|11 November 2020
|Beit El, West Bank
On 11 November 2020, a 15-year-old minor from Abwein was arrested by Israeli soldiers near Beit El checkpoint during clashes at 2:30 p.m. and accused of throwing stones. 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 2,000. He also received a suspended sentence.
There were clashes with Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint near the settlement of Beit El. It was around 2:30 p.m. My friends and I were watching when all of a sudden we were ambushed by a group of soldiers. They shot stun grenades and rubber bullets in our direction and ordered us to stay put.
Two soldiers grabbed me and pushed me down to the ground and beat me with the back of their guns. They also swore at me and kicked me very hard. Then one of them tied my hands behind my back with two plastic ties and tightened them very hard. I was in severe pain and felt my left wrist was badly damaged. Then another soldier searched me and blindfolded me and made me lie down on the ground face down. I was left there for about an hour.
After an hour I was put in a military jeep where the soldiers beat me very hard. They made me sit on the metal floor and kicked and beat me all over my body. Then they took me to an area near the military watchtower by the settlement. I was left in an open area, sitting on a rock, from around 4:00 p.m. until around 1:00 a.m. Soldiers forced me to keep my head down in a painful position. They spat at me and kicked me as they passed.
At around 1:00 a.m. I was taken to the police station in Binyamin settlement for interrogation. At Binyamin I was left in a small cell for about four hours. At around 5:00 a.m. I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator removed the blindfold but kept me tied. He introduced himself and told me he was the interrogator. When I asked him what he wanted from me he told me he was going to question me about throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. Then he told me I was not allowed to speak unless I am asked to and that I had to answer all his questions. About half way through the interrogation he told me I could speak to a lawyer but he did not call one for me; the first time I spoke to a lawyer was the following day in the afternoon.
Then he accused me of throwing stones and I told him people threw stones because we have been living under occupation for 53 years. He was so angry at me that he slapped me hard on the face. Then he shackled my feet, blindfolded me and took me into another room and left me in the corner for about an hour. During this time, I asked a soldier if I could use the toilet and I asked for some water. The soldier swore at me and told me to shut up. After an hour I was taken back to the interrogation room.
The interrogator asked me whether I had come to my senses. I told him I had not. Then he wanted to know why I spoke to him in that manner and that I should consider him as my big brother or friend. Then he told me he wanted to speak to me sensibly. Then he asked me why I threw stones at soldiers. He also wanted to know whether I was a supporter of Fateh or Hamas. When I told him I was neither he took a taser out of his drawer, turned it on and started to bang the table with it.
The interrogator then he told me he wanted me to confess to throwing a Molotov cocktail. I told him I was not going to confess to anything I did not do. Then he threatened to lock me up in prison for three years if I did not confess. He also threatened to arrest my mother and father if I did not confess. Then he told me my friends, who they had arrested with me, had confessed against me. I asked him to bring my friends in order for me to confront them but he never did.
At the end of the interrogation he showed me a document written in Hebrew and asked me to sign it. When I told him I was not going to sign a document I did not understand he called me a "bastard". Then I was taken back to the cell which did not have any windows or lights. I was left in the cell for about three hours.
After about three hours I was taken to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem, where I was strip searched before being taken to a cell. I spent about an hour there and then I was taken to Megiddo prison, inside Israel. At Megiddo I met a lawyer for the first time on the phone. He told me not to worry and to relax and God willing he was going to release me soon. The conversation was very short and the prison director was listening. Then my ties were removed and I was strip searched and taken to the quarantine section.
I spent 26 days at the quarantine section. On my fifth day at Megiddo I was taken to a military clinic near Ramleh because I felt severe pain in my left wrist. A doctor examined it and told the wrist joint had dislocated because of the tight ties.
On 17 December 2020, I had my first military court hearing via video link. My parents attended and the hearing was adjourned after the military judge extended my detention. I had three more military court hearings and at the last one, which was on 6 January 2021, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to six months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I was also given a suspended sentence of nine months suspended for one year. I did not like the plea bargain and was about to reject it but my lawyer told me the alternative was to spend one year in prison. At that point I felt I had no choice but to accept it.
I spent my prison sentence at Megiddo. I did not have any family visits but I was allowed to call home once every 14 days. The conversations were monitored and lasted about 10 minutes each. In prison I played basketball and attended classes in Arabic, Hebrew and Mathematics.
I was released at Al Jalama checkpoint on 29 March 2021 and I went home with my father and brother-in-law. I arrived home at around 7:00 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.