interrogation.
The interrogator removed the blindfold but kept my ties on. He had a tape recorder in the room and he showed me a document which said I had the right to remain silent and the right to see a lawyer. The document was in Arabic and the interrogator asked me to sign it and I did. Then he asked me for my father’s telephone number but he did not call him. Then he accused me of firing at a settlement. I told him I did not know what he was talking about. Then another interrogator joined in and they both told me I was accused of firing at a settlement. One of the interrogators was calm and the other was shouting.
They interrogated me in rounds until around 4:00 p.m. Each round took about 90 minutes.  I was blindfolded and taken to a courtyard between the rounds. Soldiers who guarded me beat me but then the commander shouted at the soldiers and ordered them to stop beating me. The two interrogators continued to accuse me of firing at the settlement and soldiers and told me there were confessions against me by other boys. I continued to deny the accusations.
Then I was taken to see a policeman who told me I had the right to consult with a lawyer. He called a lawyer for me and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me to remain silent and not to sign any statements.
The policeman accused me of firing seven bullets at the settlement and throwing stones at soldiers. Then he turned on a tape recorder and played the voices of boys who confessed against me. At this point I confessed to throwing stones at soldiers but I denied the other accusation. I confessed because I did not want to be implicated in the more serious accusations. Then he typed up my statement on a computer and printed it out on Hebrew and asked me to sign it but I refused to sign because I wasn’t sure it was identical to what I had told him.
Then they took my photograph and my fingerprints and strip searched me and then took me to a cell where I spent a night.
The following morning I was taken to Ofer prison where I was strip searched again and taken into Section 13. The following day I was taken to the military court. My parents did not attend the first hearing. My lawyer was there and the hearing was adjourned. I had more than 17 hearings which my parents attended and I was allowed to talk to them. I was presented with a charge sheet which included firing at a settlement and soldiers and throwing stones at soldiers.
My lawyer was able to change the charge sheet to include stone throwing, weapons possession and shooting in the air. My lawyer did not attend the last hearing because of the lawyers’ strike but he was contacted by telephone and he accepted a plea bargain which included five months in prison, 4,000 shekels fine and a suspended sentence of one year suspended for 3 years.
I spent my last month at Megiddo prison inside Israel. I did not study in Prison and I was released on 19 May 2017. I was released at Al Jalame and I went home by myself.