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Testimony: A.A.I.A.


Name: A.A.I.A.
Age: 17
Date: 19 January 2022
Location: Beit Ummar, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones

On 19 January 2022, a 17-year-old from Beit Ummar was arrested from home at 3:30 a.m. 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 11 days. He was released on NIS 5,000 bail, 1 month later. 

I was expecting Israeli soldiers to raid our home since my friend was arrested and confessed against me. I stayed up late for three weeks waiting. Sure enough, at around 3:30 a.m. on 19 January 2022, soldiers banged at our front door. I quickly hid the house key and my telephone. My father got up and could not find the key to open the front door. I finally felt sorry for my father who was worried that they might break the front door and I gave him the key. Then I hid under the staircase.
My father opened the door and eight soldiers entered our home. The commander asked him who was in the house and whether someone else other than his children was there. The commander also threatened to demolish our house. Then he asked my father for me and then found me under the stair case and asked to check my identity card. The commander then told my father I was under arrest. He made me put my boots on and took me outside where he handcuffed me behind my back with metal handcuffs and tightened them hard; they were painful. I begged him to loosen them but he refused.
Then, without giving my parents any documents, they walked me a short distance to where a military jeep was waiting. They pushed me into the back of the jeep and made me sit on the metal floor. Soldiers inside the jeep beat me all over my body. They slapped and beat me with the back of their guns. I was in pain and could not take it. They made fun of my mother and repeated what she had told them in the house that I had done nothing wrong. 
The jeep drove around for about an hour and then took me to the police station in Etzion settlement. We arrived there at around 4:30 a.m. I was given a quick medical examination and then I was taken to a courtyard where I was left outdoors for about an hour in the cold weather. The soldiers laughed and made noises the whole time and I could not sleep. I was not given any food or drink and I was not allowed to use the toilet. 
After about an hour I was strip searched and told to crouch up and down while naked and then I was taken to a cell where I spent 12 days. For 11 days I was held in solitary confinement. The cell measured about 3 x 3 meters and had a big window which let light in. There was no bed or mattress; instead they gave me some cardboard and a blanket and I slept on the floor. The light was left on 24 hours and I covered it with the blanket in order to be able to sleep. Still, I could not sleep well. I felt exhausted and lethargic and had no energy to do anything. I was in a difficult metal and psychological condition.
I was interrogated on my first day at Etzion. I was interrogated on and off from around 11:00 a.m. until around 8:00 p.m. and I was exhausted. The interrogator sometimes kept me handcuffed and sometimes he removed them. He was a big man in civilian clothes and had a camera and a voice recorder in the room. He phoned a lawyer for me and allowed me to speak to him before he started to question me. The lawyer told me to remain silent and then the line was cut off. The interrogator heard the short conversation. 
Then, without informing me of my right to silence, the interrogator thumped the table and accused me of throwing stones, pipe bombs and a Molotov cocktail. At first, I denied the accusations. When I denied the accusations, the interrogator lost his temper and thumped the table. At times he offered me cigarettes and coffee. He told me my friend had confessed against me. At the end I was so tired that I confessed to throwing stones but denied the other accusations. Then the interrogator took me to another room and I was questioned again in front of another interrogator who was typing. The two spoke in Hebrew. During the second session I did not speak to a lawyer and I was not informed of my tight to silence. I was there for about 15 minutes and then I was asked to sign documents in Hebrew which I signed. 
After spending 11 days in solitary confinement I was taken to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem, where I was strip searched before being taken to section 13. 
My first military court hearing was the following day and it was on zoom on a soldier’s mobile phone. I saw my parents on the screen. My detention was extended. I had about 10 court hearings and at the last one, which was on the day of my release, the military judge decided to release me on bail. My lawyer showed the judge the recorded tape of my interrogation which showed me distressed, freezing cold and in tears. My lawyer argued that the confession was extracted from me under duress. 
The military judge made my parents pay bail of NIS 5,000, and banned me from contacting my friends and going near settlements. He also told me I had to show up in court but did not give me a date for any future hearings. 
I was released on 17 February 2022. They dropped me off at Al Jib checkpoint although I saw my parents were waiting outside Ofer and I told the soldiers to drop me off there but they refused. I managed to call my father and let him know where I was. We arrived home at around 11:00 p.m. 
I was very bored in prison and did not have much to do. I chatted to the other detainees and I smoked in secret. I left school when I was in eighth grade and I now work in construction.