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Home » Children »

Testimony: M.A.S.I.


Name:  M.A.S.I.
Age:  17
Date:  9 June 2023
Location:  An Nabi Saleh, West Bank
Accusation:  Throwing stones / weapon possession

On 9 June 2023, the home of a 17-year-old minor from An Nabi Saleh was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 4:00 a.m. He reports ill-treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He reports being held in solitary confinement for 40 days. He reports a deterioration in prison conditions after 7 October 2023. He was released on 25 November 2023 in a prisoner exchange. 

I woke up at around 4:00 a.m. to the sound of banging at our front door and the sound of clicking of weapons. My father opened the door and seven Israeli soldiers entered our house. More soldiers waited outside. I was still in bed, feeling unwell from a head injury I received four days earlier. I thought I was dreaming and stayed in bed.
Suddenly a soldier beat me on my leg with the back of his rifle. I was terrified when I realised it was not a dream. The soldier told me to sit up and then one of them took a photo of me. Then he searched my cell phone. Then he called the commander who spoke to me and then confirmed to the soldiers it was me who they were looking for. Then the commander told me I was under arrest. When I asked for the reason he told me I would find out later. 
My younger sister, who was 5-years-old, and my 75-year-old grandmother who lives with us, were terrified. The soldiers remained in our house for about an hour. They did not give my parents any documents. 
One of the soldiers tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie and tightened it very hard. My hands swelled and hurt. Then they took me on foot to the military watchtower at the entrance to our village. 
Once we arrived at the watchtower, a soldier blindfolded me and made me kneel down on the ground for about five hours. Many soldiers were in the area at the time. Some swore at me calling me "a son of a whore". Then a doctor examined my head injury. He knew I had a fractured skull and internal bleeding in my head. 
After the medical check I was put in a military jeep where I sat on a seat. The jeep took me to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem, where I was examined again by a doctor. I arrived there at around 11:00 a.m. I was strip searched before being taken into a cell where I was left in solitary confinement for five days. During this time they took away my medicine and did not give it back to me. I was still tied and blindfolded and my hands swelled badly; there was hardly any blood flow. At around noon a guard removed the tie and the blindfold and I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator was in civilian clothes. There was a camera and a voice recorder in the room. He did not call a lawyer for me. He told me I was brought to his office to say what I had to say. He told me if I told him everything he would send me home, if I didn’t, I wouldn't be sent home. Then he made me sign on a document written in Arabic which said I had the right to remain silent. Then the interrogator told me it would not be in my interests to remain silent. He made me think it was better to speak. 
The interrogator had my phone in front of him. He was looking at the contents asking me questions about some photos he found. He told me if I did not cooperate with him he was going to keep me in solitary confinement like a "forgotten dog". He accused me of six offences but I denied them all. The accusations included throwing stones at soldiers and weapon possession.  
At one point he told me I had to hand over the weapons in my possession and if I did not he was going to turn our house upside down and destroy its contents completely. I told him I had nothing to add to what I had already told him. 
I was interrogated by the same interrogator multiple times over a period of about 12 hours. He would send me to the cell from time to time to eat and then would interrogate me again. I continued to deny the accusations. At the end he asked me to sign a document in Hebrew and I signed without translation; I was tired.
These cycles of interrogations were repeated over the next five days. Each session lasted for hours. I was not informed of my right to silent, except at the first session, and I did not consult with a lawyer.  The first time I met a lawyer was in the military court, two days after my arrest. After each interrogation session I was asked to sign a document written in Hebrew which I did.
I was mentally tired from spending time in solitary confinement. I would rather spend a hundred days inside my home than a single day in solitary confinement. The cell measured about 2x2 meters, not more. The walls in the cell were rough with sharp edges like a knife. I could not rest my head against the walls. There were no windows and a dim flickering light was left on 24 hours. It gave me a headache and affected my eyes. They gave me a mattress to put on the floor, next to an open sewer which had a stinky smell. There was a sink with a water faucet which gushed water at a high pressure making it impossible to drink from.
I spent the whole time thinking about my family, and whether I would ever be released. I had nothing to do but stare at the ceiling. I felt I was a lonely hermit, held against my will. It was hard for me to sleep; the guards made noises to deliberately wake me up. During this time, I had one military court hearing. My parents did not attend because they were not informed and my detention was extended.
On the sixth day I was transferred to Megiddo prison, inside Israel.  I was strip searched before being taken into the collaborators’ cell. This cell is known as the "birds’ cell". I quickly knew the detainee who visited my cell daily was an informant from the types of questions he asked me and the details he already knew. He told me he was the representative of the prisoners. He looked too relaxed and always had coffee or tea with him. He tried to encourage me to read the Quran and to pray. I think he wanted me to feel at ease with him. 
One day he told me he was going to recommend to the prison authorities that they transfer me to the minors’ section. He told me in order to do that he needed some information about me. He wanted to know if I threw stones at soldiers and the names of the other boys who were with me. He asked me for my father’s telephone number claiming he wanted to call him to reassure him about me. He asked the same questions as the interrogator. I was very suspicious. I was careful not to give him any information that would harm me.
I spent five days at that cell before I was transferred to Al-Mascobiyeh interrogation centre, in West Jerusalem. I was placed in solitary confinement for another 35 days. The conditions at Al-Mascobiyeh were harsher than the ones at Ofer. I was moved from one cell to another which was hard. The cells had  dim lights and no windows. I did not know day from night and I was not told the time when I asked. In one of the cells there was a constant sound of dripping water which drove me crazy. They all had open sewers as toilets. The air conditioners were either too hot or too cold. I could not sleep; I had muscle cramps in my legs when it was too cold. I bled from my nose because of my injury and I was not given any medical treatment. 
During the 35 days, I was questioned multiple times. Sometimes for hours, three or four times a day. The interrogations were harsh and included threats. The interrogator told me had I not been a minor he would have torn me apart. I was shown photographs and video footage collected by settlers. I was informed of my right to silence only once, and I saw a lawyer once a week. The lawyer told me he spoke to my family and told them I was fine.  After each session I was asked to sign documents in Hebrew and I always signed. By the end of the 35 days I was completely drained. At the end I confessed to some accusations but not all.
After I confessed I was transferred to the minors’ section where I spent two days. Then there was a problem between the detainees and the prison guards. They raided our cell and beat us severely. One of the guards broke a broom stick on my back, and stuck another stick in my stomach. I was in severe pain. Another guard put out his cigarette in my eye. For two days I could not see well and my eye hurt. I was afraid I would lose my eye sight. I was then transferred to Ofer prison where I spent the rest of my time. 
I had about 16 military court hearings but I was never sentenced. 
After 7 October 2023, conditions in the prison became really bad. Food was not enough, frequent searches of the cells, no telephone calls or family visits, no clean clothes, no hot plate to make coffee and tea, nothing. I was released in the prisoners’ exchange on 25 November 2023. I did not know I was going to be released except later on that day. One of the guards told me in the morning he was going to take me for interrogation. He told some other detainees the same. We were taken to a separate room. Then representatives from the Red Cross met with us and informed us we were going to be released. I could not believe it.
I was released at around midnight. My parents, my cousins and my friends all came to meet me. I arrived home at around 7 a.m. It was chaotic, all the families and friends of the released prisoners came to the town hall to meet their loved ones.