|11 September 2021
|Al 'Arrub camp, West Bank
On 11 September 2021, a 17-year-old minor from Al 'Arrub refugee camp was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 3:30 p.m. and accused of throwing stones. He reports ill treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He was sentenced to 4.5 months in prison and fined NIS 4,000. He also received a suspended sentence.
I was walking home with my friend while clashes were taking place with Israeli soldiers in our camp. It was around 3:30 p.m. My friend and I went inside my house and went up to the roof to drink tea and eat our sandwiches. Suddenly three Israeli soldiers broke into the building. Two soldiers grabbed me. My older brothers and mother came and tried to intervene but the soldiers sprayed pepper spray at them. They pushed me down the stairs and beat me with the back of their guns.
When the soldiers took me out of the house I started to shout, calling my father telling him I had been arrested. One soldier was upset and banged my head against the wall and then against my friend’s head. He also swore at me. Then he wanted to cross the street with me but we could not because of stone throwing by young men and boys from the camp. We went back into the building. Soldiers then fired tear gas and then I was taken across the street to the military watchtower.
At the watchtower soldier tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie which was tight and painful. I was left by the watchtower for about an hour. During this time a soldier hit me on the head. He also kicked me in my genitals and caused me severe pain. My parents came and tried to intervene but they did not succeed.
After about one hour I was put in the back of a military jeep where I sat on a seat. The jeep took me to the police station in Etzion settlement. At Etzion I was blindfolded and then I was taken to a room. I was not given any food or drink and I was not allowed to use the toilet. At around 3:00 p.m. the following day I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator pulled down the blindfold and kept me tied. He wore an Israeli police uniform. He did not allow me to speak to a lawyer and did not inform me of my right to silence. He told me “when I ask you a question, you answer me”. Then he accused me of throwing stones at soldiers and of giving directions to the other boys to flee the soldiers. He told me by doing so I had obstructed the work of the soldiers. I denied the accusations. He then showed me video footage of me and my friend standing on the roof of our house doing nothing. He asked me if the person in the video was me.
He was aggressive and spoke to me in a loud voice. He threatened to cancel the work permits of my family if I did not confess. He questioned me for about an hour and I continued to deny the accusation. At the end he asked me to sign a document written in Hebrew but I refused to sign.
Then I was taken back to the room and at around 6:00 p.m. I was strip searched before being taken to a cell. I shared the cell with four other boys.
My first military court hearing was on the second day after my arrest. It was conducted on Zoom and my parents did not attend because they were not informed. I spent nine days in the cell at Etzion and then I was transferred to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem. At Ofer I was strip searched again before being taken to the quarantine section. I turned 18 while I was there and I was then transferred to the adults’ section.
I had about 15 military court hearings. At the last one, which was one day before I was released, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to four-and-a-half months in prison and fined NIS 4,000. I was also given a suspended sentence of one year suspended for five years. I accepted the plea bargain because I knew I was going home the following day. Otherwise I was told I would be sentenced to nine months in prison.
I spent the rest of my sentence at Ofer prison where I helped in the kitchen and I exercised. I was released at Al Jib checkpoint on 13 January 2022, and I went home with the family of my friend who was released with me. I arrived home at around midnight. My parents did not visit me in prison because they are both sick with Diabetes. I managed to call home once from a telephone provided by the prison authorities.