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Home » Children »

Testimony: H.T.I.A.


Name:  H.T.I.A.
Age:  15
Date:  10 April 2023
Location:  Beit Ur Tahta, West Bank
Accusation:  Throwing stones / Molotov cocktails

On 10 April 2023, a 15-year-old minor was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 5:30 a.m. He reports being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He was sentenced in a plea bargain to nine months in prison and a fine of NIS 2,000. He reports a deterioration in prison conditions after 7 October. He was released in a prisoner swap deal on 24 November 2023. 

Israeli soldiers pushed open our unlocked front door at around 5:30 a.m. and came into my bedroom. I was still in bed. One of the soldiers asked me for my name and then told me I was under arrest. They did not say why and did not give me or my parents any documents. 
Within about 10 minutes I was taken outside where a soldier tied my hands to the front with two plastic ties on top of each other. The ties were tight and very painful and left marks on my wrists. Then he blindfolded me and pushed me into the back of a military jeep and made me sit in the corner on the metal floor. 
I was taken to a nearby military base where a person asked me some questions about my health. Then I was taken to the police station in the settlement of Modi’in Illit. I was left in an outdoor area in the sun for about three hours. They did not give me any food or water and did not allow me to use the toilet. Then I was taken into the interrogation room. I was still tied and blindfolded.
The interrogator removed the blindfold. He was wore a T-shirt and trousers. The interrogator placed his mobile phone on his desk in front of me for recording. He did not call a lawyer for me but he informed me of my right to remain silent. He then warned me that remaining silent would harm me in court and that it was better for me to speak. 
Then he questioned me about throwing stones and Molotov cocktail sometime in 2023 and told me he had video footage of the incident. I denied being involved in the incident. He then showed me the footage and I continued to deny the accusation. Then he told me if I did not confess the soldiers were going to wait for the right moment and then shoot me. He questioned me for about 30 minutes and he wanted me to confess. At the end he asked me to sign on an electronic device. I signed without knowing what I had signed on because I could not see anything on the screen. 
After the interrogation I was taken to a military court. My parents did not attend because they were not informed. My detention was extended. Then I was taken to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem. I was strip searched and then I was taken to section 13. 
Ten days later I was taken for another interrogation. I did not speak to a lawyer and I was not informed of my right to silence this time. The interrogator told me he was going to record the session.
The interrogator repeated the same accusations. He questioned me for about an hour and showed me the video footage again. At the end I confessed because I felt I had no choice. Then he told me to sign a document in Hebrew. I signed without understanding it. After the interrogation I was taken back to prison. 
I had about 10 military court hearings. The last one was on 25 July 2023. I was sentenced in a plea bargain to nine months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I also received another 15 months in prison suspended for five years. I accepted the deal because the alternative was to spend 11 months in prison. 
I spent the entire time at Ofer. Prison conditions became harsh after the events of 7 October. They took away the hot plate we used to cook our food on. The glass window panels were removed and they did not re-install them when the weather became cold. They stopped family visits, but thankfully I had two family visits before the war started. 
We had no idea what was going on in Gaza because they took away the radio and TV; we were cut off from the outside world. The only time we heard some details was when new detainees were brought in. Before the war I was allowed to call my family twice a month from a telephone provided by the prison authorities. After 7 October was they did not allow us to make any phone calls.
On the day when I was released I was taken out of the cell in the morning. I was not told why. I waited with 10 other children for about seven hours. Then members of the Red Cross met with us and told us we were going to be released in a prisoners’ exchange deal with Hamas. I was very happy. 
I was released on 24 November 2023, my father, my brother and my cousin were waiting for me outside Ofer. We arrived home at around 11:00 p.m. My mother told me how worried she was about me after the war. She had heard rumors that we were beaten up by prison guards and that we had harsh punishments.
Before the war I appeared in front of a military judge to try to get early release but the judge denied me. My father paid the NIS 2,000 shekels fine, not knowing I was going to be released in a prisoners’ deal. I have now gone back to school. I am in 11th grade. I want to work hard to try to get good grades.