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From the field

Testimony: Interrogation of M.A., Palestinian minor, in the ISA interrogation facility in Petach-Tikva, March 2009

M.A., 17

On 4 March 2009, around four o'clock in the morning, soldiers came to my house to arrest me.  They banged on the door.  My father opened it and let them come in, and then he woke me.  Around fifteen soldiers came into the house.  They searched it and then told me to get dressed because they wanted to take me.

After I got dressed, the soldiers bound my hands in front of me with plastic cuffs and blindfolded me.  They put me in a jeep.  An officer was in the jeep and he asked me my name.  The soldiers sat me on the floor of the jeep, crouched over, and told me to keep my head facing down the whole way./>

The jeep drove to Huwara.  I knew we had gone there due to the amount of time it took and also because I know this is where they take detainees from Nablus.  At Huwara, they took me out of the jeep and put me in a wide vehicle, where they asked me questions about my health and filled out a form.  I told them I had asthma.  I had an inhaler that I had brought with me from home because I can't live without it.  They took me to rooms in Huwara.  Around 8:00 A.M., they took me to Petach-Tikva.

When we got there, a doctor checked me.  I told him, too, that I had asthma, and he recorded it.  Then they searched me while I was nude and took my pants because they had metal coins on them.  They also took my belt, hat, and cell-phone case.  They gave me a receipt, but it remained with them in my pants' pocket.

At that point, they took me to a cell alone and, about an hour later, to interrogation.  The jailer cuffed my hands behind me to the chair and a few minutes later an interrogator who introduced himself as “Steven” came into the room./>

Steven introduced me to the place and explained that I was in Petach-Tikva.  He said that somebody had incriminated me in all kinds of things, which he described.  This was the first time I heard these accusations.

I remained in the interrogation room with Steven for about two hours.  Then he sent me to Cell 5.  In the afternoon, he interrogated me for another hour or so, and then he sent me back to the same cell.

The next day, they transferred me to a new cell, where I remained alone all day and they didn't interrogate me.  Nor did they interrogate me on Friday and Saturday.  It is hard to be alone in a cell.  It is small, about 2x2 meters, and has an open toilet with a strong odor.  There were three blankets that had a disgusting smell.  I had a hard time, this was the first time I had been arrested, and I hope it is the last.  I had never been in a situation like that.

The hardest thing was that I didn't have anybody to talk to, while I was certain I hadn't done anything.  I thought about my family all the time, and wondered whether somebody had said something about me.  I constantly thought about how much longer I would stay there like that, when I'd get to see the family again.  The cell made my asthma worse.  I used the inhaler about seven times a day.

On Sunday, around 9:00 A.M., they took me to be interrogated by Steven.  The questioning lasted for about an hour.  He asked me the same questions he had asked previously.  He would ask a question, I would answer, and then he would leave for 10-15 minutes, go outside, and leave me sitting on the chair, cuffed.  Then he'd come back and ask a different question.  That was the way the interrogation went./>

Then Steven forgot about me again for three days, during which they didn't interrogate me.  They put another person into my cell, a seventeen-year old.

After those three days, I was taken to interrogation again, for two hours more or less.  Most of the time, Steven was busy with other things, with the computer or doing something outside the room.  We spoke very little.  I was bound to the chair all the time.

Over the next two weeks, they didn't question me at all.  There wasn't anything to ask me.  The interrogator might have understood that I had no idea about what he was asking me. After two weeks, they took out the minor who was in my cell.

I remained alone until they moved me to another cell, with a young man from Balata, and on the following day they added another person.

Now we were three, and I remained with them until the end of my time in Petach-Tikva.  I was there a total of twenty-eight days. 

My detention was extended twice at Petach-Tikva.  Eight days after I was arrested, it was extended for fourteen days, and the second time is was extended for six days.  I saw my lawyer only at the court hearings, though there was no prohibition on our meeting.

They took only one statement from me, I think it was on the twenty-sixth day. Two days later, they transferred me to Megiddo, and I've been here since. />/>

Since then, I've been to the court in Sallem twice.  The first time, my lawyer told me an indictment had been filed against me. On 20 May 2009, I had the second hearing. I was present, but didn't understand what was going on. The hearing was simultaneously translated, but I didn't understand any of it, only that the judge asked me to identify myself, and that my trial was set for 28 June 2009.  At both hearings, the lawyers told me my case was simple. What was good about the hearings in court was that I could see my parents and motion to them from a distance, that I could communicate with them somehow, because I was not allowed to speak with them.

I am worried about the fact that I was not given books that my parents sent with the Red Cross, and that I'll probably lose the chance to take the matriculation tests.  I haven't heard anything about the tests in jail; all the other guys say there apparently won't be tests./>

General information on the conditions of his detention in Petach-Tikva

  • The light in the cell was on all the time, making it hard to sleep.

    The walls were bumpy, making it impossible to lean against them because they pricked you.

    The air-conditioner made noise all the time, making it hard to sleep./>/>
  • The jailers shouted and reprimanded all the time; if you asked them for aspirin, they shouted that they didn't have time for you.
  • You had headaches all the time in this cell.  It happened to everybody and it happened to me as well.  I requested aspirin all the time.  Sometimes they gave me some, but always with shouts and after a delay.  I requested aspirin in the morning and got it in the afternoon.


    You were given a few minutes to shower and weren't given shampoo.  />/>
  • After shouts and protest, they gave you a change of pants.
  • I received only a towel, and soap without soap
  • The Red Cross came to visit me two weeks after I arrived.  They asked questions and that was it.

    The food was, for the most part, cold and old.  I ate it because I had no choice.  I mostly ate bread with tea and fruit, if it came.

    I was in the medical clinic once, for blotches on the back of my neck while I was in the solitary cell.  They gave me pills, but they didn't help./>/>
  • When I was in the solitary cell, I used the inhaler six or seven times a day, because it was suffocating. 

M.A, 17, twelfth-grade student from Nablus District, was arrested on March 4, 2009 and interrogated in the ISA interrogation facility in Petach-Tikva. His testimony was given to Attorney Taghrid Shbita, of HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, on 3 June 2009 at Megiddo Prison.