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Testimony: U.Y.A.M.


Name: U.Y.A.M.
Age: 17
Date: 13 April 2022
Location: Beit Ummar, West Bank
Accusation: Shooting

On 13 April 2022, a 17-year-old minor from Beit Ummar was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 5:00 a.m. and accused of involvement in a shooting. He reports being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He reports being held in solitary confinement for 36 days. He was released 5 weeks later and fined NIS 1,000.

I heard commotion outside our house at around 5:00 a.m. I woke my father up and told him. My father looked out the window but did not see anything. Shortly afterwards we heard loud banging at our front door and the sound of someone trying to break in. I was scared and went back to my bedroom. When they could not break in the front door they went to the back door and broke it open. 
About 20 Israeli soldiers entered our home and one of them immediately grabbed my father and took him outside. My mother asked the soldiers why they were in our house and they told her they wanted to arrest me. We were not given any documents.
My mother came to my bedroom followed by some soldiers. She told me the soldiers wanted to arrest me. The soldiers immediately dragged me outside the house where they tied my hands behind my back with two plastic ties on top of each other. The ties were tight and painful.  Then the soldiers searched our home and turned everything upside down. Then they asked me to hand over my telephone and I did. Later the commander asked me if I had any medical conditions and I told him I had been shot in the leg. Then he told me to go inside and say goodbye to my family and I did.
The commander told me not to be scared because no one was going to hurt me. Then he blindfolded me and took me to the back of a military jeep and made me sit on the metal floor. Nothing happened inside the jeep. Then I was taken to the police station in Etzion settlement. 
We arrived at Etzion at around 9:00 a.m. I was left on a chair in an open area for about an hour and then I was driven to a small cell at Ofer interrogation centre, near Jerusalem, where I was strip searched. I was held in solitary confinement at Ofer for 36 days.
The cell was the size of a small bathroom and did not have any windows. A light was left on 24 hours and the air conditioner was very cold. I did not know day from night and this made me depressed. I was worried because I did not know when I was going to be taken out of solitary confinement and I had no idea what plan they had for me. A toilet and a sink were in the room which made the space even smaller. There was also a bed with a blue mattress. I was in bad psychological state. My first interrogation was on the day I arrived at Ofer.
The guards removed the ties and the blindfold before taking me into the interrogation room. The interrogator allowed me to speak to a lawyer on the phone. The lawyer told me I was suspected of shooting at soldiers and told me not to be afraid. He also advised me to remain silent. The conversation lasted for about three minutes while the interrogator was listening. 
During the interrogation the interrogator was typing on his computer. He informed me of my right to silence and gave me a document in Arabic with all my rights and obligations. Among other things, the document said I had the right for a family member to attend the interrogation. When I asked the interrogator about this right he told me this was the case a long time ago and that the rules had changed.
Then he asked me how I was and whether I knew why I was in his office. He warned me that if I lied to him he was going to lock me up for the longest possible time in administrative detention. Then he told me I could be facing four years in prison because I was suspected of shooting at soldiers during clashes. 
The interrogator also told me that he was an intelligence officer and that they knew everything about me. He repeated the accusation and I denied it. This went on for about five hours and each time I denied the accusation I was sent back to the solitary confinement cell. I continued to deny the accusation and I was not asked to sign any documents.
I was interrogated multiple times during the 36 days, on average once a day except on Fridays and Saturdays. The same accusations were repeated again and again. Only before the first interrogation was I allowed to speak to a lawyer and informed of my right to silence. The interrogator threatened to lock me up in prison for a long time if I did not confess and told me I was never going to see my parents again. He also tied my hands behind my back when I denied the accusation. Although I was under tremendous pressure and I suffered from depression because of the solitary confinement, I continued to deny the accusation and insisted I was innocent. 
My first military court hearing was two days after my arrest. I was taken to Ofer military court but my parents were not there because they were not informed. I had about 10 hearings and at the last one, which was on the day before my release, I was released without charge because there was no charge sheet against me. The military judge fined my parents NIS 1,000 and told me I was going to be monitored for 152 days and that I had a suspended sentence of three years valid for five years. I accepted these conditions because I wanted to go home. 
After spending 36 days in solitary confinement I was taken to another cell with two other boys. I was released on 20 May 2022, at Al Jib checkpoint and I went home with my family and friends. I arrived home at around 2:00 a.m. and we all celebrated with a nice meal which my mother had prepared.