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Testimony: A.A.A.I.


Name:  A.A.A.I.
Age:  14
Date:  13 January 2023
Location:  Hebron, West Bank
Accusation:  Weapon possession

On 13 January 2023, a 14-year-old girl from Hebron was arrested by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint at 10:30 a.m. in possession of a knife. She reports ill treatment and being denied her basic legal rights under Israeli military law. She was sentenced to 2 months in prison and fined NIS 3,500. She also received a suspended sentence.

At around 10:30 a.m. I was on my way to visit my grandparent’s house when I decided to stop by the Ibrahimi mosque. I was at school that day and we finished early because we had exams. I was not familiar with the security arrangements near the mosque and I walked beside the metal detector instead of through it. The soldiers were alarmed and immediately grabbed me. They searched my bag and found a kitchen knife which I keep in for self-defence as there are a lot of sexual harassment incidents. 
When the soldiers saw the knife I think they thought I was planning to stab a soldier. One of them punched me in the face and bruised my nose and mouth. I was in severe pain and I passed out. When I recovered I found myself blindfolded and handcuffed to the back with metal handcuffs. The handcuffs were not painful.
I was left there, next to a small room, handcuffed and blindfolded, for about four hours. Then I was taken to the back of a jeep where I sat on a seat and taken somewhere for a quick medical examination. Then I was taken somewhere else for interrogation. It was around 4:00 p.m.
I was allowed to call my father before the interrogation but I was not allowed to speak to a lawyer. The interrogator was an Israeli policeman. He removed the blindfold. He did not speak good Arabic and spoke to me through an interpreter. As soon as I entered the interrogation room he wanted to know why I was in possession of a knife. He questioned me without informing me of my right to silence. 
The interrogator wanted to know why I was in the area of the mosque. He accused me of intending to stab soldiers. He questioned me for about three hours and was aggressive at times. He did not threaten me but sometimes raised his voice at me when he did not get the answer he was expecting. He did not ask me to sign any documents.
After the interrogation I was taken in a vehicle to Hasharon prison, inside Israel. By then it was around midnight. I was exhausted and in pain. At Hasharon I was taken to a cell where I spent a whole week by myself. I found this time hard. I thought of my younger brother who was a month old. I wanted to be with him. I was also worried about my school. I did not want to miss or fail my exams as I am a good student with an average of 90.
The cell was small, the size of a small bathroom, with a tiny widow in the door. I was able to see faint day light and was therefore able to tell day from night. Although I managed to sleep, I was not rested. I woke up tired and anxious. 
The following day I had a military court hearing which my father and uncle attended. I was denied bail and the hearing was adjourned. I had four military court hearings. At the last one, which was on 1 February 2023, I was sentenced in a plea bargain to two months in prison and fined NIS 3,500. I also received another nine months in prison, suspended for three-and-a-half years. My lawyer advised me accept the plea bargain and I did. 
After spending a week at Hasharon, I was transferred to Damoun prison, also in Israel, where I was held with 27 adult female prisoners. A few days later I was taken for another interrogation. 
The interrogator did not allow me to speak to a lawyer and I am not sure whether he told me anything about the right to silence. He had a camera in the room and asked me the same questions as the first interrogator. He did not ask me to sign any documents. 
In prison I spent my time reading books. I also helped clean the ward and I cooked and folded laundry. I did not have any family visits and I was not allowed to call home.
I was released at Salem checkpoint on 17 February 2023, following an early release date. I went home with my father and three of my uncles. We arrived home at around 4:00 p.m. I missed my family badly; this was the hardest thing about being in prison.