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Home » Children »

Testimony: T.H.O.M.

 

Name: T.H.O.M.
Age: 13
Date: 10 January 2017
Location: Biddu, West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones

On 10 January 2017, a 13-year-old boy from Biddu is detained by Israeli soldiers at 2:30 p.m. as he went to play football in his village. He is charged with throwing stones and spends over a month in prison after conviction in a military court.

I went to the playground after school at around 2:30 p.m. to play football with my friends. I was walking by myself when all of a sudden I saw Israeli soldiers firing tear gas. I walked away to try to avoid the tear gas but I was stopped by a military jeep and about 10 soldiers who came up behind me. I was afraid. Then I noticed some boys running away when they saw the soldiers and I had no idea what was going on. One soldier aimed his gun at me and told me to stop and I did.
 
The soldiers yelled and grabbed me and one of them tied my hands behind my back with two plastic ties connected to each other. The ties were very tight and painful but when I complained to the soldier he made fun of me and did not do anything. Another soldier hit me with the butt of his gun on my back and pushed me into a jeep.
 
Inside the jeep they made me sit on a seat but I was very uncomfortable and my head hit the ceiling. While in this position the soldiers slapped and kicked me without telling me the reason for their behavior. The jeep drove a short distance to the nearby settlement of Givat Hahadasha where they made me stand by the jeep. The soldiers started to ask me some personal questions like my name and age and my father’s number. I was very scared.
 
Then they removed the ties and searched me and then took me to another vehicle where I sat on a seat and the vehicle drove to Atarot police station where I waited outside for more than two hours in the cold weather. Then I was taken for interrogation at around 5:00 p.m.
 
The interrogator wore civilian clothes. He took my parents’ number and told me if my parents didn't show up I wouldn’t be released. I gave him our landline number and he called my mother and told her where I was and told her to come to the police station at 5:30 p.m. My mother told him she didn’t have a permit to enter Jerusalem where the police station is and then he told her a military jeep would meet her at the checkpoint. He also asked my mother for my father’s number and called him and told him the same thing.
 
Then he took me outside and left me out in the cold for another two hours before he brought me back in and started to question me without informing me of any rights. He asked me how many stones I threw and I told him I did not throw any stones. He insisted that I threw some stones but I told him I did not throw a single stone. This lasted for about five minutes and then he took me outside where I saw my father. My father did not say much but he told me not to say anything without a lawyer present. About 15 minutes later they took me back to the interrogation room together with my father.
 
This time a different interrogator was in the room who looked messy in civilian clothes and had a computer and a camera in the room. He was talking to himself in Hebrew while typing. Then he switched to Arabic and told me he was going to read my rights to me. He told me I had the right to speak to a lawyer. Then he told me I had the right for my father to attend the interrogation and asked me whether I wanted my father to stay and I said yes. Then he told me anything I say, every word I utter, will be used against me and that everything was recorded. He also said my father was not allowed to say anything, not even to gesture, during the interrogation.
 
I told the interrogator I wanted a lawyer present but he told me a lawyer won’t make any difference because with or without a lawyer I had to talk. I believed him when he said a lawyer wouldn't make much of a difference and so I decided to talk and tell the truth, especially because I was innocent.
 
Then he asked me whether I wanted to tell him what had happened. I told him I went to the playground to play as I often do after school. Then he wanted to know who pays me money to throw stones and claimed that I had told him before my father came that I did throw stones. Then he wanted to know whether I was on the other side of the Wall and my father intervened and told him I was in the centre of the town when I was arrested. The interrogator then wanted to remove my father from the interrogation room. At this point my father insisted he wanted a lawyer and he left the room and called a lawyer. Then he came back in.
 
The interrogator became more aggressive. He banged the table and spoke in a loud and threatening tone of voice. He told me he had photographic evidence against me during clashes that showed I was busying myself with stones. He asked me what I was wearing on that day and told me to speak loudly. Then he showed me the picture and I told him the person in the picture was not me.  The interrogation lasted from around 8:00 p.m. until around 1:00 a.m.
 
At around 1:00 a.m. he told my father to leave and said that I would have a military court hearing on Thursday, 12 January 2017. Then he took me outside where I waited until around 2:30 a.m.
At around 2:30 a.m. I was taken to Ofer prison where I was searched in my underwear and then I was taken into Section 13. This was the first time I ever spent a night outside home and I could not sleep at all.
 
On Thursday, 12 January,  I was taken to Ofer military court and my father and a lawyer were there. The lawyer asked my father whether he would accept a plea bargain where I would plead guilty and spend two months in prison and pay 2,500 shekels in a fine. My father rejected the bargain because I was innocent and the hearing was adjourned.
 
Three days later I had another military court hearing. During this time my father consulted with three lawyers and they all advised him to accept the plea bargain even though I was innocent, otherwise I would spend between 9 and 12 months in prison.  I had a second hearing and my lawyer asked for me to be released on bail but the judge refused his request and asked my father to accept the plea bargain but my father refused again.
 
I changed my lawyer and on the third military court hearing my second lawyer managed to change the bargain from 2 to 1.5 months in prison and a 3,000 shekel fine instead of the 2,500. My father accepted this offer because he realised there was no other choice.
 
I spent my prison sentence at Ofer. I shared a room with nine other boys. In prison I attended classes but the standard was very low, they only taught us the alphabet. My parents did not visit me in prison because they needed a permit and the procedure for issuing the permit takes about two months. I missed my family a lot, especially my younger sister.
 
I was released on 9 February 2017 at around 3:00 p.m. All my relatives and friends were waiting for me at home. My mother cooked Maqlubeh for everyone and I loved it.