|17 March 2021
|Kafr Ni'meh, West Bank
On 17 March 2021, a 16-year-old minor from Kafr Ni'meh was arrested at an Israeli police station after responding to a verbal summons and accused of throwing stones. He reports ill treatment. He reports being informed of his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He reports being held in solitary confinement for 29 days. He was sentenced to 10 months in prison and fined NIS 2,000.
I was not home when Israeli soldiers blew off our front door at 3:00 a.m. They asked my parents for me and then took my two younger brothers (aged 8 years and 12 years) to my aunt’s house nearby. Then they searched our house. Then they went to my uncle’s house asking for me and checked my name against my cousin’s name. Then they went back to our house and gave my parents a verbal summons ordering that I go to the police station for questioning.
Two days later an Israeli intelligence officer rang my father and told him if I did not turn myself in they were going to kill a family member and destroy our house. He also told him they would come and arrest me at night. My father was terrified and decided to accompany me to the police station.
We went to Ni'ilin police station on 17 March 2021. We arrived at the checkpoint at around 9:00 a.m. and then a military jeep took me and my father to the police station.
At the police station I was handcuffed to the front with metal handcuffs which were tight and painful. I was also shackled. Then my father and I were taken to the interrogation room. The interrogator asked my father if he wanted to appoint a lawyer. He told him he did. Then he phoned my aunt who is a lawyer but she did not answer. Then he phoned another lawyer. The lawyer told me not to be scared and that I had the right to remain silent. He also told me to take care of myself. The interrogator was listening to the conversation which lasted about three minutes.
Then the interrogator asked my father to leave and told him a military vehicle was going to take him back. He did not allow me to say goodbye to him. Then the interrogator told me I had the right to remain silent and said not to worry because he was not going to hurt me.
The interrogator accused me of throwing stones at a roundabout on a road used by settlers. When I denied the accusation, he yelled at me and told me I was a liar. Then he tightened the handcuffs and refused to give me some water and refused to allow me to use the toilet. Then he threatened to lock me up in a small cell in solitary confinement if I did not confess. Then he noticed a scar on my head where I had had a head surgery when I was young and he banged my head against a metal cabinet. I told him I had head surgery and threatened to report him. There was a camera in the room and later I found out everything was filmed and the tape was given to my lawyer.
He questioned me for about two-and-a-half hours and told me my friends had confessed against me. He wanted to know why I threw stones at innocent people and claimed I had threatened their lives. In the end he gave me a document written in three languages: Arabic, Hebrew and English and asked me to sign it. I refused to sign because he did not give me enough time to read it.
Then the interrogator apologised for hurting me and justified it by saying it was his job. He then told me he was paid NIS 27,000 a month to do this job. Then he asked me which prison I would prefer to go to.
After the interrogation he took me outside and started to joke with me. Then he named some of my friends and then warned me about one of them and said he was not a good person. Then he asked me if I wanted to be with my friends at Ofer. Then, instead of taking me to Ofer I was taken to Al Mascobiyeh police station, in West Jerusalem. At the police station I was strip searched before being taken to a small cell where I spent 29 days in solitary confinement.
The cell measured about 3 x 3 meters and did not have any windows. A light was left on 24 hours. I did not know day from night, but when I occasionally asked the guards for the time they told me. I could not sleep and I thought of my family the whole time, especially my younger brothers whom I missed. I was psychologically distressed. They sometimes brought in a detainee for a couple of hours until they found another place for them, but most of the time I was by myself.
My first military court hearing was on 18 March 2021. It was on zoom and my mother attended. I had about 12 military court hearings. My lawyer who saw the interrogation tape wanted to cross examine the interrogator who was seen banging my head against the metal cabinet. He was also seen threatening me. The interrogator never showed up in court.
At the last hearing, which was on 19 November 2021, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to 10 months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I was also given another 18 months in prison suspended for five years. My lawyer advised me to accept the plea bargain and told me the alternative was two years in prison. This sentence was based on a report by a social worker who told the court I needed to be home because of my head injury and in order to go back to school.
After spending 29 days in solitary confinement I was transferred to Ofer prison. I was strip searched and then I was taken into the minors’ section. In prison I was in charge of the ward and I kept it clean and tidy and distributed food to the other boys. This kept me busy and involved. I cleaned the courtyard and attended classes in Arabic, Hebrew and mathematics. I missed my final high school exams. I don’t want to repeat my class, instead I want to work at a garage painting cars.
I was released at Ofer on 6 December 2021, and I went home with my father, my brothers and my friends who were all waiting for me outside Ofer. I arrived home at around midnight.
In prison I had four family visits and I called home from a telephone provided by the prison authorities twice a month.