|15 February 2020
|Beit Fajjar, West Bank
|Throwing Molotov cocktails
On 15 February 2020, a 16-year-old minor from Beit Fajjar was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 3:00 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 10 months in prison and fined NIS 4,000. He also received a suspended sentence.
I was asleep when I heard very loud banging at our front door. It was around 3:00 a.m. My father opened the door and about 30 Israeli soldiers entered our home; some were wearing masks. They told my father they wanted me. I was still in bed. A soldier pulled the blanket off me while my father objected and demanded an explanation. The soldier told my father they wanted to arrest me. When my father asked why the soldier refused to answer.
The soldiers searched around the house and then took me without giving my parents any documents. I barely had time to dress and no time to put my shoes on, so I grabbed them and put them on outside.
The soldiers took me outside where they tied my hands to the back with two plastic ties on top of each other. They were very tight and caused me a lot of pain and left marks on my wrists for days. They also blindfolded me before leading me the short distance towards my uncle’s house. Then I was put into the back of a military jeep and made to sit on the metal floor. Inside the jeep a soldier kicked me on my legs and punched me in the face. I felt sever pain in my nose and I was bleeding. I was scared. Another soldier struck me with the back of his gun and slapped me on my head. He also swore at me.
The jeep drove me to the police station in Etzion settlement where I was left in an outdoor area in the rain for about an hour. After an hour a soldier took me to a shipping container and made me kneel on the floor. I was left in that position from around 5:00 a.m. until around 7:00 a.m. and I was in pain. I asked for some water but they did not bring me any. At around 7:00 a.m. I was taken for interrogation.
A soldier removed the blindfold before I was taken into the interrogation room. When I was taken into the interrogation room and my nose was still bleeding. The interrogator removed the ties and asked me if I wanted to say anything. Then, without informing me of my rights, he told me he knew everything there was to know about me. Then he accused me of throwing a Molotov cocktail at the settlement of Migdal Oz. I denied the accusation. Then he told me there were confessions by my friends against me. Still I denied the accusation.
Half-way through the interrogation the interrogator told me I had the right to consult with a lawyer. Then he phoned a lawyer and put the telephone on speaker and told me to speak to him. The lawyer told me not to be scared and not to confess. I told him my friends had already confessed against me. The conversation lasted a few minutes and the interrogator was listening.
The interrogator, who had a voice recorder on his table, was sometimes calm and at other times he was aggressive and thumped the table. He raised his voice at me and kept telling me to confess. In the end I confessed because I could not take it any longer.
He questioned me for about an hour-and-a-half. At the end he showed me documents written in Hebrew and asked me to sign them. When he told me it was my statement I signed. Then they took my photograph and fingerprints before I was strip searched and taken to a cell. The following day I was taken for another interrogation.
The interrogator had a voice recorder on his table. This time I asked to speak to a lawyer and the interrogator said ok. He rang a lawyer but the lawyer did not pick up his phone. It was around noon. The interrogator then questioned me for about 30 minutes. He accused me of throwing a Molotov cocktail at the settlement. He threatened to destroy our house if I did not confess and then he told me soldiers were at our house a few days earlier and destroyed its contents. At the beginning I denied the accusation but then I confessed. The interrogator questioned me without informing me of my right to silence. At the end he showed me documents in Hebrew and asked me to sign them and I did.
My first military court hearing was on 18 February 2020. It was at Ofer military court and my parents were not informed and did not attend. My detention was extended and the hearing was adjourned. I had about 10 military court hearings and at the last one, which was on 26 July 2020, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to 10 months in prison and fined NIS 4,000. I was also given another 10 months in prison suspended for three years. I accepted the plea bargain because my lawyer told me I would spend more time in prison if I rejected it.
I spent nine days in the cell at Etzion and then I was transferred to Ofer prison. At Ofer I was strip searched and then taken to section 13 where I spent the rest of my prison sentence. I had one family visit and then the family visits were suspended because of the Corona Virus outbreak. I missed my family a lot and the prison did not provide any phones.
I was given an early release from prison on 29 September 2020, and I went home with my father and grandfather who were waiting for me by the gate. I arrived home at around 9:00 p.m.
This testimony was produced with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Military Court Watch.