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Testimony: J.M.D.Z.


Name: J.M.D.Z.
Age: 17
Date: 25 April 2022
Location: Beit Ummar, West Bank
Accusation: Shooting

On 25 April 2022, a 17-year-old from Beit Ummar was arrested from home at 6:00 a.m. and accused of involvement in a shooting. He reports ill treatment. He reports being informed of his right to silence but not consulting with a lawyer prior to interrogation. He reports being held in solitary confinement for 25 days. He was released 2 months later on payment of NIS 1,000.

I woke up at around 6:00 a.m. to the sound of loud banging at the front door. An Israeli soldier broke open our front door and many soldiers entered our home. I got up and went to the living room which looked like a battlefield. 
The commander asked me for my name and then grabbed me abruptly and took me to my bedroom. He pushed me to the floor and swore at me. He accused me of causing troubles together with the boys I hang out with. Then he ordered his soldiers to search our house. They were looking for my mobile phone but did not find it. We were not given any documents.
Then a soldier tied my hands to the front with two plastic ties on top of each other and tightened them hard. I was in pain. I wanted to say goodbye to my family but they did not allow me. We got into an argument and then a soldier tied the hands of my father and brother and told them they were under arrest. Then I was taken outside where I was blindfolded. I was then taken to the back of a military jeep which was waiting outside our front door. They made me sit on the metal floor and they put my brother and father in another jeep.
The jeep drove me to the military watchtower at the entrance to my village where I was left on the metal floor of the jeep, tied and blindfolded, for about two hours. My brother and father were held at the watchtower for about two hours and then they were released. Then the jeep drove me to the police station in Etzion settlement. On the way soldiers swore at me and one soldier struck me on my head with the back of his gun and on my leg and waist. I was in pain. 
When we arrived at Etzion I was in such pain that they took me to a hospital inside Israel. I spent about five hours at the hospital. They examined me and told me everything was ok. Then I was taken to a cell at Ofer where I was strip searched. I spent 25 days in solitary confinement at Ofer.
The cell measured about 1 x 1 meters. I could barely sleep because my feet touched the walls on one end and my head touched the toilet at the other end. The light was left on 24 hours and the air conditioner was very cold. There were no windows and I could not tell day from night. I was stressed and thought of my family the whole time. I prayed and was desperate to get out. During the 25 days in solitary confinement I was interrogated every day except Fridays and Saturdays, starting on the day I arrived. 
At the first interrogation, the interrogator tied my hands to a chair. He wore civilian clothes. He asked me if I wanted to speak to a lawyer and I told him I did. He phoned a lawyer but the lawyer did not answer. I asked him to call another lawyer but he refused and told me he would call one later. Then he showed me a document in Arabic and Hebrew with details about my rights including my right to remain silent. 
After showing me the document the interrogator yelled at me and accused me of shooting at soldiers. I denied the accusation. He accused me of lying and then three other interrogators joined him and they were all yelling at me, telling me to confess and accusing me of lying. One of them threatened to lock me up in prison for 10 years while another threatened to arrest my mother and father. I was questioned for about three hours; from around 11:00 a.m. until around 2:00 p.m. 
After interrogation I was taken back to the cell for a break and then I was questioned again. This was repeated on a daily basis: two rounds of harsh interrogations. When I was taken back to the cell the soldiers did not allow me to sleep. They banged at the door to wake me up. On average, I slept two hours a day. I was interrogated while sleep deprived. I was physically and mentally drained, I could not think straight and at times I felt dizzy.  Sometimes I was also interrogated by policemen. These were less harsh and after each session I was asked to sign a document in Arabic which I signed. 
The whole time I denied the accusation and I told the interrogators I was not involved in the shooting. I knew if I confessed I would at least be taken out of solitary confinement, but I could not possibly confess to something I did not do. I did not speak to any layer and was informed of my right to silence only once, before the first interrogation.
Two days after I was arrested I had my first military court hearing. I was taken to Ofer court but my parents did not attend because they were not informed. The military judge extended my detention to allow for more interrogations. I had about 10 court hearings and at the last one, which was on the day of my release, the judge released me without charge because the prosecutor failed to present a charge sheet. The judge wanted my parents to pay NIS 5,000 but my parents refused. He then reduced it to NIS 1,000 and my parents agreed to pay. I was also told I would be monitored for 6 months and be given a bond of three years in prison valid for five years in case I am arrested again. I felt this was unfair as there was no evidence against me, but I accepted the conditions because I wanted to go home.
After spending 25 days in solitary confinement I was taken to the minors’ section at Ofer where I was strip searched and I spent my remaining time there. I was released on 20 June 2022, at Al Jib checkpoint and I went home with my parents. I arrived home at around 2:00 a.m.