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Testimony: M.T.M.O.


Name: M.T.M.O.
Age: 16
Date: 28 January 2020
Location: Tuqu', West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones
On 28 January 2020, a 16-year-old minor from Tuqu’ was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 3:30 a.m. and accused of throwing stones. He reports being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He was sentenced to 9 months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. He also received a suspended sentence. 
I was asleep when my brother woke me up and told me that Israeli soldiers were in our building in the stairwell. It was around 3:30 a.m. Then we heard loud banging at our front door. We went to the living room and my brother opened the door. Two soldiers wearing facemasks entered the house and immediately approached me. They told my parents I was under arrest. My father asked why and one of the soldiers said “he knows exactly why”. 
The soldiers then grabbed me and started to drag me outside but my father told the soldiers to allow me to put some clothes on and they did. Then one of the soldiers asked me how old I was and told me to say good bye to my parents. Then he gave my father a document filled out in Hebrew with details about my arrest.
Once inside the stairwell a soldier tied my hands to the front with three plastic ties on top of each other. He tightened them hard and I complained but he told me to shut up. He also blindfolded me. I was then led outside to a waiting troop carrier. I was taken into the back of the troop carrier where I sat on the metal floor. I was then taken to the police station in Etzion settlement. 
On arrival at Etzion I was examined by a doctor who removed the blindfold during the examination. Then I was taken to a room where I was left until around 10:00 a.m. before being taken for interrogation.
The interrogator removed the blindfold but kept me tied. He did not inform me of my rights and I did not speak to a lawyer. He started by asking me how I was and told me he was going to ask me some questions which he expected me to answer. Then he asked me about some boys from the village and I told him I did not know them. Then he accused me of throwing stones at soldiers and told me the boys he named had confessed against me. I denied the accusation. Then he showed me photos of clashes with soldiers and accused me of taking part. I denied the accusation.  
The first interrogator was in an Israeli police uniform but then another interrogator in civilian clothes entered the room. The second interrogator was aggressive and threatened that if I did not confess he was going to lock me up in a cell by myself for a long time. I was questioned by the two interrogators for about one-and-a-half hours. At the end of the interrogation I was shown documents in Hebrew and asked to sign them but I refused to sign something I did not understand. I asked for an Arabic translation but they never showed me a translated version. 
After the interrogation I was taken to a cell in Etzion. I was strip searched and left there for nine days. The first four days I was by myself but then they brought in two other detainees. During this time I had a military court hearing at Ofer which my father attended. A lawyer was there and the hearing was adjourned after the military judge extended my detention.  Then I was taken to Ofer prison where I was again strip searched before being taken to section 13. 
I had about eight military court hearings and at the last one I was sentenced in a plea bargain to nine months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I was also given a suspended sentence of one year valid for five years. My lawyer told me it was a good deal so I accepted it.
I spent 15 days in Ofer prison before being transferred to Megiddo prison, inside Israel. I spent eight days at Megiddo and then I was transferred again to Damoun prison, also in Israel. After the Corona virus took over, the prison authorities installed phones in April 2020, and I was able to speak to my family on average three times a week. My parents visited me once in August.
In prison I attended Arabic classes and I helped keep our prison cell clean. I was released on 13 October 2020 at Al Jalama checkpoint and I went home with my brother. We arrived home at around 11:00 p.m. 
This testimony was produced with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Military Court Watch.