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Testimony: S.Z.S.A.


Name: S.Z.S.A.
Age: 14
Date: 16 December 2020
Location: Beit Ummar, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones

On 16 December 2020, a 14-year-old from Beit Ummar was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 3:00 a.m. 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 7 days. He was sentenced to 1.5 months in prison and fined NIS 1,500. He also received a suspended sentence. 

I woke up to the sound of Israeli soldiers raiding our neighbour’s house at around 3:00 a.m. Shortly afterwards the soldiers came to our house. My father opened the door before the soldiers broke it down and about 20 soldiers entered our home. 
The soldiers asked to see my father’s identity card then took him to the living room by himself where the commander talked to him for about 15 minutes. Then my father came out and told me and my brother to get dressed because we were both going to be arrested. My father told us they wanted to question us about throwing stones. The commander did not give my parents any documents.
Then a soldier tied my hands to the front with one plastic tie and tightened it very hard. My hands swelled and turned blue and I was in severe pain. He also blindfolded me.Then I was taken to the back of a military troop carrier. I wanted to sit on a seat but a soldier lifted me up and threw me on the metal floor.
The troop carrier drove to the police station in Etzion settlement. When we arrived I was given a quick medical examination. Then I was taken to a room with lots of soldiers and I was left there until around 8:00 a.m. At around 8:00 a.m. soldiers took me out and made me walk for about two hours inside the police station while I was tied and blindfolded. At around 10:00 a.m. I was taken for interrogation. 
The interrogator removed the blindfold but kept me tied. Then he advised me to talk and cooperate with him so we could finish early and go home. He told me he was going to call my father to pick me and my brother up if we cooperated nicely with him. 
The interrogator then he phoned a lawyer for me. The lawyer told me if I had done anything wrong I should talk about it but if I had done nothing wrong he advised me not to speak. The interrogator left the room during my conversation with the lawyer which lasted less than a minute. 
Then the interrogator wanted me to confess to throwing stones, “even one stone” would be enough he said and told me to say I was sorry. He said if I did that he was going to send me home immediately. I told him I did not throw any stones and did not go to areas where soldiers were present.
At the beginning the interrogator was calm but then he became aggressive. He pulled my ear and slapped me on the face. He questioned me for about one-and-a-half hours. He had a camera in the room. At my hearing the lawyer used the tape to show the military judge how I was beaten during the interrogation. The interrogator told me he was going to revoke my father’s work permit if I did not confess and that too was recorded and shown to the judge. 
At the end of the interrogation the interrogator phoned my father and told him to come to the police station to pick me up. My father later told me he waited at the police station from around 9:30 a.m. until around 3:30 p.m. and then he was told to go home without me. During this time the interrogator told me my father had sent me a message urging me to confess and to finish quickly in order to go home with him. 
The interrogator swore at me when I continued deny the accusation. When I swore back at him he grabbed me, pulled my hands behind my back and tied my hands to the chair I was sitting on. Then he pulled out a baton and beat me with it including on my head. Then he told me my brother had confessed and that I was wasting his time and urged me to confess like my brother. 
Then he took me to the room where my brother was held. I thought my brother had confessed to something very serious but it turned out he had only confessed to throwing one stone. Then he took me back to the interrogation room and told me my brother had confessed to throwing a Molotov cocktail and stones. At that point I confessed to throwing three stones at soldiers during one demonstration and another stone which missed during another demonstration. 
After I had confessed the interrogator showed me a document written in both Hebrew and Arabic and asked me to sign it. I read it and then I signed. Then he took me to another room where he took my fingerprints and a photographed me. Then the interrogator told me to go and wash my hands before he took me to the room where my brother was. We were left together for a short time and then the soldiers took my brother out and I was left in the room by myself for another day. 
During this time, I was not given any food or drink and I was taken from one room to another as well as being walked for a long time while I was tied and blindfolded. The soldiers were laughing and making fun of me and swearing at me calling me. At night I was taken to the settlement of Karmi Zur for a short time and then I was taken to Al Mascobiyeh for another interrogation.
The interrogator removed the blindfold and handed me a phone to speak to a lawyer. Then, without informing me of my right to silence, the interrogator repeated the accusations. I told him I had already confessed and that my statement was recorded and I had nothing to add. He questioned me for a short time and then gave me a blanket and took me to a room and told me I had a military court hearing the following day. 
The next morning, I had a military court hearing via video link. My parents did not attend because they were not informed. My detention was extended and the hearing was adjourned. 
I spent 37 days at Al Mascobiyeh, seven days of which I spent in a small cell underground by myself. The cell did not have any windows and I could not tell day from night. It had a bed made out of concrete. Time passed very slowly and I was in distress not knowing what was going to happen to me next. During those seven days I was interrogated daily. I did not speak to any lawyers and I was not informed of my right to silence. The interrogator wanted me to confess that my father possessed weapons. I did not confess and I was not given any documents to sign.
One day I was taken for interrogation and I was taken into room Number 4. The interrogator had a thick stick by the cupboard. When he was upset with me because I did not confess he picked the stick up, asked me how long I preferred it, then stuck it in my behind over my trousers and pushed me on the chair. I sat on the stick which caused bleeding and I was in severe pain. This lasted for weeks and I was too embarrassed to see a doctor when I was released.
I spent the seven days in the cell by myself and then I was taken to another cell with informants for another seven days. One of them tried to get some confessions out of me. He told me he had blown up a bus and was serving seven life sentences. He did this to make me feel comfortable talking to him but I did not say anything. 
Then they brought in another person who confessed he was an informant. He told me I had to confess otherwise he was going to kill me. When I told him I was not going to confess he started to beat me very hard. The other informant was watching but did not interfere. 
Then they took me to another room with three people. One of them asked me if I wanted to confess and when I said no two of them started to beat me and the third was watching. They made me lie down on the floor and they beat me all over my body. Then the person who was watching told me the other two were bad people and claimed he was a member of Fateh and wanted me to tell him everything. When I told him I had nothing to say he told one of the other two people to prepare the taser.
Then they took me to another room and one of them pulled out a taser, turned it on and hit me with it twice in my stomach. I was shaking and started to vomit and some blood came out. I was terrified and thought I was going to die. Then I was taken back into another cell and other detainees helped me get into bed and brought me some tea to drink.
I had nine military court hearings and at the last one, which was on 20 January 2021, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to one-and-a-half months in prison and fined NIS 1,500. I was also given a suspended sentence of three months suspended for one year. I accepted the plea bargain and I was supposed to be released after court but a social worker who had interviewed me in prison objected to the plea bargain and told the judge I deserved a harsher sentence. 
After spending 37 days at Al Mascobiyeh I was transferred to Ofer prison. At Ofer I was strip searched before being taken to section 13. The following day I was having a shower and someone told me to get ready because I was going to be released. I was released at Ofer on 24 January 2021 and I went home with a taxi driver. I was very happy to be home but I am still in pain. 
This testimony was produced with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Military Court Watch.