|17 October 2021
|Ein Qinya, West Bank
On 17 October 2021, a 17-year-old minor from Ein Qinya was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 7:00 p.m. near a settlement and accused of throwing stones. He reports ill treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He reports being held in solitary confinement for 15 days. He reports being released 3 weeks later and fined NIS 2,500.
I was with my friends in an area near a settlement when four Israeli soldiers approached. It was around 7:00 p.m. One of the soldiers hit me in the eye with the back of his gun and caused bleeding in my cornea. I still have a scar in my eye nearly ten months later. Then, they pushed me to the ground face down and twisted my arms behind my back and sat on me. This caused my stomach muscles to tear. They also swore at me.
A soldier tied my hands to the back with a twisted metal wire and tightened it hard. I was in severe pain and the wire left marks on my wrists for a long time. The soldiers searched my phone and asked me about my friends; they wanted to know their names. They left me there until around 9:30 p.m.
At around 9:30 p.m. the soldiers led me towards a gap in the fence around the settlement and continued to walk me for about 30 minutes. Then I was taken in a military jeep to a military base. I sat on a seat inside the jeep and the soldiers swore at me on the way. Inside the jeep soldier blindfolded me and replaced the twisted metal wire with four plastic ties: two on each wrist and the four ties were connected together like a chain. The ties were so tight that they cut into my wrists and I bled.
On arrival at the military base I was taken to a shipping container and they turned the air conditioner on cold, it felt like a freezer. Inside the shipping container I was strip searched. Then they let me put on my under shirt and I was left there without my boxer shorts in the freezing shipping container for about 20 minutes. I felt humiliated. Then a soldier helped me put my clothes on because my hands were tied. Then he handed me a telephone and told me the area commander wanted to speak to me.
The commander asked me about my older brother and then he asked me to cooperate with him and help him if I wanted to go home. Then he asked me for the names of my friends who were with me when I was arrested. Then I was taken to a courtyard where they tied my hands to a plastic chair. I was left there in the cold weather until the following morning. The soldiers did not allow me to sleep.
In the early hours of the morning I was taken to a clinic at the settlement where I was given a COVID test. The person who tested me saw my injured eye and my bleeding wrists but did not do anything. Then I was taken back to the military base where I was left in the courtyard until the afternoon. During this whole time, I was not given any food or drink and I was not allowed to use the toilet. The first time I was given anything to eat was at around 11:00 p.m. when I was given a sandwich.
At around 11:00 p.m. I was taken to the police station in the settlement of Modi’in Illit. I arrived there at around 1:00 a.m. I was left in a courtyard until around 2:00 a.m. when an interrogator took me to the interrogation room.
The interrogator removed the ties and the blindfold. He wore an Israeli police uniform and spoke to me in good Arabic. He had a camera and a voice recorder in the room and had an assistant who was typing on a computer. He asked me for my name and age and for the names of the other boys who were with me. Then he wanted to know why I throw stones at soldiers and settlers. I denied the accusation. He started to question me before informing me of my rights. Then he called my father and told him to appoint me a lawyer.
The interrogator did not allow me to speak to a lawyer and did not inform me of my right to silence. He told me he was going to wait 30 minutes to give my father enough time to appoint a lawyer and said if my father does not find a lawyer 30 minutes he would start to interrogate me anyway.
Then he accused me of throwing stones and wanted to know the names of the other boys who were with me. When I denied the accusation, he accused me of lying. Then he turned the camera and the voice recorder off and slapped, punched and swore at me. He also threatened to lock me up in prison for a long time if I did not cooperate with him. I was tired and sleep deprived as I hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours. I continued to deny the accusation but then I gave him the names of my friends because I was exhausted.
I was questioned for about four hours and at the end the interrogator asked me to sign documents written in Hebrew. I asked him for a translation but he refused. He then shouted at me and banged the table and forced me to sign and I did because I was fed up and tired.
After the interrogation I was taken outside into a corridor where I was left on a chair from around 4:00 a.m. until around noon. I did not sleep at all. Then I was taken outside where I sat at a picnic table opposite a cafeteria. A soldier handcuffed me and shackled me and connected the handcuffs and the shackles in a way that I could not sit up straight. My tail bone hurt because of the sitting position I was forced to take. In the afternoon I was taken in a military jeep somewhere I did not know. There, I was strip searched again and asked to crouch up and down while naked.
After being strip searched I was taken to a room the size of a small bathroom. I was given two blankets and I slept until the following morning; I was tired and sleep deprived. There was a bunkbed and a sink and a urinal in the wall. I think I slept for 36 hours. I was left in solitary confinement in this cell for a week. The cell had a small window which let in some light but a flash light was left on inside the cell 24 hours. I did not see anyone or speak to anyone and I had no idea where I was. I was scared and depressed. I slept and ate and went back to sleep to pass the time, I did nothing. I was in destress and thought about my family the whole time.
A week later I was taken downstairs to another cell where I spent another eight days in solitary confinement. The only difference was that were other detainees on the same floor. I heard voices and I asked where I was and someone told me I was at Huwwara. The cell was slightly bigger but because there was an extra bed the space seemed smaller.
After 15 days at Huwarra I was taken to Megiddo prison, inside Israel, where I was strip searched and asked to crouch up and down again. Then I was taken to a section reserved for special cases where the person is monitored by CCTV cameras 24 hours a day. I think they were worried I might try to hurt myself because I was mentally and psychologically distressed by this stage.
My first military court hearing was two days after my arrest. A soldier handed me a mobile phone and told me it was my court hearing. I saw my father on the screen. The military judge extended my detention. In all I had six hearings. At the last one, which was three days before I was released, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to a fine of NIS 2,500, a bond of NIS 4,500 payable if I am arrested within 18 months, and a suspended sentence of 18 months, valid for 18 months. I was also banned from entering Israel or any settlements.
In prison I did not have any family visits which was hard and I did not have access to a telephone. I slept most of the time. I was released at Al Jalama checkpoint on 7 November 2021. My family were not waiting for me because they were not informed of my release. The father of another detainee offered to take me to his house for the night. I went with him and then called my family and my brother picked me up at around 3:00 a.m. We arrived home at around 4:30 a.m.
Until this day I still suffer from the ordeal I experienced in solitary confinement. I think it will take a while before I recover fully.