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Home » Children »

Testimony: B.S.A.L.


Name: B.S.A.L.
Age: 16
Date: 2 November 2022
Location: Aida camp, West Bank
Accusation: Unknown

On 2 November 2022, a 16-year-old minor from Aida refugee camp was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 3:00 a.m. He reports ill-treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. He also received a suspended sentence.  

A night before I was arrested, "Captain Shaker", the Israeli officer in charge of Aida refugee camp, phoned me and told me to meet him at the checkpoint. He threatened that if I did not show up at the checkpoint he was going to send soldiers to get me. 
The following night I received a message on my mobile phone from my friends about Israeli military activity in our camp, it was around 3:00 a.m. I looked out the window and saw lots of soldiers by our front gate. I immediately woke my parents up. My father rushed to the front door and opened it. About 20 soldiers pushed the door and came in. Some of the soldiers were masked. 
The commander asked for my older brother, who is 20. When my mother heard him call his name she panicked and started to shout and tried to push the soldier out of my brother’s bedroom. She was worried about my brother because he had a gunshot wound. A soldier aggressively pushed my mother away and pushed my father into the corner. The soldiers then started to search our house looking for mobile phones. They had a special device that locates mobile phones. They broke my wardrobe while searching. Then they arrested my older brother although he was on crutches. My younger sister, who is 7, was terrified.
Then the commander told me to dress because they wanted to arrest me too. He did not give my parents any documents and did not give a reason for my arrest. I put my clothes on and the soldiers took me outside.
By the front door a soldier tied my hands behind my back with three plastic ties on top of each other. They were very tight and painful and left marks on my wrists for days. He also blindfolded me. The soldiers then took me and my brother on foot towards the entrance to the camp. It took us a long time to walk because my brother was on crutches. 
After reaching the centre of the camp the soldiers continued with me through the cemetery. The soldiers slapped and kicked me whenever we passed a grave. They slapped me on the face and kicked me on my back and stomach. I still have pain in my back until this day, especially at night.
I was taken to the military base at Rachels Tomb and the settlers there abused me. They called me "a son of a whore". By then it was around 5:30 a.m. I was left outside the military base until around 7:00 a.m. and then I was put in the back of a military jeep where I sat on a seat. The jeep took me to Atarot police station. I arrived there at around 8:00 p.m. I was tired and sleepy.
At Atarot I was left in an outdoor cage until around 3:00 p.m. the next day. It was cold and one of the soldiers made me take off my warm jacket and took it away from me. When I told him I was cold and needed my jacket he refused to give it back and told me it was not cold. They did not give me any food or water and did not allow me to use the toilet. At around 3:00 p.m. a soldier removed the blindfold and took me into the interrogation room. 
The interrogator removed the plastic ties and replaced them with metal handcuffs. The interrogator was wearing civilian clothes and had a camera in the room. He started to question me before allowing me to speak to a lawyer. He did not tell me about any other rights. He showed me photographs of other boys and wanted me to give their names. I told him I did not know them. 
Later on during the interrogation he called a lawyer and handed me the phone to speak to him. The lawyer told me not to be afraid because these people are not scary. I spoke for a couple of minutes while the interrogator listened.
The interrogator spoke to me through a translator who was aggressive and accused me of lying when I told him I did not know any of the boys in the photographs. I was questioned for about two hours. The interrogator threatened to arrest my parents if I did not give him the names of the boys. He told me he was going to send a special unit to our house to damage it. He told me if I gave him the names and told him what each of the boys does during the day he was going to send me home. He also told me if I did not cooperate with him he was going to send me to prison for a long time.
The interrogator also showed me a photograph of me standing on the side of the road doing nothing. I denied it was me. He then told me I was wearing the same boots as in the photo and accused me of lying. 
At the end of the interrogation he did not ask me to sign any documents and I continued to deny knowing the boys. Then I was taken to Binyamin police station for another interrogation.
The second interrogator was in civilian clothes. He allowed me to speak to a lawyer before he started to question me. It was the same lawyer I spoke to at Atarot and he told me the same thing. The conversation lasted for a minute and the interrogator was listening.
The interrogator did not inform me of my right to silence and did not show me any documents about my rights. He was aggressive and thumped the table all the time. He showed me the same photographs as the first interrogator and wanted me to tell him the names of the boys. He told me if I gave him the names he would allow my father to attend the interrogation. He swore at me calling me "a son of a whore". He questioned me over the course of 10 days and did not allow me to leave the interrogation room. I sat on a chair and put my head on the desk at night to try and fall asleep. 
I had a very hard time during those 10 days. I started to doubt myself and wondered what I had done to deserve this punishment. I realised I had no choice; I either confessed to get out of that office or refused to confess and stayed there. My parents did not know where I was and were worried about me.
The interrogator turned the dim light off at night before he left. They brought my food to the interrogation room. I was questioned for about an hour each day and then I was left alone. At the end I was tired and fed up and confessed to throwing stones. He wanted to know whether anyone had sent me to throw stones and I told him no one did. After I confessed he asked me to sign a document written in Hebrew after he translated it for me. I then signed the document. 
Then I was taken to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem, where I was strip searched before being taken into section 13. On the same day I had a military court hearing. My parents did not attend because no one told them. My detention was extended. 
I had five military court hearings. On 18 January 2023, I had my last hearing in which I was sentenced in a plea bargain to six months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I was also given a suspended sentence of six months valid for five years. I accepted the deal because I knew the date when I would be going to go home.
I spent the rest of my sentence at Ofer. My parents visited me three times and I was allowed to call home from a telephone provided by the prison authorities once every two weeks. I attended classes in Arabic, Hebrew and mathematics but did not benefit. I left school when I was in tenth grade. 
I was released on 28 February 2023, at Al-Jib checkpoint. My parents were told to wait at Ofer. I called my father from a taxi driver’s phone and my father told the driver to take me to Ofer. I arrived home at around midnight and my father took me out for dinner.
The prison authorities never gave me back my telephone. The intelligence officer called me on my father’s telephone after my release and told me if I wanted my phone back I needed to meet him at the checkpoint. I refused to go.
I will probably never be issued a permit to work in Israel or to visit Jerusalem. The last time I visited Jerusalem was when I was five years old. I don’t think I will ever see Jerusalem again.