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Testimony: S.S.I.D.


Name: S.S.I.D.
Age: 17
Date: 10 January 2019
Location: Azzun, West Bank
Accusation: Knife possession
On 10 January 2019, a 17-year-old minor from Azzun was arrested by Israeli soldiers at 10:00 p.m. at a temporary military checkpoint and accused of knife possession. He reports being denied his basic legal rights under Israeli military law. He reports being held in solitary confinement for 3 days. He was sentenced to 3 weeks in prison and fined NIS 2,000.
I was going home after work when the car I was in was stopped at a temporary Israeli military checkpoint. It was around 10:00 p.m. The soldiers searched me and found a Swiss Army knife in my pocket which I use at the car wash where I work. 
The soldiers immediately tied my hands behind my back with one plastic tie which was tight and painful and left marks on my wrists. Then they took me to the back of a military jeep where I was blindfolded and I sat on a seat. 
The jeep drove to the nearby military base at Zufin. At the base I was taken to a room where I sat on a chair tied and blindfolded until the afternoon of the following day. I could not sleep during this time because soldiers slammed the door and woke me up each time I fell asleep. I was able to use the toilet but I was not given any food or drink. 
In the afternoon I was taken to the police station in Ariel settlement where I waited for about an hour and then I was taken for interrogation.
The interrogator removed the tie and the blindfold and started to question me. He accused me of possessing a knife. I told him I had a knife in my pocket because I use it at work and had no intention of causing harm to anyone. He became angry and lost his temper and swore at me calling me “a son of a whore”. The interrogation lasted for about an hour and I continued to deny the accusation. 
When the interrogation was over the interrogator called a lawyer and allowed me to speak to him. The lawyer told me not to be scared and not to confess. Neither the lawyer nor the interrogator said anything about my right to silence. Then the interrogator gave me a document written in Hebrew and asked me to sign it but I refused to sign.
After the interrogation I was shackled, handcuffed and blindfolded and taken to Huwwara military base where I was strip searched and taken to a cell. The shackles, handcuffs and blindfold were removed and I spent a night in the cell. They brought me some food but I could not eat it because it was cold and unappetising.
In the morning I was examined by a doctor and then I was transferred to Megiddo prison, inside Israel.  At Megiddo I was strip searched  again and taken to the juvenile section. The following day I was taken to a military court. My parents attended and the hearing was adjourned. The judge refused to release me on bail. I had three military court hearings. 
At the last hearing I told the military judge I wanted to go back to school and to work to support my family. My lawyer and the prosecutor agreed on a plea bargain where the court would be satisfied by the 17 days I had already spent in prison in addition to a fine of NIS 2,000. However, the judge rejected the plea bargain and sentenced me to two months in prison. After court I was taken back to prison.
The following day I was taken to Ofer military court for an appeal hearing. On the way I was taken to Ramleh prison where I was left in a cell by myself for three days. During this time I did not see any human being and I was not given any food or drink. I was terrified and felt I was forgotten in that room and no one knew where I was. I banged at the door to get attention but no one responded. I had no shower but there was a toilet in the room. There were no windows in the room and the light was on all the time and I could not tell whether it was day or night. There were mice in the room.
After three days I was taken to court at Ofer where the judge decided to respect the plea bargain and he decided to release me immediately. My parents had to pay NIS 2,000 and I was given a suspended sentence of 28 months in prison valid for five years.
My parents were notified and they waited for me from around 2:00 p.m. until around 10:00 p.m. My father was told I would be released at Al-Jalama checkpoint and that was where he waited for me. My mother waited by Al-Jib checkpoint near Ofer. I was released at Ofer checkpoint and because I did not expect my parents to be there I took a taxi to Ramallah and called my mother who met me in Ramallah. I was shivering as I waited in the centre of Ramallah. My mother told me I looked pale and bewildered. I arrived home just after midnight. 
I am still suffering from the experience and I am taking it easy now. I haven’t been to school or work yet; my mother advised me to stay home to recover while she takes care of me.