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Testimony: A.M.H.A.


Name: A.M.H.A.
Age: 17
Date: 8 January 2020
Location: Beit Rema, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones / Molotov cocktails

On 8 January 2020, a 17-year-old minor from Beit Rema was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 3:30 a.m. and accused of throwing Molotov cocktails. He reports ill treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He reports being held in solitary confinement for 3 weeks. He was sentenced to 14 months in prison and fined NIS 3,000.

I was sleeping over at my aunt’s house the night I was arrested. My parents later told me there was very loud banging at our front door at around 3:30 a.m. They got up to open the front door but it was broken in before they could get there. About 15 masked soldiers they entered our home.  The commander told my father to name all his children and when he mentioned my name the commander asked him to identify me. My father told the commander I was not home. 
Then the soldiers searched the house, broke wardrobes and threw our clothes on the floor. They told my father they were looking for weapons but they did not find anything. Then they came to my aunt’s house nearby where I was staying. I heard the commotion and jumped out of bed to see what was going on and saw a soldier aiming his gun at me. They asked me for my name and then searched the wardrobes and threw the clothes on the floor. 
The soldiers then took photos of the room I was sleeping in and asked me to hand over the weapon. I told them I did not have any weapons in my possession. Then they told me I was under arrest. They did not give my family any documents. 
I was taken outside and led to my home. I was able to say goodbye to my mother. Outside my house a soldier tied my hands behind my back with two plastic ties on top of each other and tightened them very hard. The ties left marks on my wrists for many days. Then they blindfolded me and took me tothe back of a jeep and made me sit on the metal floor.
The jeep drove to a nearby checkpoint and a soldier made me take off my trousers and sat me down on the side of the road for about five minutes. A soldier swore at me and called me "a son of a whore". Then they took me to a clinic where a doctor gave me a quick medical examination. The doctor removed the blindfold during the examination. 
After the medical check I was taken to Al Jalama interrogation centre, inside Israel. I was put in a tiny cell which had a sink and toilet which were filthy. There were no windows and the light was left on for 24 hours. It had a ventilator and a fan that blew in cold air. I spent three weeks alone in the cell.
My first interrogation was on the first day at around 7:00 p.m. The interrogator removed the blindfold but kept my hands tied. He also tied my feet with plastic ties. As soon as I entered his room he asked me how I was and wanted to know what I had done. Then he accused me of throwing stones, Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs at soldiers in the military watchtower at the entrance to the neighbouring village of An Nabi Saleh. He told me he had confessions from another boy against me. 
When I denied the accusations he shouted at me and called me a liar. Then he brought in three large men, one stood behind me and the two others stood on each side and the interrogator stood very close to me and then spat at me. He told me he employed the three men to take care of me and if I did not confess he was going to kill me. Then he made a dirty gesture with his middle finger and that scared me. 
He questioned me for about five hours and was very aggressive. He yelled and shouted and tried to put enormous pressure on me to confess but I did not. He questioned me without informing me of my rights and without allowing me to speak to a lawyer. He did not ask me to sign any documents.
Then I was taken back to the cell and a soldier brought me some disgusting food which had a piece of chicken with feathers still on the skin. I could not eat it.  Then I went on hunger strike because the conditions I was under were unbearable. The interrogator wanted to punish for going on hunger strike. He took me to another room with a metal bed frame and he tied my hand up behind my head to a metal pipe on the wall and shackled my legs to the bed. I was left in that position for about three hours. I fell asleep from exhaustion. Then I was taken for another round of interrogation.
It was the same interrogator. He did not inform me of my rights and did not allow me to speak to a lawyer. He questioned me for about four hours and accused me of the same accusations. He wanted me to confess but I denied all the accusations. This was repeated over the next three days. 
On the third day the interrogator brought me some yogurt and jam and after I ate them he took me back to a cell which had cameras. I could not go to the toilet without being filmed and I found that to be humiliating. I was left there for nine days and I could not sleep because the soldiers woke me up to search the cell.
During these nine days I had five more rounds of interrogation. I was not informed of my rights and I did not speak to a lawyer. The interrogator repeated the same accusations and I denied them all. 
I had my first military court hearing eight days after my arrest. My parents were not informed and they did not attend and my detention was extended. It was during this hearing that I saw my lawyer for the first time. My lawyer told me not to confess.  
At the last interrogation the interrogator told me he did not want to untie me because he thought I was going to hurt him. Then he changed his mind and untied me. He accused me of shooting during a funeral of a young man who was killed by Israeli soldiers. I denied the accusation. He also accused me of throwing a Molotov cocktail during the same funeral and told me that incident happened on 17 December 2019. The interrogator did not inform me of my rights and did not allow me to speak to a lawyer. 
At first, I denied the accusations but then I confessed to throwing stones and a Molotov cocktail at the military watchtower in An Nabi Saleh. After I confessed I was driven to An Nabi Saleh to re-enact the incident. They made me wear a very heavy helmet and they shackled me for fear that I might run away. I could not keep my back straight from the weight of the helmet.
My last interrogation was by a policeman. He did not inform me of my rights and typed what I told him on a computer. Then he printed out the statement in Hebrew and asked me to sign it and I did.   
Then I was taken to a cell at Megiddo prison, inside Israel, and they put me there together with informants. They wanted me to confess against my brother. One of the informants brought me a copy of the Quran and urged me to “tell him everything” then he brought me a piece of paper and told me to write a letter to my family which he promised to deliver. I was very suspicious from day one and did not give any information. I spent three days in that cell and then I was taken to the juvenile section at Megiddo prison. I was strip searched and asked to crouch up and down while naked. 
I had 10 military court hearings and at the last one, which was on 16 November 2020, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to 14 months in prison and fined NIS 3,000. I was also given a suspended sentence of three years suspended for five years. I accepted the plea bargain because I was expecting a much tougher sentence. I was in tears when the judge said he wasn’t obliged to accept the plea bargain but in the end he did.
I spent three days at Megiddo and then I was transferred to Ofer where I spent the rest of my prison sentence. In prison I attended classes and I exercised. I had two family visits. I was released on 7 February 2021 and I went home with my brothers and cousins. We arrived home at around 5:30 p.m.