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Testimony: M.H.M.Z.


Name:  M.H.M.Z.
Age:  16
Date:  7 April 2021
Location:  Beit Ummar, West Bank
Accusation:  Throwing pipe bombs

On 7 April 2021, a 16-year-old from Beit Ummar was arrested from home at 1:30 a.m. and accused of throwing pipe bombs. He reports ill treatment. He reports consulting with a lawyer prior to interrogation but not being informed of his right to silence by the interrogator. He reports being held in solitary confinement for 18 days. He was sentenced to 3 months in prison and fined NIS 2,000.

I had a painful back injury which was keeping me awake.  At around 1:30 a.m. I heard banging and heavy footsteps. I looked out the window and saw about 30 Israeli soldiers running towards our house. They banged the door downstairs and told my father he had five seconds to open or else they were going to break it open. My father rushed downstairs and opened the door.
About 15 soldiers entered our home and asked my father for our names. When he mentioned my name, the commander told him I was under arrest. Four soldiers followed me upstairs to my bedroom and searched it. They found a yellow T-shirt and a pair of boots and took them. Then they took me downstairs. They did not give us any documents.  
I barely had time to say good bye to my family before the soldiers took me outside where they tied my hands to the front with two plastic ties on top of each other. The ties were very tight and painful. Then they blindfolded me and made me sit outside the front door for about one-and-a-half hours while the soldiers remained inside the house doing nothing.
After about one-and-a-half hours a police car pulled up and a policeman asked me to hand over my mobile phone. When I told him I did not have it on me he went inside and took the phone from my nine-year-old sister who had hidden it under her pajamas. The policeman took the telephone and left.
After the policeman left the soldiers walked me towards the military watchtower at the entrance to my village and left me there for about an hour. Then I was taken to the back of a troop carrier. A soldier beat me on the back with the butt of his gun. When I sat on a seat a soldier banged my head against the window.
The troop carrier drove to the nearby settlement of Karmi Zur where they dropped soldiers off and then continued on to the police station in Etzion settlement. We arrived at Etzion at around 4:00 a.m. I was left outside a clinic for about 30 minutes and then I was given a medical examination. The doctor asked me whether I had been beaten up by soldiers and I told him I had. Then he gave me a medical report to sign and I saw he had circled the wrong answer to the question about physical abuse. I told him I was not going to sign it until he corrected the answer. He then circled the other answer and I crossed the first one to make sure it was clear I was subjected to physical abuse. At around 6:30 a.m. I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator removed the ties and the blindfold and handed me a telephone to speak to a lawyer. He turned the speaker on and was listening. The lawyer told me I had the right to remain silent and then the line was cut off. Then, without informing me of my right to silence, the interrogator accused me of making pipe bombs and throwing them at soldiers.  Then he claimed he had video footage of the incident and then played it for me. The footage showed a boy doing nothing but wearing an identical T-shirt to mine. I denied the accusation and told him the boy was not me.
I was interrogated non-stop from around 6:30 a.m. until around 4:30 p.m. and I continued to deny the accusation. The interrogator was aggressive and raised his voice at me and verbally abused me. He questioned me about things that had nothing to do with the accusation. He wanted to get information from me about people from my village. I told him I did not know anyone and did not interfere in other peoples’ business. He also told me my friends had confessed against me but I continued to deny the accusation. Then he threatened to arrest my parents and brother. I later found out he had summoned my older brother and questioned him about me for about eight hours before he released him. He told my brother he was willing to issue my mother a permit to go for medical treatment in Israel if he cooperated with him.
Towards the end I was exhausted as I had not slept at all and was not given anything to eat.  The interrogator did not ask me to sign any documents. After the interrogation I was strip searched before being taken to a cell. I was left in the cell in solitary confinement for 18 days. During this time, I was interrogated 11 times by four interrogators. 
Before each interrogation session I asked to speak to a lawyer. The lawyer told me to stick to my position. The interrogators never informed me of my right to silence. Each round lasted for about 2-3 hours. During this time, I lost about 10 kg of my weight. I was not shown any documents to sign except on the last interrogation when I refused to sign a document written in Hebrew.
My first military court hearing was a day after I was arrested. It was conducted via video link. My parents did not attend. In all I had about 20 military court hearings and at the last one, which was on the day when I was released, I was sentenced in a plea bargain. The court was satisfied with the time I had already spent in prison for lack of evidence. By then I had spent three months in prison. My parents were fined NIS 2,000. I was also given a suspended sentence of eight months suspended for three years. Part of this suspended sentence was from a previous arrest. I accepted the plea bargain because I was desperate to go home. 
After 18 days in solitary confinement I was transferred to the quarantine section at Megiddo prison, inside Israel. I was strip searched and I spent 10 days there before being transferred to the juvenile section. I was released at Salem checkpoint on 16 June 2021, and I took a taxi to Huwwara because I was released before my parents arrived. I met my parents at Huwwara and we all arrived home at around 9:00 p.m. In prison I cooked and I played table tennis. I did not have any family visits.  
This testimony was produced with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Military Court Watch.