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Testimony: J.H.J.K.


Name:  J.H.J.K.
Age:  17
Date:  16 October 2022
Location:  Tubas, West Bank
Accusation:  Throwing stones
On 16 October 2022, a 17-year-old minor from Tubas was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 3:30 a.m. and accused of throwing stones and other offences. He reports being held in solitary confinement for 35 days in Al Jalama. He reports being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He reports being sentenced to 2.5 months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. 
Israeli soldiers broke open our front door at around 3:30 a.m. and stormed into our home. About 15 soldiers spread out in the small space and three of them came into my bedroom and woke me up. One of the soldiers told me I was under arrest. He did not say why and did not give my family any documents. 
The soldiers did not search our house and within 15 minutes, in front of my family, my hands were tied behind my back with one plastic tie. The tie was tight and painful and left marks on my wrists for days. Then I was blindfolded before being taken outside where a troop carrier was waiting. I sat on a seat and the troop carrier drove to a nearby military base. 
At the military base I was left in a shipping container until around 5:00 a.m. and then I was taken to Al Jalama interrogation centre, near Haifa, in Israel, where I was strip searched. I was then taken to a small cell where I was left in solitary confinement. The cell measured about 1x1.5 meters and was not long enough for me to spread my legs out. Initially, I found it hard to sleep and I was in distress. The cell did not have any windows and the light was turned on 24 hours a day. I could not tell day from night.
On the third day after my arrest I was taken for interrogation. The interrogator did not remove the handcuffs. He was in civilian clothes and had a camera in the room. He did not allow me to speak to a lawyer and did not inform me of my right to silence. He accused me of throwing stones and of other more serious accusations. 
When I denied the accusations, the interrogator lost his temper. He shouted at me and threatened to keep me in solitary confinement for a long time if I did not confess. I denied the accusations. He told me my friends had confessed against me. Still, I continued to deny the accusation. He questioned me for about four hours until I was exhausted. He did not ask me to sign any documents and sent me back to solitary confinement.
On the fifth day I was interrogated again. I did not speak to a lawyer and was not informed of my right to silence. The interrogator questioned me for about three hours and lied to me. He told me he was done and I was not going to be interrogated any more. He then sent me to a room next door where I was questioned by a policeman. The policeman called a lawyer for me and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me not to worry and advised me to remain silent. The policeman was not in the room during the telephone conversation. 
After I spoke to the lawyer, the policeman told me I had the right to remain silent. Then he asked me to repeat what I had told the first interrogator and typed everything on a computer. Then he printed out a document in Arabic and asked me to sign it. I signed after I realised it was identical to what I had said. 
After I signed the statement I was sent to a cell with other detainees. At the time I thought I was done with interrogations and did not realise that the other detainees were informants. They were very friendly to me and I trusted them. By the end of the day I told them things I should not have. 
Later I was taken back to solitary confinement and was interrogated again multiple times, more than 20 times over a whole month. I did not have access to a lawyer and was not informed of my right to silence. I denied the accusations and denied having told the informants anything.
The interrogations got harder and harder and my spirits were crushed from being held in solitary confinement. Still, I was able to continue to deny the accusations. I spent 35 days in solitary confinement. Towards the end I felt I no longer wanted to live. I tried to suffocate myself with the blankets but it did not work out. 
The prison authorities found out I was trying to commit suicide and immediately moved me to another cell with CCTV cameras. This cell was worse than the other one. I was handcuffed on both sides of a metal bed in such a way that I could not stand up or move. They wanted to punish me for attempting to commit suicide. I was left there for a day and then I was moved to another small cell where I was monitored 24 hours a day. 
My first military court hearing was three days after my arrest. I was taken to Salem military court, near Jenin. My family were not informed and they did not attend. My detention was extended for more interrogation. I had about 15 court hearings.
At the last military court hearing, which was on 20 November 2022, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to two-and-a-half months in prison and fined NIS 2,000. I was also given another four months in prison suspended for five years. I accepted the plea bargain because I trusted my lawyer who was my cousin.
After spending 35 days in solitary confinement I was transferred to Megiddo prison, inside Israel. I was searched over my clothes before being taken to a cell with older prisoners because by then I had turned 18 years. 
I did not have any family visits because the permit was not issued in time. I was granted one telephone call, three days before I was released. The only time I saw my family was during court hearings. 
I was released at Salem checkpoint on 16 December 2022, and I went home with my father. I arrived home at around 10:00 a.m.