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From the field

ISA Interrogators Ill-treated 'A.M. during his interrogation

'A.M., 22

I live with my parents and brothers in a two story building. The bottom floor has two apartments where my uncles live and our apartment is the only one on the top floor.

On 25 September 2005, at around 2:00 AM, while we were all asleep, we were woken up by banging on the door. My father opened the door. There were about ten soldiers in green army uniforms standing at the doorway. One of the soldiers ordered father to get everyone in the house out into the street. We woke up my younger brothers and we all went outside. My uncles were outside with their families. There were four army jeeps around and we stood in front of the house, surrounded by armed soldiers. The soldiers took all of the men's ID cards. After about half an hour, they called my name. I came up to the soldier who called me. He introduced himself as "Captain Shaher" and told me: We're taking you to Etzion for half an hour and then we'll get you home. He handcuffed me and covered my eyes. They put me inside the army jeep.

The jeep began moving. It stopped about every 30 minutes. By the jeep's movement, I got the impression it was driving around the villages in the area of my village and that the soldiers got off every time to detain more people. I heard the soldiers getting off and banging on doors and the people being taken out of their homes. It went on for a few hours, and in the interim, I felt the sun had risen. At some point, one of the soldiers pushed the side of my body hard with his foot and I fell on the jeep's floor. Other than that, I wasn't beaten.

In the morning, the soldiers got me out of the jeep and onto a truck. There were other detainees on it. I heard some of them screaming. The truck drove some place where we were taken out and our handcuffs were removed. I understood we were in Etzion. They body searched us, without us having undressed. The soldiers took our belts and dispersed us between the rooms. I was put in a room with 20 detainees. I was there for about six hours and then a soldier called my name and two soldiers took me out of the room, led me outside and put me in an army jeep.

The jeep drove to Ashkelon prison and there, I was put into a tiny cell, 2 meters by 2 meters. There was no window and it wasn't ventilated. The cell's door was like a metal bomb shelter door. There was a mattress on the floor. I was alone in the cell and I stayed there until the next day. Then a soldier came, got me out, put a cover over my eyes and led me to another room. In that room he removed the blindfold and I saw that I was in a room about 3 meters by 3 meters. It had a computer, an air-conditioner and a man sitting on a chair behind a desk. The soldier cuffed my hands and tied them around the back of the metal chair, which was fixed to the floor behind the desk. The man sitting behind the chair introduced himself as "Captain Gino". He started asking me: Why are you here? What have you done? Who are your friend in the village? What do you do together? I was alone in the room with the interrogator. He sometimes shouted at me and also spat at me and cursed me. He called me a "dog" and an "animal".

After about two hours of interrogation, the interrogator left and turned the air-conditioner on at a very low temperature. I stayed there for about two hours, tied to the chair and freezing. Then the interrogator, Gino, returned, turned off the air-conditioner and asked my the same questions again: Did you throw stones? Did you throw Molotov cocktails at army jeeps? Who are your friends who did these things with you? The interrogation lasted about two hours again this time, and then the interrogator left the room. When the he came back, he turned on the air-conditioner at a very low temperature again for two hours. The interrogation went on like this for eight hours with no breaks. The interrogator didn't beat me, but he yelled at me, swore at me and threatened to bring my relatives and interrogate them too. He also threatened to put me through a polygraph to find out if I was lying. I asked him for water, but I wasn't given any. The interrogator let me go to the bathroom only once.

My interrogation lasted another eight straight days, including Saturday. The whole time I was being interrogated, I was sitting tied to the chair which was fixed to the floor. I was interrogated for five hours every day. At night, they banged on my door to disturb my sleep. They also opened it. I was interrogated by Gino and another interrogator whose name I can't remember who would come in and replace him. They didn't use any devices or direct physical violence, but they used the cold air-conditioning and also threatened to arrest my father and brother and lock them up for many years. The interrogator, Gino, made me keep my eyes focused on his for a long time. It was tiring. Every time I looked down or away, he would yell at me and call me names: animal, dog, look into my eyes.

After the eighth day of the interrogation, while I was in the tiny cell, the soldier brought another detainee in, who told me: Your interrogation is over and they're going to transfer you. I was surprised that he knew this, and I tried to avoid contact with him. The detainee kept talking to me. He told me about his heroic deeds and that the Israeli army persecuted him. He asked me to tell him about my heroic deeds. I told him I hadn't done anything and that I didn't have heroic deeds like his.

After a few hours, the soldiers took the detainee out. I understood that he was an 'asfoor (a collaborator working as an informer). The next day, a soldier got me out of my cell and put me into a police Ford car. The inside of the car looked like a holding cell.

I was taken to Beer Sheva prison and put into a room with 8 detainees. The conditions there were good. You could bathe whenever you wanted to. There were beds and enough food. I stayed in Beer Sheva for about 6 days. Then, they took me back to Ashkelon prison and into the interrogation room again. The same interrogator, Gino, was there. He said to me: Where have you been? I said: Beer Sheva. He said: How was prison? I said: Good. The interrogator laughed and told me: You were in the informer ('asafir) room at Beer Sheva prison. Why didn't you tell me what you told them? I was shocked to hear this. I didn't know what to say.

Then, two soldiers came and put me in a room with 12 detainees. After what I had discovered about Beer Sheva prison, I was afraid of them, so I didn't talk to anyone. There was a bathroom inside the room and the lights were kept on 24 hours a day. It was annoying during sleep. The food they brought us was mixed: macaroni mixed with rice and eggs. We made due with bread and fruit. The wardens treated us very badly. They provoked us and swore at us.

The Red Cross visited me only once, in September 2006, two months before the end of my term - a year and a half. Attorney Khaled al-'Araj who was appointed by the Palestinian Prisoner's Club, visited me twenty something days after I arrived at Ashkelon prison, on 20 October 2005 .

hen I arrived in Ashkelon , I was examined by a doctor, but he only took my temperature and asked questions like: Do you smoke? Do you take drugs? Have you had any operations? This time, they held me in Ashkelon for 20 days. Then, they took me to the Court in Ofer to extend my detention. They held me at Ofer for five months. There were 22 detainees in the tent and it was very cold, but the food was good and in sufficient quantities and we could bathe whenever we wanted to. I went to a few hearings in the Court, but they were postponed every time. The last hearing I went to was on 25 July 2006 , after I'd been in jail for a year without being brought before a judge. I was sentenced to a year and a half imprisonment and a NIS 3,000 fine for throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. From Ofer I was taken to the Ramla prison and from there to Nafha prison. I was released on 27 November 2006 .

'A.M., 22, is a resident of Bethlehem district. His testimony was given to Suha Zeid, at the witness' home on 12 December 2006.