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Testimony: A.F.M.D.


Name: A.F.M.D.
Age: 16
Date: 7 August 2021
Location: Beit Fajjar, West Bank
Accusation: Setting a fire
On 7 August 2021, a 16-year-old from Beit Fajjar was arrested on a road near a settlement at 10:00 p.m. He reports ill treatment. He reports consulting with a lawyer prior to interrogation but not being informed of his right to silence by the interrogator. He reports being held in solitary confinement for 9 days. He was sentenced to 3 months in prison and fined NIS 1,000.
I was with a friend of mine walking along the road near the settlement at around 10:00 p.m. Suddenly a number of Israeli military jeeps approached and about 20 soldiers stepped out and surrounded us. Two soldiers beat me hard on my back and swore at me calling me "a son of a whore". Then another soldier tied my hands behind my back with three plastic ties: one on each wrist and another connecting the two. The ties were tight and painful and left marks on my wrists for days. Then they blindfolded me and took me to the back of one of the military jeeps and made me sit on the metal floor. 
The jeep drove to the police station in Etzion settlement where I was left in an open area until around 5:00 a.m. I was left alone and no one gave me any food or drink and the soldiers did not allow me to use a toilet. Then I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator removed the blindfold but kept me tied. He was in Israeli police uniform and had a camera in the room and a voice recorder on his desk. He phoned a lawyer for me and allowed me to speak to him before he started to question me. The interrogator turned the speaker phone on and listened to the short conversation with the lawyer which lasted less than a minute. The lawyer told me not to worry and that he was going to represent me in court. 
Then, without informing me of my right to silence, the interrogator accused me of starting a fire in the bushes near the settlement. I denied the accusation. When I denied the accusation, the interrogator got angry and accused me of lying to him. Then he told me the soldiers saw the fire and rushed to the area where they found me and my friend. I continued to deny the accusation. 
Then the interrogator threatened to lock me up in prison for a long time if I did not confess. He also told me my friend, whom they had arrested with me, had confessed against me. I did not believe him and continued to deny the accusation. He questioned me for about 30 minutes and then asked me to sign some documents written in Hebrew. He did not translate them for me and I signed without understanding what I had signed on; I felt I had no choice but to sign.
After the interrogation I was searched in my boxer shorts before being taken to a cell where I spent nine days by myself in solitary confinement. The cell measured about 2 x 2 meters and had one small window which let some day light in. At night there was no light in the cell and I found it very hard to be in that small space, especially at night when I could not see. I found it very hard to fall asleep. Time went by very slowly.
During this time, I had one military court hearing which was conducted via Zoom. My mother attended and the court extended my detention. 
Nine days later I was transferred to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem, where I was strip searched before being taken into the quarantine section where I spent 14 days. I was with another boy and the guards treated me with contempt, throwing my food on the floor and treating me like I was sick with COVID. One day they brought in a service dog into the cell and I was terrified. 
In all I had 11 military court hearings and at the last one, which was on the day of my release, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to three months in prison and fined NIS 1,000. I also received a suspended sentence of 8 months with a fine of NIS 3,000. I accepted the plea bargain because I wanted to go home. 
I was released from Ofer on 8 November 2021 and I went home with my parents. We arrived home at around 11:00 p.m. I spent my prison sentence at Ofer where I attended classes in Mathematics and Hebrew. I also played table tennis to pass the time and chatted to the other detainees. I did not have any family visits because the permit to visit was issued after my release.