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Testimony: Y.W.A.H.


Name: Y.W.A.H.
Age: 17
Date: 21 January 2022
Location: Azzun, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones

On 21 January 2022, a 17-year-old minor from Azzun was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 4:00 p.m. during clashes and accused of throwing stones. He reports being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He reports being held in solitary confinement for 6 days. He was sentenced to 4 months in prison and fined NIS 2,000.

There were clashes with Israeli soldiers at the entrance to my village at around 4:00 p.m. I was followed by a military jeep to the centre of my village.  I ran as fast as I could to a friend’s house. The soldiers saw me and followed me into the house where they arrested me. 
A soldier tied my hands behind my back with two plastic ties on top of each other. He tightened them hard and I was in pain. My hands swelled and I asked the soldier to loosen the ties but he did not do anything. Only about three hours later did he replace them with looser ones. 
After I was tied I was taken to the back of a military jeep where I sat on the metal floor. Inside the jeep soldiers verbally abused me. I sat between the soldiers’ boots. The soldiers did not beat me and the commander was in the jeep and he kept an eye on me. 
I was taken to a nearby settlement where I was left in a shipping container and a soldier blindfolded me. I was left in the container for about two hours and nothing happened to me. I was not given any food or drink but I was allowed to use the toilet.
After about two hours the commander came and accused me of throwing stones at settler cars and soldiers on the main road. He did not inform me of my rights and I denied the accusation. Then I was taken to a military base where I was given a quick medical examination. 
After the medical exam I was taken to Huwwara military base where I was strip searched and asked to crouch up and down. I found this embarrassing and humiliating. I spent 10 days in a cell at Huwwara, six of which were in solitary confinement.
The cell measured about 1 x 1.5 meters and had dark rough walls which I could not lean against. It had a window but it was shut and covered the whole time. I could not tell whether it was day or night except when they woke me up and gave me my breakfast. The weather was cold and I was not given any blankets. I was cold the whole time and found it hard to cope especially in the beginning. Then I told myself I had no choice but to accept the situation I was in.  
Two days after my arrest I was taken for interrogation at Salem interrogation centre. I was not blindfolded but I was handcuffed and shackled. The interrogator wore civilian clothes and had a camera in the room. He did not remove the handcuffs or the shackles. He offered me tea and cigarettes and pretended to be my friend. Then when he realised I was not going to cooperate with him he became aggressive and raised his voice at me. 
The interrogator did not allow me to speak to a lawyer and did not inform me of my right to silence. He accused me of throwing stones at settler cars and military vehicles on the main road. I denied the accusation. He then accused me of weapons possession which I also denied. He told me that soldiers had testified against me and yelled in my face. He told me he had revoked my brother’s work permit and I later found out he indeed had. 
He questioned me for about 90 minutes. At the end he asked me to sign a document written in Hebrew but I refused to sign something I did not understand. Then he told me there was nothing for me to worry about because the session was recorded, still I refused to sign.  After the interrogation I was taken back to Huwwara. 
My first military court hearing was two days after the interrogation. It was by video link and my parents were not informed and did not attend. In total I had three military court hearings. 
At the last hearing, which was a month after my arrest, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to four months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I also received a suspended sentence but I don't know the details. I accepted this plea bargain because otherwise I was facing eight months in prison based on the accusations in the charge sheet. I accepted it without hesitation. 
After spending 10 days at Huwwara I was transferred to Megiddo prison, inside Israel. I was strip searched on arrival and spent two days at the quarantine section before being transferred to the juvenile section where I spent the rest of my prison sentence. 
In prison I had one family visits and was allowed to make phone calls from a phone provided by the prison authorities once every two weeks. I spent a lot of time sleeping and feeling bored. I attended classes in Arabic, Hebrew and Mathematics.
I was released on 27 March 2022, and I went home with my brother. I arrived home in the early evening.