Date of arrest: 29 June 2011
Date of affidavit: 6 July 2011
Location: Azzun, occupied West Bank
Accusation: Throwing stones
On 29 June 2011, a 12-year-old boy from Azzun, in the occupied West Bank, 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 realized 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 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 3×3 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.
Since January 2009, DCI-Palestine alone has documented 40 cases of children from Azzun village who have been detained by Israeli forces, mostly on suspicion of throwing stones. These cases only represent a small sample of the total number of cases involving the arrest of children from Azzun. See Urgent Appeal 4/11 – Children of Azzun.
(www.dci-palestine.org / 05.08.2011)