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Testimony: M.J.A.

Name:  M.J.A.
Age: 16 
Date of incident: 16 November 2013
Location: Bethlehem, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones
On 16 November 2013, a 16-year-old minor from Bethlehem was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 3:00 a.m. and accused of throwing Molotov cocktails and stones. He reports ill-treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli miltiary law. He reports spending about 40 days in prison, receiving a fine of NIS 1,500 as well as a suspended sentence. 
I was asleep at home when my father woke me up at 3:00 a.m. and told me Israeli soldiers were surrounding our house. I went to the living room and heard very loud banging at our front door. Soldiers threatened my father that if he didn’t open the door they were going to break in. My father opened the door and about 10 masked and armed soldiers entered our home.
One soldier asked to see my identity card. I went to get it from my bedroom and a soldier followed me. When I showed my identity card to the soldier he told me to stand aside. At that point my father realised they had come to arrest me. He told them I was sick and suffered from Asthma. They didn’t tell us why they were arresting me or where they were taking me. They made my father sign a piece of paper, which I think, said that I was not mistreated. The soldiers allowed me to put on some warm clothes and my father gave them my medication.
The soldiers took me outside where they blindfolded me and tied my hands to the front with one plastic tie. The tie wasn’t painful. Then they put me in a troop carrier and made me sit on the metal floor. I wasn’t beaten. Then the soldiers went on to arrest other people in Bethlehem. They arrested four other people with me and that took about two hours or more. The whole time I was sitting on the metal floor of the troop carrier.
After about two hours I was taken out of the vehicle and my blindfold was removed. I was in a courtyard. I remained tied and was made to stand by a jeep. Then a man came over and introduced himself as Captain Samir. He said he was the head of the Shin Bet in the Bethlehem area. He asked me whether the soldiers beat me and I said no. Then he told me to confess so that the interrogation would be quick. He promised me a short prison sentence if I confessed. Then I was re-blindfolded and taken back to the troop carrier and was made to sit on the metal floor again.
The vehicle drove for about 15 minutes to a military camp, I think Etzion, where I was given a medical check. The doctor removed the blindfold but my hands remained tied. I was given a questionnaire written in Arabic and Hebrew with questions about different illnesses. I told the doctor I had Asthma and breathing problems and he wrote that down. After the medical check I was placed in a shipping container. I think it was around 6:30 a.m. At around 11:00 a.m. I was taken for interrogation.
Once inside the interrogation room, a soldier removed the plastic tie and replaced it with metal handcuffs. He also shackled my legs with metal chains. The shackles were painful and I complained to the interrogator but he didn’t do anything. I was alone with the interrogator who started by asking me if I wanted to confess. He said that if I didn’t confess he would resort to violence. I told the interrogator I would complain if he beat me. The interrogator accused me of throwing Molotov cocktails but I denied the accusation. He accused me of throwing a Molotov cocktail in the area near Rachel’s tomb and claimed that other people had confessed against me. I challenged him to name the people who confessed against me but he didn’t.
The interrogation lasted for about two hours. Soldiers then brought some food, beans and rice, and the interrogator removed the handcuffs and allowed me to eat. The interrogation resumed after I had eaten and the interrogator threatened to beat me but he didn’t. In the end I denied throwing Molotov cocktails but confessed to throwing stones near Rachel’s tomb. The interrogator wrote down my statement in Hebrew and asked me to sign it. He also took my fingerprints. He didn’t tell me I had the right to talk to a lawyer or about any other rights. The interrogation ended at around 7:00 p.m.
After the interrogation I was taken to a cell where I stayed until midnight. At midnight soldiers came and tied my hands to the front with one plastic tie, which wasn’t painful, blindfolded me and took me in a vehicle to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem.  This time I was allowed to sit on a seat. We arrived at Ofer at around 1:00 a.m. I remained in the vehicle until around 4:00 a.m., when I was taken inside and placed in Cell 13 with other boys my age.
Two days after my arrest I was taken to Ofer military court, where I saw my lawyer for the first time. My father was also in court. The case was adjourned for three days, and then for a month. During the month I remained in detention I got sick and was taken to an Israeli hospital. I stayed in hospital for about a week where I remained shackled and my left hand tied the whole time. A guard was also there the whole time.

One month after my arrest I was taken from the hospital to Ofer military court. This time my lawyer managed to convince the military judge that I had already spent enough time in jail and asked for my release. The judge agreed and my family had to pay a fine of NIS 1,500. I also received a six month suspended sentence for three years. I was released on 26 December 2013. My father was waiting for me near the prison and took me home.