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About an hour-and-a-half later, Thaer was placed in a truck with another child and transferred to Ari’el settlement. On arrival at Ari’el, Thaer was taken straight for interrogation.
The interrogator removed his blindfold but kept him tied with his hands behind his back.
“‘You’re accused of throwing stones and you better confess,’ the interrogator immediately said. ‘But I didn’t do anything,’ I replied and he started beating me hard. He slapped me several times and pushed me against the wall and that hurt my body. ‘You better confess because your friend confessed on you in his statement,’ he was saying. The interrogation lasted for about three hours during which time another interrogator came into the room.
He never hit me, but he took my statement. He wrote it in Arabic. After he finished writing it, he ordered me to sign it but I refused, but he forced me to sign it. After that, he allowed me to use the bathroom,” recalls Thaer.
Shortly afterwards, Thaer and another boy were placed in a truck and transferred to Ofer prison, near Ramallah. “One of the soldiers kept beating me hard for no reason. He slapped me hard several times,” says Thaer. “At around noon, we arrived at Ofer prison and the soldiers detained me in a small room in the yard outside the prison with two other children. It was very hot outside. They kept us in the room until 10:00 pm. Then they took us inside and strip searched us separately.” The next day, Thaer was transferred to Megiddo prison inside Israel, in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
| Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted On 29 June 2011, a 12-year-old boy from Azzun village is arrested by Israeli soldiers from the family home at 2:00 am.
“At around 2:00 am I was sleeping when I woke up to banging on the outside door,” says Sameer. “Someone was banging hard on the door and I didn’t know why. I got up and went to the living room and saw my parents and siblings. We were very scared.” Sameer’s father went and opened the door. “About five minutes later I heard my father saying: ‘Bring the boys downstairs and keep the girls upstairs.’ I felt so scared I started shivering. Me and my brother went downstairs with my mother and saw around six soldiers with my father. I was very scared of the soldiers whose faces were covered in black showing only their eyes. One of them did not cover his face and he was holding a digital camera.” The soldiers spoke to Sameer’s father in Hebrew and he translated. The boys were ordered to raise their hands and the soldier with the camera took their photo.
“The soldier talking to my father took a piece of paper out of his pocket and started checking it and my father’s ID. ‘Where’s Sameer?’ he asked. I became terrified but I didn’t think they would take me. He talked to my father in Hebrew and then pointed at me and said: ‘Bau, bau,’ which I think means come here in Hebrew. At that moment I realised they wanted me. I was so shocked and horrified I couldn’t breathe a single word. My father comforted me and asked me not to be scared. Meanwhile, two soldiers grabbed me by the arms and took me out of the house. They all left the house and closed the door behind. I saw more than 15 soldiers around the house in the yard and near the front door.
Two soldiers blindfolded me and they also tied my hands behind my back with one set of plastic cords. The soldiers were talking to each other in Hebrew.” Sameer was then led to a vehicle and made to sit on the floor. About 15 minutes later the vehicle arrived at an unknown location. Sameer was pulled out of the vehicle and made to sit on the ground. “Meanwhile, I heard dogs approaching us,” recalls Sameer. “I became terrified to hear dogs approaching. Soldiers were saying things in Hebrew and I didn’t understand. I felt they were getting closer and I shouted: ‘The dogs, the dogs,’ trying to move away, but I couldn’t because my hands were still tied behind my back. ‘Keep them away,’ I heard others shouting. ‘Keep the dogs away, we haven’t done anything to you,’ I cried.
I was petrified because the dogs could jump at me at any moment. This continued for | 107 about 20 minutes, during which time I kept crying and shouting. Others were shouting as well. Male and female soldiers were laughing and saying things in Hebrew,” says Sameer.
After 20 minutes, Sameer was taken into a clinic and briefly asked some questions about his health. After the questions, Sameer was re-blindfolded and his plastic ties were replaced with metal cuffs tied to the front. Sameer was then placed on the ground for about one-and-a-half hours. “I felt very cold,” says Sameer. After sitting on the ground for more than an hour, Sameer was placed in another vehicle and transferred to Ari’el settlement for interrogation.
“I was taken to a room measuring 3x3 metres,” recalls Sameer. “They removed the blindfold once I entered the room. There was a man in civilian clothes sitting behind one of the desks. He was short, bald and plump. He ordered me to sit in a wooden chair in front of him. There were another two men in civilian clothes in the room. ‘You threw stones at the bypass road near the gate,’ the short man said once I sat down. ‘No I didn’t,’ I said.
‘Where were you on Nakba day?’ He asked. ‘I was home because my father didn’t allow me to leave the house,’ I said. He spoke fluent Arabic. ‘I’ll beat you up if you don’t tell the truth and confess to throwing stones,’ the interrogator said. ‘I didn’t throw any stones and I didn’t do anything to you,’ I said while shaking with fear. He got up and approached me to slap me on the face and neck. ‘You’ll confess to everything,’ he shouted. He kicked me while I was sitting in the chair with my hands handcuffed to the front. ‘If you don’t confess, I’ll beat you more and throw you out of the window,’ he said. He then grabbed me by the shirt and said he would throw me out of the window. There was a big window in the room. I was terrified but I didn’t confess. ‘I didn’t do anything to you and I didn’t throw stones,’ I told him. He started talking to the other men in Hebrew. They never talked to me.
They just kept coming in and out,’ recalls Sameer.
Sameer then recalls signing papers written in Arabic and Hebrew without reading them.
He was then taken out and made to sit in a corridor. It was about 2:00 or 3:00 pm. Sameer was untied and his blindfold was removed and he was given a meal. About an hour later a car arrived and he was driven to Qalqiliya. He was handed over to the Palestinian police and released.
“I’m still afraid of soldiers and I can’t sleep at night. I’m anxious and still traumatized because of what happened. This was the first time I went through such a horrible experience which terrified me. I’m scared of the darkness. I keep thinking soldiers will come back and arrest me,” says Sameer.
| Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted On 11 July 2011, a 15-year-old boy from Qalandiya refugee camp, near Ramallah, is arrested by Israeli soldiers from the family home at 3:00 am.
“At around 3:00 am on 11 July, I was sleeping when I woke up to noise outside my room,” recalls Malek. “I opened my eyes and saw soldiers and my father. I don’t know how they got into the house. There were so many of them. ‘Get dressed because you’re coming with us,’ one of them said to me in Arabic.” Malek reports that he quickly got dressed and was then led out of the house by some soldiers. “When they took me out, one of them tied my hands behind my back with two sets of plastic cords that were very tight. He also blindfolded me.” Malek was then led to a waiting military vehicle and pushed inside. He recalls what happened next: “[The] soldiers started punching me in the face and kicking me all over my body while shouting things in Hebrew. I didn’t understand what they were saying but I believe they were insulting me.” Malek reports that the vehicle travelled for about an hour until they arrived at a military camp. “They pulled me out and had me sit on the ground for like three hours.” Malek says he asked the soldiers for some water to drink but his requests were refused. After three hours, Malek was placed inside another military vehicle and transferred to a police station. On arrival at the police station, Malek says that he was again made to sit on the ground; this time for about an hour, after which he was placed in a cell.
“At around 4:00 pm I was taken to an interrogation room where my blindfold and ties were removed,” he recalls. “I was seated in a chair in front of a desk. There was an interrogator wearing a cap worn by Orthodox Jews. He spoke fluent Arabic. He accused me of starting a fire near the settlement of Kochav Ya’akov and throwing stones, but I didn’t confess. ‘You better confess,’ he shouted. Then he printed a document in Hebrew and ordered me to sign it, but I refused, so he slapped me hard across the face while shouting.
He stood me up and pushed me towards the wall and I slammed against it. I was so scared of him I immediately signed the papers. He didn’t explain what was written.” After the papers were signed, the interrogator handcuffed Malek’s hands in front of his body and about 30 minutes later he was put in another vehicle with an adult detainee.
Malek and the other man were then driven a short distance and placed together in a single cell. They were not given anything to eat or drink. Shortly after midnight, Malek and the other man were placed in a vehicle and transferred to Ofer prison. On arrival outside the prison they were both placed in a small cage and left for around three hours. After | 109 three hours, Malek was taken inside the prison and strip searched before being taken to a cell where other children were being detained.
On 12 July 2011, Malek appeared for the first time before Ofer military court and on 25 July, he was transferred to Rimonim prison, inside Israel. The transfer of children out of the West Bank to prisons inside Israel contravenes Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
On 14 September 2011, a 15-year-old boy from Azzun village is arrested by Israeli soldiers from the family home at 2:00 am, and accused of throwing stones.
“At around 2:00 am, I was sleeping […] when I woke up to banging on the front door,” recalls 15-year-old Abed. His father opened the door and there were four Israeli soldiers waiting outside. The soldiers ordered the family outside and then checked everybody’s I.D. cards. “One of them asked me for my name and when I told him he said to my father that they wanted to take me with them,” recalls Abed.
Abed was then taken out of the house by the soldiers. “They closed the door and did not allow anyone to come out. They tied my hands behind my back with one plastic cord and tightened it.” Abed reports that he was then asked some questions about the neighbours and was slapped “hard” across his face when he said he did not know anything. A short time later Abed reports being knocked to the ground. “While I was on the ground, one of the soldiers grabbed me hard by the neck and started pressing on it with one hand, while pressing down on my head with the other. My face was facing the ground and that hurt me very much,” says Abed. He was then led to a waiting military vehicle, blindfolded and pushed inside and on the floor. “There were soldiers inside the jeep and they kept me sitting on the floor.” During the trip to the interrogation centre, Abed reports that a soldier first placed his leg on him, and then sat on his back. “He was so heavy I started shouting because it was painful, but he put his hand on my mouth and started pressing to shut me up. ‘I’ll kill you if I ever hear your voice,’ he said.” Abed was taken to the settlement of Zufin where he was given a cursory medical check.
After the check, Abed was made to sit outside for about an hour, still tied and blindfolded, | Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted before being transferred to the police station in Ari’el settlement. Along the way Abed reports that he asked a soldier to loosen his hand ties, but he refused. On arrival at Ari’el, Abed was taken for interrogation. “A man approached me and grabbed me hard by the neck. He spoke Arabic. ‘You’re going to interrogation now so you can either talk the easy way or the hard way.’ ‘I’ve got nothing to tell you,’ I said to him and be became very upset.
He hit me hard on the leg and I fell.” Abed reports being left on the ground for about an hour, still tied and blindfolded, until a man came and took him to the interrogation room.
Once inside the interrogation room Abed’s hand ties and blindfold were removed. He was accused of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails which he denied. “‘You better confess or I’ll break your head,’ said the interrogator raising his hand, but he did not do it,” reports Abed. “I was so scared of the interrogator I confessed to throwing stones once […] ‘You threw stones more than that,’” the interrogator shouted, and Abed says he then confessed to throwing stones four times because he was scared. Abed says the interrogation lasted about two hours during which time he was alone with the interrogator. Later that day, Abed was transferred to Megiddo prison inside Israel, in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that prohibits transferring detainees out of occupied territory. On 19 September 2011, Abed was charged in a military court with throwing four stones.
On 17 November 2011, a 13-year-old boy from Azzun village is arrested by Israeli soldiers from the family home at 2:45 am, and accused of throwing stones.
“At around 2:45 am, my mother woke me up and told me there were Israeli soldiers in the house,” recalls 13-year-old Rashad.
“I was wearing my pyjamas. I got up and went out to the hall where I saw soldiers with my father and my two sisters.” “‘Are you Rashad?’ one of the soldiers asked me in Arabic. ‘Yes I am,’ I said. ‘You have 10 minutes to change your clothes and come with us or we’ll take you my force,’ he said. I went to my room and changed my clothes and came back to the soldiers.” Whilst Rashad was changing his father and uncle tried to convince the soldiers not to arrest him, but they refused.
Rashad was then taken out of the house and made to walk about 500 metres in the rain.