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Testimony: D.A.W.A.


Name: D.A.W.A.
Age: 16
Date: 9 May 2022
Location: Jenin, West Bank
Accusation: Weapon possession

On 9 May 2022, a 16-year-old minor from Jenin was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 3:30 a.m. He reports ill treatment and being held in solitary confinement for 23 days in Al Jalama interrogation center. He was sentenced to 3 months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. He also received a suspended sentence.  

My mother woke me up at around 3:30 a.m. I was sleepy and told her to leave me alone because I did not want to go to school. She shook me and told me to get up because Israeli soldiers were outside our house. I got up and turned the light on and went back to bed. Then I woke up again when I heard the voices of people talking in the living room. The soldiers were about to break down our front door but my father got there just in time. About 20 masked soldiers entered our home. My nine-year-old sister was terrified and started to cry. 
Four soldiers came into my bedroom and one of them asked me for my name. Then he told me to get up and took me to the porch where he blindfolded me and tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie which was tight and painful. It left marks on my wrists for a week. 
Then the soldiers took me downstairs and made me sit on the couch. I was handed a telephone and told me to speak to the commander who was in a jeep outside. Then the commander came in and pulled my brother and father aside and started to ask them questions.  The soldiers remained inside our house for about an hour. Most of the time they were waiting for the commander while he talked to my brother and father. 
After about an hour a soldier told me to put my shoes on and say goodbye to my family. They did not give us any documents or reasons for my arrest. On the way out a soldier asked me for my telephone. When I told him I did not have one he slapped me and verbally abuse me. Then I told him my phone was under my pillow and he sent another soldier to get it.
Once outside I was put in the back of a military jeep where I sat on the metal floor. The soldiers inside the jeep swore at me and one of them put his boots on my back. The jeep drove to a military base where I was taken to a shipping container. I was left there until around 11:00 a.m. During this time the commander came and asked me whether I knew why I was there. When I told him I did not know he told me I would soon find out. I was not given any food or water and I was not allowed to use the toilet. 
At around 11:00 a.m. I was taken to Salem interrogation center where I was left outdoors in the sun for about two hours. Then I was strip searched. I was left naked for about ten minutes and the person who searched me asked me to crouch up and down and I felt humiliated. Then I was taken in a troop carrier which drove me to Al Jalama interrogation center, in Israel.
At Al Jalama I was taken to a small cell where I was left for a total of 23 days in solitary confinement. The cell measured about 2 x 2 meters and did not have any windows. A bright light was left on all the time and I found it hard to sleep. I could not tell whether it was day or night and time went by very slowly. I constantly thought about my family and wondered whether they knew where I was. I sometimes prayed and found praying comforting. An open sewer was in the cell as a toilet and the smell was horrible. There were cockroaches in the room. I banged at the door to get the attention of the guards to let me out but no one responded. 
My first interrogation was on the day when I arrived. I was taken for interrogation in the afternoon. A guard removed the hand cuffs and the blindfold and took me into the interrogation room. The interrogator was in civilian clothes. He told me the interrogation was not recorded because he wanted me to feel comfortable and to tell him everything. He did not call a lawyer for me and did not inform me of my right to silence.
He asked me for my name and I told him I did not know. Then he asked me if I knew why I was being interrogated. I told him I did not know. Then he told me he had no time for people like me and that he’d rather go home to be with his wife and children. He said he had no problem leaving me in solitary confinement until I was ready to cooperate. 
Then he started to hint to me what he was going to question me about. He mentioned a coffee shop in the village and a gun. Then he named a boy and told me the boy had sent him a message on messenger that I was in that coffee shop with young men who were involved in an attack in Tel Aviv. He wanted me to confess against other people and to tell him whether I knew others had an intension of harming Israelis. I told him I had no idea. Sometimes he was calm and other times he was aggressive. Then he accused me of giving the suspects some guns. He questioned me for about three hours and did not ask me to sign any documents. 
I was interrogated on a daily basis for the first five days in solitary confinement. Then they brought in another detainee who spent two days with me. Then I was taken into another cell with collaborators. I could tell there was something wrong with them and I did not engage with them at all. Then I was taken into another cell where I spent nine days with another boy. I did not get along with him at all. He was rude and noisy and ate my food. Then I was taken back to solitary.
Eighteen days later I was transferred to Megiddo prison, also in Israel. I was strip searched before being taken to the minors’ section. Then the prison guard came and told me I was going to be released, I was happy and prepared myself to go home. The following day, instead of releasing me, I was taken in a troop carrier back to the solitary confinement cell. I was devastated. For the following eighteen days I was taken back and forth to Megiddo for interrogation. After each interrogation I was taken back into solitary confinement.
In all I had about 20 interrogations, including a final one which was conducted by an Israeli policeman. I did not speak to a lawyer except before the last interrogation. I was never informed of my right to silence except by the policeman. The policeman warned me if I decided to remain silent it meant I had something to hide. He threatened that if I remained silent he was going to send me back to be interrogated by an intelligence officer. The interrogations were harsh and the trip back and forth exhausted me. 
One interrogator threatened to let me rot in solitary confinement if he found out I was lying to him. He threatened to revoke my father’s and brother’s permits if I did not cooperate with him. When I was released I found the permits were revoked.
I was never asked to sign any documents except after the police interrogation. He asked me to sign a document in Hebrew. When I refused to sign he told me I won’t be released unless I signed, so I signed. 
During my time at Al Jalama I was stressed and decided I had to get out of solitary confinement by any means. I told the guards I was going to kill myself if they did not take me out. Then they took me into another cell which was monitored by CCTV cameras 24 hours. In that cell I went on hunger strike for nine days. I lost a lot of weight. Then I tried to kill myself by drinking the shampoo they had given me. I drank the whole sack. Then I tried to cut my leg with the metal cup they had in the cell to flush the open sewer with. After many attempts I managed to cut my leg just under the knee. The guards came into the cell to stop me hurting myself.
The following day I was told I had another interrogation. I was questioned and then I was taken in a troop carrier which drove around until midnight. I had not eaten and was exhausted. Then they dropped me off at Megiddo prison where the other prisoners gave me something to eat. 
During this whole time I had many military court hearings, can’t remember how many. My last one was about three weeks before I was released. I was sentenced in a plea bargain to three months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I also received another one year in prison suspended for five years. I had to plead guilty to having pictures of weapons on my cell phone. I accepted the plea bargain because I wanted to go home. 
I did not have any family visits because I spent a lot of time in solitary confinement at Al Jalama and because the permit normally takes more than two months to be issued. In prison I spent a lot of time by myself; I did not want to mix with the other prisoners. I did not attend any classes because the level was for beginners and for boys who were illiterate. 
I was released at Salem checkpoint on 25 July 2022. I went home with a convoy of relatives and friends who had come to meet me. I arrived home at around 5:00 p.m. I occasionally dream I am arrested again. Whenever I hear soldiers are in the village I run home, I don’t want to ever see them again. Solitary confinement was unbearable; It will always remain on my mind, I haven’t forgotten the ordeal.