Testimony - M.H.
|Date of incident:
|15 May 2013
|Ash Shuyukh, West Bank
On 15 May 2013, a 14-year-old boy from Ash Shuyukh village, near Hebron, was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 8:30 a.m. He reports ill-treatment and being held in solitary confinement for 2 days. He reports being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He reports spending 2 weeks in prison before being released on bail and house arrest.
I left the house at around 8:30 a.m. to go to an optician in Hebron to have my glasses repaired. As I walked to catch a bus I saw lots of Israeli soldiers and stones on the ground. At the time I didn’t think much of it as soldiers are always in our village, which is situated near the settlement of Kiryat Arba. Three girls walked by the soldiers and were not bothered. When I was about three metres from the soldiers one of them shouted at me. I was so scared I started to run. I couldn’t help it.
The soldiers chased me and fired tear gas in my direction. A military Jeep then blocked my way. I fell on the ground and they caught me. About eight soldiers started to kick me and beat me with the butts of their rifles. They beat me all over my body, on my head and my back. A soldier dragged me by my arms while another kicked me in the tummy. They dragged me all the way to where an army vehicle was parked. They placed a hood over my head, shackled my feet with metal shackles and tied my hands to the back with metal handcuffs.
I was then pushed into the vehicle and made to sit on the metal floor. The vehicle drove away and one of the soldiers kept pushing my head down. On the way soldiers slapped me and verbally abused me saying bad things about my mother and my sister. They called them whores. A soldier also hit me on the upper part of my back with a hard object. It caused me so much pain. I later showed the bruise to the military judge in court.
The vehicle drove for about 30 minutes before arriving at the settlement of Kiryat Arba. I was pushed out of the vehicle and taken to see an interrogator. The interrogator asked me for my personal information whilst I was still hooded and shackled. I was then taken outside where I waited for about five minutes. I asked for water and to use the bathroom. A soldier brought some water but he drank it. He lifted the hood so I could see. He asked me if I wanted some water but again he drank it. I wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom.
I was then taken back to the same interrogator. He accused me of throwing stones. He claimed I threw stones sometime ago, but did not say when. I denied the accusation and told the interrogator exactly what I had done that morning. He then told me that if I confessed he would call my father to come and pick me up. He asked me about other children and kept yelling and shouting at me. He interrogated me for about four hours. He kept repeating the same questions and asked me how many stones I had thrown and told me he would release me immediately if I confessed. I wasn’t given any food or water and I didn’t see a lawyer before I was interrogated. Nobody told me anything about any rights.
Towards the end of the four hours the interrogator and two guards were shouting louder and louder. They were banging on the table and the walls. I was so tired and scared I confessed to throwing three stones. The interrogator made me sign a document written in Hebrew. When I asked him what it said he told me it was my confession. I was then taken to another interrogator. He removed the hood but kept the shackles and cuffs on. I heard somebody next door call the interrogator Sami. He asked me the same questions. I told him I confessed to throwing three stones. I was then taken to a person in the room next door who took my figure prints and my photo.
I was then taken to a room where I waited for about six hours. I was still without food or water and was in desperate need of a bathroom. I had the hood still on, and was shackled and handcuffed. I called for them to remove the hood but no one responded. At around 11:00 p.m. I was taken in a vehicle to Megiddo prison, inside Israel. The journey took about four hours during which the hood was removed.
I was physically searched when I arrived at Megiddo and was taken to a cell without windows. There was a metal bed with a very thin mattress and a toilet. I was kept there by myself. My shackles and handcuffs were removed. I spent the whole night there but I couldn’t sleep. I was still without food or drink and was very tired.
At 6:00 a.m. I was taken to a military court in Salem near Jenin. I waited there until 3:00 p.m. when I was told I needed to leave. They brought some food just as I was leaving so I didn’t eat. I was taken in a military vehicle but I wasn’t told where I was being taken. At around 5:00 p.m. we arrived at Ofer military court. I waited for about five minutes before they called my name. In court I saw my parents but I wasn’t allowed to speak to them. I also saw a lawyer for the first time. After some arguments in court I was told the judge had adjourned the session.
I was then taken to Ramle prison inside Israel. I was kept in a small cell without windows for three days. They brought in one person to stay with me on the first day and I think he was an informer. I tried not to engage with him. After the first day I was alone and didn’t see or speak to anyone and I had no idea how long I was going to be kept there for. The guards turned the lights off at night and the cell was pitch dark, I couldn’t see anything, which was scary. Three days later I was moved to another room with nine other people, some of whom were older than my father.
All up I think I had four military court hearings. At the last one the judge decided to release me on bail and ordered that I be placed under house arrest for one year. The judge spoke to my father four times during the session making him pledge he would make sure I don’t leave the house except to come to court. I was very happy to hear I was going to be released and didn’t realise at the time how hard being under house arrest was going to be.
When the session ended I was taken back to Ramle prison. At 2:00 a.m. that night I was dropped off at Beit Sira checkpoint west of Ramallah. A soldier untied my feet and hands and walked behind me until I got to the other side of the checkpoint. I walked by myself in the dark and stopped a car that happened to pass by. I asked the driver to take me to my uncle’s house in Ramallah. I got to my uncle’s house around 3:30 a.m. I had to wake them up but they were very happy to see me. My uncle called my parents to let them know I was safe.
I was released on 28 May 2013, two weeks after I was first arrested and have stayed home since then. I find it very hard to stay home while all my friends go to places and have fun without me. I cannot stand it. The other day I lost my temper and slammed the door so hard that the wall cracked. My parents were very upset.