Testimony - Naifeh N.
|Location:||Al Arrub, West Bank|
|Date:||7 April 2013|
A mother describes the day her 15-year-old son is arrested at 3:00 a.m. by Israeli soldiers from the family home in the Al Arrub refugee camp, in the West Bank. Naifeh’s son was accused of throwing stones.
“I was asleep when I woke up to the voice of my son telling me soldiers were at our door,” recalls Naifeh. “I had no idea why the soldiers had come to our house at 3:00 a.m. My husband wasn’t at home that night as he was on night duty. My son opened the door and found about 30 soldiers in front of the house; some were masked and looked really scary. A television crew from Israel’s Channel 2 was them. They filmed everything.”
“One of the soldiers spoke very good Arabic and asked my son for his name. He also asked him who else was in the house. When my son mentioned his younger brother Ahmad the soldier asked him to go and tell Ahmad to come. Ahmad, who is 15 and physically small for his age, was terrified to be woken up by his brother knowing he was wanted by the soldiers. The soldier then asked to see my Identity Card and checked Ahmad’s name on it. I begged the soldiers not to take Ahmad away. I said none of them would like to see their children taken away like this in the middle of the night, but they did not listen to me. They told Ahmad to put on his clothes because they were going to take him. Ahmad begged them not to take him that night because he had an exam at school the following day, he didn’t want to fail. The soldier didn’t say anything but the commander told Ahmad not to worry because if everything went well he would be home the following day. This was the first time my son Ahmad was arrested. Nobody told us where they were taking him or why. It was a terrible night, I couldn’t go back to sleep,” recalls Naifeh.
“In the morning I received a phone call from the interrogator. He told me to bring money to the police station in Etzion settlement. He said bring 2,000 to 3,000 shekels ($550-$830) so that Ahmad could be released. I borrowed money from friends and relatives and went with my other son to Etzion. At Etzion we looked for Ahmad from one place to another before locating him. I was hoping to take him back home with me but this didn’t happen. The policeman told me they were going to keep him. I felt very sad. I was able to see Ahmad from behind a fence. He seemed o.k. I believe because he thought he was going to be released. When he realised this wasn’t the case he started to cry. He broke my heart.”
Later that night Ahmad was transferred to Ofer prison, near Ramallah, in the West Bank. A lawyer told Naifeh that there would be a military court hearing for Ahmad on 9 April. “On that day I left the house at 6:00 a.m. and didn’t leave Ofer until 4:00 p.m. It was a long and exhausting day. In court when I saw Ahmad in shackles I cried. He cried when he saw me. The lawyer told him that his file was missing, so the judge adjourned the case to 11 April”
Ahmad’s case was reviewed by a court appointed social worker who recommended that he be released. On 23 April, after five court appearances and 16 days in prison, Ahmad was released on bail. “We had to pay 4,000 shekels (about $1,100) in bail,” recalls Naifeh. “The judge ordered Ahmad to remain under house arrest for a whole year. He is only allowed to attend a court sessions, that’s all. This decision has been devastating; he hasn’t been going to school since he was released. His mind is distracted and he is unable to study at home. I have asked private teachers to come to our house to give him private lessons because I don’t want him to miss this school year.”
“Ahmad has changed since this incident; he is defiant, doesn’t listen to me and is finding it hard to stay at home while his friends and classmates go to school,” says Naifeh. “The lawyer is costing us a lot of money too, we already paid him 3,000 shekels (about $830) and it is not clear what he will be able to achieve. I can’t wait for this nightmare to be over and for our lives to go back to normal.”