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Testimony: Nibal S.


Name:  Nibal S.
Age:  56
Date:  ****
Location:  ****
Event:  Night raid / hostage taking
On **** 2023, Israeli soldiers entered a family home in **** refugee camp at 6:30 a.m. looking for a 16-year-old boy. The boy was not home and the soldiers took another son as hostage until he turned himself in. 
It was the month of Ramadan and we were up early for the dawn prayers when, at around 6:30 a.m. I heard a commotion outside our house. I then heard the voice of my brother-in-law. I looked out the window and saw my brother-in-law with about 12 Israeli soldiers at our door and dozens more soldiers in the neighbourhood. My brother-in-law told me to open our front door and I did. 
After I opened the door I quickly grabbed some cash and gold and hid it in my pocked for fear it might get stolen. One of the soldiers saw me hide something and he struck me with the back of his gun in my chest and pushed me to the ground. I was in shock and in pain. Another soldier brought some water and poured it on me to make sure I do not pass out. 
Then the soldiers asked for my 16-year-old son. I told them he was not at home. They accused me of lying and wanted to know where he was. I told them he was at work. Then they pushed my 24-year old handicapped son and my eldest son, who is 34-years-old, into the kitchen and did not allow them to leave. 
The soldiers kept me in the living room and then searched our home causing damage to our furniture. They turned the washing machine upside-down and did the same to the refrigerator. Then they took everything out of our wardrobes and threw our clothes on the floor. They turned the house into a complete mess while I watched helplessly.
Then one of the soldiers told me he was going to take my eldest son until my 16-year-old boy turned himself in. They then took my eldest son away and did not tell us where they were taking him. 
A short while later my 16-year-old son found out what had happened from social media. He phoned me and quickly came home and then turned himself in to the soldiers at Qalandiya military checkpoint. As soon as he showed up at the checkpoint and told the soldiers who he was, they released my eldest son and sent him home.
I was pleased to see my eldest son back home but I was now worried about my youngest son. Although the soldiers told us they were going to question him for two hours and would send him home, he was still prison more than seven months later. 
When the war on Gaza erupted following the events of 7 October 2023, I heard rumours that the prison authorities were taking it out on the prisoners. I heard they were beating them, raiding their cells, depriving them of food, limiting the time they spend outside the cells and limiting the quantity of food. I was very worried about him. Many court hearings have been suspended as well as family visits and phone calls.
I really hope my son will be released soon in the prisoners’ deal in return for Hamas releasing the Israeli hostages. I hardly sleep these days, and worry not only about the well-being of my boy in prison, but about his future. He needs to go back to school rather than be in prison. I am a single mother, my husband died 11 years ago, when my son was only six years old. I am a cancer patient, and the last thing I need is to worry about my children. 
*Some information in this testimony has been concealed as some families report being threatened if they speak publicly about their experiences in prison following 7 October 2023.
* Nibal's son was released in late 2023 in a prisoner swap deal.