|7 January 2020
|Al 'Arrub camp, West Bank
On 7 January 2020, a 16-year-old minor from Al 'Arrub refugee camp was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 2:00 a.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 6 months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. He also received a suspended sentence.
I was getting ready to go to bed at around 2:00 a.m. when my brother came to my room and told me Israeli soldiers were in our house asking for me. There were around 15 soldiers in our home with more outside. I went to the living room where the soldiers were talking to my father and asking him about me.
The commander then approached me with a shirt he had picked out of our laundry basket and claimed I was spotted throwing stones at Route 60 wearing the shirt. The soldiers then searched the house. They broke doors and wardrobes and turned our furniture upside down. They also brought in three service dogs and allowed them to sniff around the house. The commander told me the dogs had detected traces of gunpowder on me. The soldiers also went up to the roof and slit our water tanks and destroyed them. They did not find anything.
Then, without giving my parents any documents, they took me outside where they tied my hands behind my back with two plastic ties which were very tight and painful. They also blindfolded me and pushed me into the back of a jeep and threw me on the metal floor banging my head against the back door. Inside the jeep soldiers slapped me on the face and kicked me in my stomach. They swore at me and called my parents "whores". They also beat me with the back of their guns. The jeep drove to the gate at the entrance to the camp and then drove to the police station in Etzion settlement where I was immediately taken for interrogation.
The interrogator removed the blindfold but kept me tied. He asked me how I was and told me I had to confess. Without informing me of my rights he accused me of weapon possession and throwing stones at Route 60. I denied the accusations. Then he showed me some photographs of clashes with soldiers and named some boys from the camp and told me I had to confess that they were taking part in the clashes with me. When I told him I did not know the boys he swore at me and slapped me on my face.
He repeated the accusations many times and each time I denied the accusation or refused to confess against the other boys he slapped me and swore at me. The interrogation lasted for about an hour and at the end I confessed to throwing one stone. I confessed because I could no longer take the slapping and I wanted the whole thing to end. After I confessed the interrogator showed me a document written in Hebrew and claimed it was my testimony and asked me to sign it but I refused to sign a document I did not understand.
Then I was taken to another room where they took my photograph and fingerprints. Then I was taken to a cell at Etzion where I was strip searched and left in the cell overnight. In the morning I was taken to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem, where I was strip searched again before being taken to section 13.
The following day I was taken to Ofer military court. My parents did not attend because they were not informed about the hearing. My lawyer was there and the hearing was adjourned. I had nine military court hearings; some of which were conducted by video link due to the Corina virus regulations. At the last hearing I was sentenced in a plea bargain to six months in prison, fined NIS 2,000 and given a suspended sentence valid for three years. I accepted the plea bargain because the prosecutor wanted a longer prison sentence and the plea bargain brought it down to six months.
I spent three months in Ofer prison and then I was transferred to Damoun prison, inside Israel. In prison I exercised to keep fit and to pass the time. I was released at Al Jalama checkpoint on 7 July 2020, and I went home with my father and brother. I arrived home in the afternoon.
This testimony was produced with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Military Court Watch.