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Testimony: Y.J.Y.T.


Name: Y.J.Y.T.
Age: 17
Date: 2 June 2021
Location: Beit Fajjar, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones / Molotov cocktails

On 2 June 2021, a 17-year-old minor from Beit Fajjar was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 4:30 a.m. and accused of throwing Molotov cocktails. He reports ill treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison and fined NIS 1,500. He also received a suspended sentence. 

I woke up to the sound of loud banging at our front door. It was at around 4:30 a.m. I opened the door and about 10 Israeli soldiers entered our home. They asked for our telephones and identity cards. Then they searched around the house. 
After the soldiers searched our home they said they wanted to take me for a short while and would bring me back soon. A soldier gave my mother a document written in Hebrew which she did not understand. The soldiers remained in the house for about 15 minutes and then took me outside where a soldier blindfolded me and tied my hands to the front with three plastic ties: one on each wrist and another connecting the two. The ties were not painful.
Once outside the soldiers slapped and kicked me without reason. Then they led me on foot for about 30 minutes to the entrance to the village before putting me in a troop carrier where I sat on the metal floor. Then they took me to the police station in Etzion settlement where I was left outside until around 9:30 a.m. when I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator was in civilian clothes. He removed the blindfold but kept me tied. He phoned a lawyer and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me to move away from the interrogator because he did not want him to listen in. Then he told me not to confess and that, hopefully, he was going to get me released after the court hearings. The conversation was less than two minutes and the interrogator could not hear because I moved away from him.
Then, without informing me of my right to silence, the interrogator asked me to turn on my mobile phone. He skimmed through it but did not find anything. Then he accused me of throwing stones and showed me photographs of clashes with soldiers where I was standing aside watching. I denied the accusation. Then he told me my friends had confessed against me and gave me the names of my friends. I still denied the accusation. 
He then accused me of weapons possession and wanted to know where I had hidden the weapons. When I denied the accusation, he thumped the table aggressively and told me he was not going to release me until I provided him with a confession. He then told me I had better confess to him because if I did not he was going to send me for a harsher interrogation by an intelligence officer at Kiryat Arba.
I was questioned for about two hours and I did not confess. I was not given any documents to sign. After the interrogation I was taken to a nearby checkpoint where I waited for about 30 minutes and then I was taken to the settlement of Kiryat Arba. I arrived there at night and I was left in a room for about 30 minutes. Then I was taken for another interrogation.
This interrogator did not allow me to speak to a lawyer and did not inform me of my right to silence. He accused me of throwing stones and a Molotov cocktail at soldiers. When I denied the accusation, he made me take off my trousers and my shirt and took me outside and tied me to a pole at a roundabout in my boxer shorts. He left me there for about 30 minutes and then took me inside again and made the same accusations. When I denied the accusation, he tied me to the pole again. He repeated this multiple times and told me he was going to continue doing so until I confessed. 
I became exhausted and wanted this to end. I called the interrogator and he took me inside and I confessed to throwing stones. Within five minutes of providing the confession the interrogation was ended. He did not ask me to sign any documents. 
After the interrogation I was taken into a room and the following day I was taken to the quarantine section at Megiddo prison, inside Israel. I was searched in my boxer shorts and I spent 14 days at the quarantine. During this time, I had my first military court hearing on zoom which my mother attended. My detention was extended. After the 14 days I was taken to the juvenile section.
I had eight military court hearings. At the last one, which was on 13 October 2021, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to six months in prison and fined NIS 1,500. I was also given a suspended sentence of eight months suspended for three years. I accepted the plea bargain instead of spending more time in prison.  
I spent 61 days at Megiddo and then I was transferred to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem. I spent about three months at Ofer and then I was taken back to Megiddo where I spent the rest of my prison sentence. 
I had one family visit. At Megiddo I called home once every 14 days from a monitored phone provided by the prison authority. In prison I exercised and I helped in the kitchen and cooked food for the prisoners. 
I was released at Al Jalama checkpoint on 19 October 2021, and I went home with my family. I arrived home at around 11:30 p.m. I don’t go to school anymore and I work at a stone quarry.  
This testimony was produced with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Military Court Watch.