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Testimony: M.M.J.H.


Name: M.M.J.H.
Age: 16
Date: 29 October 2021
Location: Dheisheh camp, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones

On 29 October 2021, a 16-year-old from Dheisheh camp was arrested by Israeli soldiers by Route 60 at 4:00 p.m. He reports ill treatment. He reports being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He reports spending 10 days in solitary confinement. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. He also received a suspended sentence.

I was walking with some friends along Route 60 when a group of Israeli soldiers ambushed us. It was around 4:00 p.m. They were hiding inside a house and when we walked by they rushed out. Two of the soldiers grabbed me and beat me up. Then they led me away while still beating me. We walked for about an hour. My eye swelled and I bled from my nose and cheek. I was in pain and could no longer walk. The soldiers also swore at me. 
At one point the soldiers called an ambulance because I was bleeding heavily. The paramedics arrived and treated me on site. Then a soldier blindfolded me and tied my hands behind my back with three plastic ties: one on each wrist and another connecting the two. The ties were very tight and caused me a lot of pain and left marks on my wrists for a long time. Then they took me to the back of a military jeep and made me sit on the metal floor. Inside the jeep a soldier aimed his gun at me while the other soldiers continued to beat me and swear at me. 
They took me to a nearby Israeli police station where I waited for a short while before I was taken to a room where they removed the ties and the blindfold. Then they phoned a lawyer for me and I spoke to him. The lawyer spoke for a short time and told me to take care of myself. Then I was taken into the interrogation room.
The interrogator wore an Israeli police uniform and spoke to me through an interpreter. The interrogator saw my injured face but did not ask about it. He did not inform me of my right to silence and started to ask me about my friends. He wanted to know their names. Then he showed me video footage of clashes with soldiers and accused me of intending to throw stones at soldiers. I denied the accusation. At first, he was calm but when I denied the accusation he changed his behaviour. He thumped the table and shouted at me telling me I was a liar.  Then he wanted to know the names of my friends. He repeated the same questions and accusations many times.
At one point I asked to use the toilet and he allowed me but while accompanied by a soldier who did not leave me alone for a second. 
At the end of the interrogation, the interrogator asked me to sign a document written in Hebrew and I refused to sign and asked for a translation but he refused. Then he told a soldier to take me out and told him to beat me up. The soldiers beat me while I waited outside. 
After the interrogation I was taken to the police station in Etzion settlement. I was searched in my clothes and then I was taken to a cell with other boys. I was left there for five days. During this time, I had my first military court hearing via zoom. My parents were there and my detention was extended.
After five days I was taken to a separate cell where I spent 10 days in solitary confinement. The cell was the size of a small bathroom and had one small window which let some light in. They left a light on at night and I could not sleep well. I was bored and tired and short-tempered because of the small space. The food was not good, it was mostly bread and sweetened yogurt, the kind given to infants. Sometimes I could speak to other detainees held in solitary confinement in other cells on the same floor when the guards were not around. They told me they might take me to the informants’ cell and warned me not to say anything. I was worried about this possibility the whole time and the thought of being in the same cell with informants stressed me. Thankfully, I was not taken there.
After 10 days in solitary confinement I spent three more days in a cell with other detainees. 
After three days I was taken to Ofer, near Jerusalem, and interrogated again. A person started to threaten me and I did not realise at first that he was the interrogator. He told me he was going to drive me nuts. Then I was taken to another room and the same person walked in. He did not allow me to speak to a lawyer and did not inform me of my right to silence. He sat me down on a chair and we were separated by a glass barrier.
He wanted to know the names of my friends. Then he accused me of being a member of Hamas. I denied the accusation. He kept me there until around 9:00 p.m. and then asked me to sign some documents written in Hebrew. I signed some but not all. Then I was searched in my clothes before being taken to the quarantine section where I spent 10 days with other boys. Then I was taken to another section where I was with adults.
I had about 12 military court hearings. At the last one, which was about two months before my release, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to six months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I was also given a suspended sentence. My lawyer told me to accept the bargain and I did.
In prison I exercised and lifted weights and I attended classes in Arabic, Hebrew and Mathematics. I had one family visit and I called home from a telephone provided by the prison authorities once every 14 days. 
I was released at Ofer on 8 March 2022. My parents were not there and I called a friend who is a taxi driver who took me home. I arrived home at around midnight. My mother did not celebrate my home coming because my grandmother had died just a few weeks earlier. I was very sad that I did not have a chance to see her before she died. I also found out that my father’s work permit had been cancelled. We have no income and my father did not have a job for months. This caused a lot of tension between my parents and they now want to divorce. My father blames my mother for everything.
About a week after I was released an intelligence officer phoned my father and told him to bring me for a chat. My father and I went to Ofer and waited for a long time but no one let us in, so we went home. The same thing happened four times; the intelligence officer kept calling my father asking him to bring me for a chat and when we went we were not let in. 
I hardly leave home these days because of the suspended sentence. I am scared that they might arrest me again and I am worried about the phone calls from the intelligence officer. I want to study for my final high school exams and I don’t want to be thinking about anything else.