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Home » Children »

Testimony: S.M.D.J.


Name: S.M.D.J.
Age: 15
Date: 19 October 2020
Location: Al 'Arrub camp, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing Molotov cocktails

On 19 October 2020, a 15-year-old minor from Al 'Arrub refugee camp was arrested by Israeli soldiers from home at 4:15 a.m. and accused of throwing Molotov cocktails. He reports ill treatment and being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He reports being put in solitary confinement for 7 days. He was released on NIS 8,000 bail, 3 months after his arrest.

I was fast asleep, still under the influence of the anesthetic following the surgery I had the day before, when I was woken up by an Israeli soldier. It was around 4:15 a.m. It was a shock to wake up and see soldiers in my bedroom. They had managed to open our front door using some sort of device. My mother heard a noise and thought it was the neighbours and so went to the door. She was standing behind the door when it was suddenly pushed open. She thought was having a bad dream. 
About 12 soldiers entered our home with many more waiting outside. They had service dogs with them but they did not bring the dogs into the house. The commander called my mother by name and when she confirmed her identity he told his soldiers to calm down. Then he called my sister by name and then asked about me. My mother told him I had surgery the day before and was in bed recovering. The soldiers did not pay attention to what my mother was saying and went into my bedroom and pulled me out of bed. 
The soldiers took me to the living room and one of them banged my head against the wall then sat me down on the couch. I showed the soldiers the bandage on my belly where I had the surgery and the commander told my mother not to worry because he was going to take me to a doctor. He asked her to bring my medications and then gave her a document filled out in Hebrew with details about my arrest. He made her sign the document and then he took it away. He did not leave a copy for my mother.
The soldiers remained in our home for about 30 minutes. Then they took me outside where a soldier checked the bandage, then tied my hands behind my back with three plastic ties: one on each wrist and another connecting the two. The ties were very tight and painful. I was also blindfolded. The soldiers then led me on foot to the military watchtower at the entrance to our refugee camp. 
When we arrived at the watchtower I was taken to the back of a military jeep where I sat on a seat. The jeep drove to the police station in Etzion settlement. I was taken to a shipping container and the area intelligence officer questioned me while I was tied and blindfolded. He asked me whether I had recognized his voice and when I said I did not he pulled down the blindfold. I then recognized him.
Then, without informing me of my rights, he asked me about a comment I had put on his Facebook page which consisted of many blank pages at the end of which was a photograph of a finger. He had to scroll down a lot to get to the bottom of it. It was obvious he was annoyed with my comment. He wanted to know why I had done it and I told him I was bored. He questioned me for about 20 minutes and I was left in the shipping container for about another hour and then I was questioned by a soldier.
The soldier did not inform me of my rights and did not allow me to speak to a lawyer. He asked me about video footage of some young boys throwing a Molotov cocktail at soldiers which he had found on my phone. He accused me of being among the boys who threw the Molotov cocktail and wanted to know who else was with me. When I told him I was not with the boys he punched me in the stomach right where I had the surgery wound and I was in severe pain. He also swore at me.
I was questioned by that soldier for about 36 hours. He punched and kicked me many times until my stiches fell apart and I was bleeding heavily. I did not sleep and I was not given any food or drink and I was allowed to use the toilet only once. The bleeding was so heavy that they took me to the hospital.
At the hospital I was handcuffed to the bed. I was given a drip and then I fell asleep and did not know what happened. The doctors stitched the wound properly and the bleeding stopped. When I woke up I saw three soldiers in the room; one of them asked me if I was feeling ok. I spent three hours at the hospital and then I was taken to Al Mascobiyeh police station, in West Jerusalem
At Al Mascobiyeh I was put in a small cell underground. I was by myself in the cell for seven days. The cell measured not more than 1 x 2 meters and had one small window but because it was underground I did not see any daylight and I could not tell day from night. During this time I had two interrogations.
The first interrogation was two days later. The interrogator asked me how I was and then told me I had the right to remain silent. He did not arrange for me to speak to a lawyer. In the beginning I decided to exercise my right to remain silent, but then the interrogator put so much pressure on me and I could not maintain it. He yelled at me and told me to answer and to respond to his questions. 
Then he told me two of my friends had confessed against me saying I had thrown a Molotov cocktail at the military watchtower and at passing military vehicles on Route 60. He told me the incident happened on 20 August 2020. I denied the accusation and told him I had no idea what he was talking about and that I was very sick in August. 
He questioned me for about three hours. At the end he wanted me to sign a document written in Hebrew but I refused to sign. After the interrogation I was taken back to the cell.
On the seventh day I was taken for a second interrogation. I did not speak to a lawyer and the interrogator told me I already knew I had the right to silence from the previous interrogation. This interrogator had a camera in the room and he accused me of the same accusations. He yelled at me in the beginning but then he calmed down. He told me if I told him who threw the Molotov cocktail he would release me. I denied the accusation and told him I did not know who did it. He questioned me for about two hours and at the end he asked me to sign a document in Hebrew but I refused to sign.
Then I was taken to another cell with other detainees. I was searched with my clothes on. 
My first military court hearing was on the seventh day after my arrest. It was conducted via video link. My mother attended and my detention was extended. Later I was transferred to Ofer prison, near Jerusalem, after spending 16 days at Al Mascobiyeh. 
I had about 17 military court hearings and at the last one, which was on 24 January 2021, the same day I was released, the military judge decided to release me on bail because of my medical condition. My parents had to pay NIS 8,000 in bail. 
I was released after the hearing and I went home with my father, my brother and my uncle. I was released at Ofer checkpoint and I arrived home at night. I have had four more military court hearings since I was released on bail. I attended two and missed two because I had exams. My next hearing is scheduled for 21 June 2021.
This testimony was produced with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Military Court Watch.