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Testimony: M.A.M.Z.


Name: M.A.M.Z.
Age: 17
Date: 23 December 2021
Location: Assileh Alharithiyeh, West Bank
Accusation: Shooting / weapon possession

On 23 December 2021, a 17-year-old minor from Assileh Alharithiyeh was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 3:00 a.m. and accused of weapon possession. He reports ill treatment. He repors not consulting with a lawyer prior to interrogation. He reports being held in solitary confinement for 31 days. He was sentenced to 4 months in prison and fined NIS 3,000.

I woke up to the sound of loud banging at our front door. It was around 3:00 a.m. I got up and heard Israeli soldiers outside trying to break open our front door with a hydraulic jack. They broke the door open and about 10 soldiers entered our home. 
The soldiers immediately took me aside and separated me from the rest of my family. Then they gave my father a document written in Hebrew and asked him to sign it. My father refused to sign. 
Then the soldiers searched our home for about two hours, turning things upside down. They knocked things off the shelves and broke glass and threw clothes on the floor. They spilled our olive oil on the kitchen floor. They told us they were looking for weapons but they did not find any.
Then they took me outside where a soldier tied my hands to the front with two plastic tied on top of each other. The ties were painful and when I asked them to loosen them they refused. Then they blindfolded me and took meto the back of a military jeep. A soldier swore at me and made me sit on the metal floor. When I asked to sit on a seat he slapped me.
I was taken to Salem interrogation centre where I was left in an open area for about five hours. A soldier removed the ties and then re-tied me and shackled my feet and connected the hand-ties to the shackles. This caused me to be bent backwards in an uncomfortable position. I did not sleep at all. I was not given anything to eat or drink and I was not allowed to use the toilet. 
At around 9:30 a.m. I was taken to Al Jalama interrogation centre, in Israel. At Al Jalama I was strip searched before being taken to an interrogation room. I was still tied and blindfolded. The interrogator, who had a camera in the room, removed the blindfold but did not untie me. Instead, he asked me to sit on a chair and tied me to the chair. He did not call a lawyer for me and told me I would see a lawyer in court. He said I had to remain silent in court. He also told me I was not allowed to speak except in response to a question. 
Then he accused me of taking part in a Jihad Islami demonstration and shooting at soldiers and weapon possession. I denied the accusations. Then he told me lots of boys and young men had confessed against me. He was aggressive and thumped the table and raised his voice at me. He threatened to demolish our house and make my family homeless. He said my mother would have a heart attack.
At one point three other interrogators joined him and they were all shouting at me telling me I was a lair. In all I was questioned for about seven hours. Sometimes the interrogators left me in the room by myself. At the end the interrogator asked me to sign a document written in Hebrew but I refused to sign. 
After the interrogation I was taken to an underground cell measuring about 1 x 1 meters. There were no windows and the walls were rough and painted black. There was a torn mattress on the floor and a long hole in the ground which was the toilet. There was also a small metal sink. I was left in this cell for 31 days in solitary confinement. I was interrogated on a daily basis, sometimes every other day. In total I think I was interrogated 20 times.
On two occasions they allowed me to call my parents to tell them I was ok. Only on the fourth day was I allowed to speak to a lawyer. The lawyer told me to answer the questions they ask me and told me he would see me in court. The interrogations focused on the same accusations. They wanted to know who was shooting a soldiers. They accused me of trading in weapons and wanted me to confess. After each interrogation I was asked to sign documents in Hebrew. Sometimes I signed and sometimes I did not. I was never informed of my right to silence and when I did remain silent the interrogator yelled at me.
The time I spent in solitary confinement was hard. I did not sleep well and I thought about my parents. I felt I had become autistic because of lack of interaction with other people. I recited the Quran. A dim light was left on 24 hours and I did not know day from night. I had no idea what day of the week it was. When I could not take it any longer I refused to eat and went on hunger strike demanding to be taken out of solitary confinement. For three days I did not eat anything and I lost about 12 kilos. The interrogators kept telling me to confess if I wanted to be taken out of solitary confinement. I did not confess.
After spending 31 days in solitary confinement I was taken to Megiddo prison, inside Israel, where I was searched in my clothes before being taken to the quarantine section. I spent a few days there and then I was put in the minors’ section.
My first military court hearing was a week after I had been arrested. It was on zoom and my parents did not attend because they were not informed. My detention was extended. I had 11 hearings. My last hearing was about a month before I was released. I was sentenced in plea bargain to four months in prison and fined NIS 3,000. I was also given another year in prison suspended for three years. My lawyer told me the deal was good and I accepted it.
I spent the rest of my prison sentence at Megiddo. I was happy to be with other detainees where I could at least see the sun and know what day of the week it was. I did not have any family visits and my parents were not able to deposit money for me with the canteen.  
I was released at Salem on 8 April 2022. My parents did not know I was going to be released on that day. I called them and they met me half way. I arrived home in the afternoon. I had a nice meal with family and friends and was happy to see everyone. I left school when I was in eighth grade. I now paint walls and work as a plasterer.