|2 January 2020
|Hizma, West Bank
|Throwing stones/Molotov cocktail
On 2 January 2020, a 17-year-old minor from Hizma was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 3:30 a.m. and accused of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. He reports ill treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He was sentenced to 11 months in prison and fined NIS 3,000. He also received a suspended sentence.
I finished the night shift at the restaurant where I worked at around 3:30 a.m. and went home. Shortly after I got home a large group of Israeli soldiers surrounded the neighbourhood and then I heard loud banging at our front door. My mother ran to open the door before the soldiers could break it and about 30 soldiers entered our home. They were all wearing masks on their faces and they looked scary. More soldiers were outside.
The commander pointed at me but did not say anything. Then another soldier started to drag me out of our house. My father shouted at him and told him to allow me to dress and then the commander started to count to 10, giving me just enough time to put a jacket on. They barely spent a few minutes in our house before taking me away. They did not give us any reasons or provide any documentation.
Once outside a soldier tied my hands to the front with two plastic ties tied together in a chain. They were very tight and cut into my wrists and caused me a lot of pain. The mark where they cut into my wrists lasted for a month. He also blindfolded me and pushed me to walk very fast although it was very difficult. They kicked me on my legs and swore at me. On the way I tripped and fell to the ground and the soldiers jumped on top of me thinking I was going to do something wrong.
We then arrived at a troop carrier that was waiting. I was put in the troop carrier and made me sit on the metal floor. The carrier drove a short distance and then stopped and I was told I could sit on a seat and a soldier fastened a seat belt around me. On the way the soldiers were making fun of me and someone slapped me on the head.
I was taken to the police station in Binyamin settlement where I was left, tied and blindfolded, from around 4:00 a.m. until around 9:00 a.m. I was left in a room and I was surrounded by soldiers. I tried to rest my head on the table to sleep but soldiers woke me up to prevent me from sleeping. Then at around 9:00 a.m. the plastic ties were replaced with metal handcuffs. My ankles were also shackled and a soldier connected the shackles to the handcuffs. I was very uncomfortable. Then I was taken to the interrogation room.
As soon as I entered the interrogation room the interrogator removed the blindfold but kept the handcuffs and the shackles on. Then he accused me of throwing stones and a Molotov cocktail at soldiers. He told me six boys from my village had testified against me. I denied the accusation. About 10 minutes into the interrogation the interrogator told me I had the right to consult with a lawyer. He phoned a lawyer and put him on speaker phone and allowed me to talk to him. The lawyer told me the interrogation was a normal procedure and that I had the right to remain silent. I barely spoke for 45 seconds before the interrogator turned the phone off.
Then the interrogator told me I could shut up and not speak or I could speak and the two of us could have a conversation and reach an agreement. He told me the choice was mine. I thought about remaining silent but then I was curious to know what evidence the interrogator had against me so I decided not to remain silent.
The interrogator was sometimes calm and other time he was aggressive. When he yelled at me I raised my voice back at him and I threatened to file a law suit against the soldiers who beat me. He shouted back at me and accused me of endangering the lives of children and innocent people and the soldiers were just doing their job.
He questioned me nonstop form around 9:00 a.m. until around 1:30 p.m. He threatened to lock me up in prison for a long time where I would learn harsh lessons and waste the best years of my life. At the end of the interrogation he wanted me to sign documents written in Hebrew but I refused to sign. Then he signed instead. Then they took my photograph, fingerprints and a DNA sample from my mouth. I asked for some water and food but a soldier told me to wait until later.
I was then re-blindfolded and taken to a military jeep which took me to Al Ram military base. I was put in a shipping container and I asked again for some food and water but I was not given any.
At around 3:30 p.m. I was taken to Ofer military court, near Jerusalem. My parents did not attend the hearing because they were not informed. I did not understand much of what went on but the military judge extended my detention and the hearing was adjourned.
After court I was taken to Ofer prison where I was strip searched before being taken to section 19. A few days later I was taken for another court hearing but I was never taken into the court room. I waited from around 8:30 a.m. until around 4:00 p.m. and then I was taken back to prison. I had fever and felt sick.
The following day I was taken back to the military court. My mother was there and she noticed I was not feeling well and she was worried. My detention was extended once again for more interrogation. The following day I was taken back to Binyamin police station for another interrogation.
There were two interrogators in the room. One of them told me I had the right to remain silent and the right to speak to a lawyer. He phoned a lawyer for me and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer tried to reassure me and told me not to worry because they won’t beat me. I spoke to him for a few seconds and the interrogators were listening. I again decided not to remain silent.
The two interrogators played two different roles: one was calm and polite and the other was aggressive and threatening. He swore at me and raised his voice many times. Half way through the interrogation the calm interrogator told me he did not think I liked him and therefore he was leaving. He told me the other interrogator would take care of me. They questioned me for about three hours and accused me of the same accusations which I denied. Then one of them showed me a document written in Hebrew and asked me to sign it but I refused to sign.
I had six military court hearings which my parents attended. At the last one, which was on 11 March 2020, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to 11 months in prison and a fine of NIS 3,000. I was also given another one year in prison suspended for five years. I accepted the plea bargain because the military judge encouraged me to. He told me if he saw me again in his court room he was going to give me 24 months in prison at least.
I spent about two months in Ofer prison but when I turned 18 I was transferred to a prison inside Israel. I had three family visits and I called my parents once a month. I was released at Al Thahriyeh checkpoint on 10 November 2020 and I went home with my parents. I arrived home at around 5:00 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.