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Home » Children »

Testimony: N.M.N.

Name: N.M.N.
Age: 15 
Date of incident: 24 July 2014
Location: Nahhalin, West Bank
Accusation: Setting a fire
On 24 July 2014, a 15-year-old minor from Nahhalin was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 4:00 a.m. He reports ill treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He reports being released on 7 August 2014 after the payment of a fine of NIS 1,000. 
I was asleep when my sister woke me up. It was around 4:00 a.m. She told me to get up because Israeli soldiers were in our house. I was at home with my sister, who is 18, and my younger brothers aged 13, 11 and 6. My mother was in Jordan. My father died five years ago.
Four soldiers had entered our house and lots more were outside. The soldiers asked us to gather in the sitting room. The commander asked for my name and immediately told me to get dressed because I was under arrest. They showed my sister a document and asked her to sign it as proof that I was arrested without being physically assaulted. The document was in both Arabic and Hebrew. My sister signed it. The commander told her they were going to ask me some questions and would return me in a few hours. Of course they never did.
I was blindfolded and taken outside. They walked me to where a troop carrier was waiting. They put me inside the carrier and made me sit on a seat. Inside the carrier I was tied to the front with one plastic tie which was painful. When I complained to the soldier he just ignored me. The vehicle drove away to a nearby neighbourhood to arrest another person but they didn’t find the person they were looking for. The vehicle then took me to a nearby Israeli military base.
Once inside the military base I was taken to see a doctor who removed the blindfold and the tie. He gave me a questionnaire with a list of illnesses. He asked me to answer the questions. I deliberately ticked all 38 illnesses that were listed. The doctor just laughed. I was then re-blindfolded and tied and taken to a shipping container. The commander told me not to make a sound. There were no seats so I sat on the ground.
At around 8:00 a.m. I was taken in a jeep to the police station in the settlement of Etzion. The trip took about 10-15 minutes. Soldiers verbally abused me on the way and told me I was the "son of a whore". I was immediately taken for interrogation.
The interrogator introduced himself but I don’t remember his name. He removed the blindfold. He was wearing a police uniform and spoke good Arabic. He had a camera in the room and a tape recorder. The interrogator did not inform me of my right to silence and did not tell me I had the right to see a lawyer.
The interrogator accused me of starting a fire in the forest near the settlement and the Wall about two weeks ago. He told me my friends had testified against me and told me to confess. He asked me where I was at the time when the fire started. I told him I was at home with my mother. He told me if I confessed he would accompany me to court and make sure I was treated leniently. He put the tape recorder very close to my face and told me to confess but I refused. When I denied the accusation he got angry.
Towards the end he asked me if I wanted a lawyer. He also made me look out the window and I could see my mother who had come back from Jordan when she heard I was arrested. In the end I was asked to sign a document written in Hebrew after the interrogator showed me a translation on his computer screen. I signed the document because the Arabic translation matched what I had told him. A second interrogator came and took me to another room.
The second interrogator offered me a cigarette and made me a cup of coffee. He gave me a piece of paper and asked me to write down my name. He asked me to write numbers on the paper and to write down names of people who were involved in the fire. He told me he would send me home to celebrate the Eid holiday with my family if I confessed. He never informed me of my right to silence or the right to see a lawyer. He had a camera in the room.
The second interrogator threatened to arrest my sister and mother if I didn’t confess and “play with them”. I denied the accusation and refused to confess. I was again asked to sign a document I Hebrew after I was shown a translation on the computer screen. I signed the document.
I was then taken to a third interrogator. By then it was around noon. I asked the third interrogator for some food and he brought me some. He turned his computer screen towards me and showed me a map of our village. He showed me our house marked in red with my name written in English next to the mark. He asked me for names of people who live in the other houses in the village. He pointed to a house and asked me whose house it was. He told me he would send me home if I told him. He put some candy on the table in front of me and offered me some. The interrogation lasted for about one hour. I did not confess and I signed a document in Hebrew after being shown a translation on a computer screen.
At around 1:00 p.m I was taken in a vehicle to Ofer military court. I was shackled and handcuffed. I was immediately taken into the military court. A lawyer was in court. The hearing was adjourned and I was taken back to the settlement of Etzion where I spent the night. I was told I wasn’t taken to Ofer prison because of all the illnesses they thought I had when I ticked the medical questionnaire.
At Etzion a soldier told me to strip because he wanted to search me. When I refused to take off my underwear he slapped me hard on my face. I then took my underwear off. I was given the medical questionnaire again. This time I filled it out correctly. The following day I was taken to Ofer prison. I was strip searched again. I was told to crouch up and down while naked. I was then taken to Cell Number 13 where I was put with other children.
The following day I was taken to the settlement of Kiryat Arba for interrogation. This time it was the Shin Bet who interrogated me. The interrogator did not inform me of my rights and asked me the same questions as the previous interrogators. I continued to deny the accusation. At one point the interrogator got angry and pushed the table into the corner in a very threatening manner. The interrogation lasted about half-an-hour. I was then taken back to Ofer prison.
The following day I was taken to the military court again. My mother was there with a lawyer. The hearing was adjourned because the prosecutor asked for more time. Four or five other people were being tried for the involvement in the same incident and the prosecution convinced the court they needed more time. The following day I was taken back to the settlement of Etzion for another interrogation.
This time the interrogator brought my friends to testify against me but they didn’t. I denied that I knew them. I was taken back to Kiryat Arba settlement and then to Ofer prison.
The following day I was taken back to the military court. My mother was there and the lawyer. I didn’t understand much of what was going on in court but it was clear that there was an argument between the judge and the prosecutor. My mother told me later that the judge wasn’t happy with the files that the prosecutor presented because they included contradictory material. The judge refused to admit the documents and he wasn’t happy with the evidence.
It was decided that my family would pay NIS 1,000 and I would be released on bail. I was told the military court might call me back anytime but my lawyer told me it is very unlikely that they will. I was released on 7 August 2014, at around 9:30 p.m.