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Testimony: A.F.A.S.


Name: A.F.A.S.
Age: 16
Date: 15 July 2020
Location: Balata camp, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones / Pipe bombs
On 15 July 2020, a 16-year-old minor from Balata refugee camp was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 4:00 p.m. during clashes and accused of throwing pipe bombs. He reports ill treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He reports being held in solitary confinement for 7 days. He was sentenced to 3 months in prison and fined NIS 1,000. 

I was crossing the Israeli military checkpoint at Awarta at around 4:00 p.m. At the time there were clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. Suddenly a group of soldiers grabbed me and tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie. The tie was very tight and painful and left marks on my wrists for days. They also shackled my legs and beat me all over my body. They kicked me and beat me with the back of their guns which caused a lot of pain.  

After I was tied the soldiers took me to the back of a jeep and made me sit on the metal floor between their legs. They swore at me calling me “a bastard”. The jeep drove a short distance and then stopped. I was taken out and a soldier made me stand against a wall as he took a photo of me with his mobile phone. Then he blindfolded me and I was left there for about an hour. Then they took me back to the jeep.
The jeep drove to Huwwara military base where I was strip searched.  I was then left outside for four days between interrogation. It was difficult to sleep. During this time I was given a medical examination and I was given some food and water and I was allowed to use the toilet. The food was disgusting; I was given rotten eggs and once I saw a dead cockroach in the rice. 
On the first night, at around 9:00 p.m. I was taken to the police station in Ariel settlement for interrogation. The interrogator removed the blindfold but kept me tied and shackled. He wanted to know why I was in his office and started to shout at me and accused me of throwing pipe bombs at soldiers. He wanted me to confess and to tell him who made the pipe bombs. I denied the accusation and told him I did not know anything about pipe bombs. 
He also accused me of throwing stones at soldiers and was very aggressive. He questioned me without informing me of my rights and without allowing me to speak to a lawyer. The interrogation lasted a long time; from around 9:00 p.m. until around 1:00 a.m. I was exhausted. Then he told me he had photographic evidence against me. Still, I did not confess. At the end of the interrogation he wanted me to sign documents written in Hebrew. When I refused to sign documents I did not understand he yelled at my urging me to sign and I signed because I was tired and scared. After the interrogation I was taken back to Huwwara.
I was interrogated four times over the course of the next four days. I was not informed of my rights in any of the interrogations and I did not speak to any lawyers. All the interrogations focused on the same accusations which I completely denied. On the fifth day I was taken to a cell. I was left in the cell by myself for a week in solitary confinement. The room was very small and had a sink which I used to wash and to pee in because there was no toilet. There were no windows in the cell and I could not tell whether it was day or night except from the call to prayer from a nearby mosque. 
Then I was taken to Megiddo prison inside Israel. At Megiddo I was strip searched before being taken to a special section where new detainees were quarantined. I spent 14 days in that section before I was transferred to the juvenile section. 
The day after I arrived at Megiddo I had a military court hearing via video. My detention was extended to allow for more interrogations and the hearing was adjourned.
The following day I was taken for another interrogation. I was accused of the same offences and I continued to deny them. At the end the interrogator told me I had the right to consult with a lawyer. Then he phoned a lawyer for me and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me to talk about things that concerned me only and then the line was cut off. The interrogator did not inform me of my right to silence.
In all the interrogations I was shown documents in Hebrew and I was asked to sign them. I signed all of them without understanding anything. I was too tired to object.
I had six military court hearings and at the last one I was sentenced in a plea bargain to three months in prison and fined NIS 1,000. I was also given a further 15 months in prison suspended for three years. I accepted the bargain because I was tired of being interrogated again and again and I wanted the whole thing to come to an end.
I was released on 11 October 2020, at Al Jalama checkpoint and I went home with my family. We arrived home in the evening.