| 18 January 2020
| Beit Fajjar, West Bank
| Weapon possession
On 18 January 2020, a 17-year-old minor from Beit Fajjar was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 1:30 a.m. and accused of weapon possession. He reports ill treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He reports being sentenced to 14 months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. He also received a suspended sentence.
I was arrested from home at around 1:30 a.m. I woke up when Israeli soldiers banged aggressively at our front door. My father answered and about 20 soldiers entered our home. They told my father they were looking for me. Then the commander turned to me and told me to hand over the weapons in my possession. I told him I had no weapons. Then he told my father they wanted to question me about throwing Molotov cocktails, stones and weapons possession. They did not give my family any documents.
Within a short time 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 tight and painful and they left marks on my wrists for a long time. I was left outside in the cold and rain for some time while the soldiers searched the house and caused damage to the furniture.
Later I was put in the back of a troop carrier where I was blindfolded me and made me sit on the metal floor. Inside the troop carrier soldiers pushed me around and called me "a dirty fucker". I was taken to the police station in Etzion settlement where I was left in a shipping container for about four hours. In the early hours of the morning I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator removed the ties and the blindfold and told me I was a trouble maker. He did not allow me to speak to a lawyer and did not inform me of my right to remain silent. Then he questioned me about my work and about my friends. Then he accused me of weapons possession and of causing trouble. He was aggressive and yelled at me to give him information about my friends. I did not give any information.
Then he threatened to arrest my brother and the rest of my family and to destroy our house if I did not confess. He questioned me on and off over three hours. He would leave the room for five minutes and come back and repeat the accusations. I continued to deny the accusations and he did not show me any documents to sign.
After the interrogation they took my photograph and fingerprints and gave me a quick medical examination. Then I was taken to a cell where I spent four days with other boys. Two lawyers came to the cell and took an affidavit form me.
Then I was taken to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem, where I was strip searched before being taken to section 13. The following day I had a court hearing. My parents were not informed and they did not attend. The judge extended my detention and the hearing was adjourned.
During my time at Ofer I had about seven more interrogations at the settlement of Bitar Illit. I was accused of firing live bullets and possessing weapons. In each of the sessions I was allowed to speak to a lawyer before the interrogation. Each time the lawyer told me not to worry and advised me to remain silent. The interrogator listened to the conversation with the lawyer which lasted no more than a few minutes each time. The interrogator then questioned me without informing me of my right to silence. He told me that my friends had confessed against me. Each interrogation session lasted for about 30 minutes.
I was tired of being transferred to Bitar Illit and of the frequent interrogations and in the end, I confessed to possessing weapons and throwing a Molotov cocktail at soldiers. I felt I had no way out since my friends provided detailed confessions against me. After I confessed the interrogator made me sign two documents; one in Hebrew and another in Arabic.
I had eight military court hearings and at the last one, which was in May 2020, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to 14 months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I also received a suspended sentence of one year suspended for five years. I accepted the bargain because I was told by my lawyer that I would be facing at least two-and-a-half years in prison if I rejected it.
I spent the first four months at Ofer prison and then I was transferred to a prison in the Negev, inside Israel. In prison I exercised and played cards with the other prisoners and chatted to them.
I was released on 22 February 2021, at Al-Thayiriya checkpoint and I went home with my father, my brother and two uncles. I arrived home at around 5:00 p.m.