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Testimony: A.H.I.O.


Name: A.H.I.O.
Age: 16
Date: 11 November 2020
Location: Beit El checkpoint, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing Molotov cocktail

On 11 November 2020, a 16-year-old from Qarawat Bani Zeid was arrested near Beit El checkpoint during clashes at 2:30 a.m. He reports ill treatment. He reports consulting with a lawyer prior to interrogation but not being informed of his right to silence prior to interrogation. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison and fined NIS 2,000.

I was with some friends at the Beit El checkpoint near Ramallah at around 2:30 p.m. At the time there were during clashes with Israeli soldiers. Suddenly were surrounded by military vehicles and soldiers who fired stun grenades and rubber bullets at us. They ordered us to stop.
A soldier grabbed me and immediately pushed me to the ground. He hit me on the neck with the back of his gun and caused me a lot of pain. Other soldiers swore at me. Then a soldier tied my hands to the front with two plastic ties on top of each other. He tightened them hard and my hands swelled and were very painful. Then a soldier blindfolded me and made me lie down on the ground face down. 
I was left on the ground, tied and blindfolded, for about an hour. Then I was taken in a troop carrier to the military watchtower by the settlement of Beit El. Inside the troop carrier I sat on a seat. The soldiers beat me very hard and swore at me and called my sisters and mother "whores".
I was left on the ground outside the watchtower from around 3:30 p.m. until around 3:00 a.m. The soldiers forced me to keep my head down for hours and I was in pain. They made me sit on a rock and I was very uncomfortable in that position. At around 3:00 a.m. I was taken to the police station in Binyamin settlement for interrogation. 
At Binyamin I waited in a room and a lawyer came and spoke to me. He told me to take care of myself and to be vigilant. He told me not to confess and advised me to remain silent. I was taken into the interrogation room at around 6:30 a.m.
The interrogator removed the blindfold but kept me tied. He was in civilian clothes and spoke broken Arabic. He did not inform me of my right to silence. He asked me for my name and wanted to know what I was doing near the checkpoint. I told him I was watching the clashes when the soldiers came running towards me. I did not run away because I was not doing anything wrong and did not expect the soldiers to arrest me. He yelled at me and accused me of lying. He then asked me whether I was going to confess or not. I told him I had nothing to confess to.
Then I was taken out of the room and soldiers took me to a troop carrier and dumped me outside. About an hour later I was taken back into the interrogation room. The interrogator accused me of throwing a Molotov cocktail at soldiers. I denied the accusation. Then he told me my friends had confessed against me and then showed me some photographs. I continued to deny the accusation. He questioned me for about an hour and was aggressive and swore at my religion when I refused to confess. 
At the end of the interrogation he showed me a document written in Hebrew and asked me to sign it. At first, I refused to sign but the interrogator kept urging me to sign for about 15 minutes, raising his voice and telling me I had to sign even if I did not understand what was written in the document. In the end I signed.
After the interrogation I was taken to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem, where I was left in a small cell from around 8:30 a.m. until around 7:00 p.m. The soldiers who were around at Ofer swore and spat at me. I was still tied and without any food or drink. I was also sleep-deprived and exhausted. I was in a tiny cell together with three other boys. The cell was very cold but I was so tired that I fell asleep crouching. 
At around 7:00 p.m. I was taken to Megiddo prison, inside Israel. I was strip searched and then taken to the quarantine section where I stayed for 21 days.  There they removed the ties for the first time since I was arrested and my wrists were swollen and painful. 
The following day I had a military court hearing by video link. My parents were not informed and so they did not attend. I had a total of about 15 military court hearings. At the last one, which was on 5 April 2021, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to six months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I accepted the plea bargain because I was told I was facing a year in prison if I rejected it. 
On 20 December 2020 I was transferred to Ofer prison where I spent the rest of my prison sentence. I did not have any family visits because of the Corona Virus and there were no official phone calls. In prison I exercised and played table tennis and I studied for my final high school exams. I missed a lot of school and think it will be hard for me to get the grades I was aiming for. 
I was released at Ofer on 20 April 2021 and I went home with my brother. We arrived home at around 11:00 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.