Palestinians convicted of stone-throwing: They tortured us during interrogation

Ha’aretz

Written by: Nir Hassoun 23/05/2022

To be tied to a chair for a few days, to be in a cell, to stop eating, to sleep and to go to the toilet, all belonged to two Palestinians from East Jerusalem who were suspected of being policemen with stones. Nearly a month after the Shin Bet investigations, they confessed to what was attributed to them. The first by throwing a few stones and the second by throwing one stone. They were convicted and sentenced to eight months in prison.
Yazan al-Rajabi, a resident of Silwan in East Jerusalem, was under 21 when he was called last August to report to the al-Maskobiya police station. Yazan is the son of Zuhair al-Rajabi, who is one of the main activists in Silwan against the settlers’ takeover of the town. He was admitted to Room no. 4, the interrogation room with members of minorities notorious among the residents of East. Jerusalem. He was first questioned by two interrogators who identified themselves as Shin Bet interrogators. The first identified himself as Nessim and the second as Ze’ev. He is being investigated for an incident in which policemen were stoned in Silwan city center on July 9 last year. Yazan told interrogators he was not in the village that day, but was in the At-Tur neighborhood with a friend of his. They said to him, Well. They took all my clothes and gave me the clothes from the prison service and took me to a room full of interrogators, maybe 12 people. They put me on a chair and started questioning me from five o’clock in the evening until four o’clock in the afternoon the next day. I told them there are cameras where I am and that they should watch them. They said to me, ‘You are a liar.’
Yazan Al-Rajbi said the lengthy investigation was just the beginning of a much more difficult investigation. “The interrogators left me tied to a chair, my hands were tied backwards and my legs were forward. I stayed like this for a few days, without going to the toilet and without food and drink. “They put pressure on me to admit that I took part in the shooting of policemen in the stone-throwing incident.”
Rugby told B’Tselem’s researcher and the newspaper, Ammar al-Arouri, I had to urinate on myself.
Only after a few days of investigation did investigators gain access to security cameras that proved that rugby was throwing stones. “Instead of releasing me, they started questioning me about another stone-throwing incident that happened five days after the first incident,” Yazan said. “I asked them to bring my phone with me so that I could prove to them that I was not there on that date. But the investigator refused and said I was a liar. And they interrogated me for a few more days, each time for 17-19 hours at a time. ” Between one interrogation and the other, Rugby entered a room called a cell. The area, according to his estimate, and the estimate of others who were in it, was 2 meters by a meter, and his ceiling was low and it was not allowed to stand upright.
According to Al-Rajbi, interrogators put him in a low wooden box during one of the investigations. “My head was between my legs, which were tied, I could not pick it up and my hands were tied back. They kept me in the closet for two hours or longer. When the investigators opened it, I was unconscious. It’s like a pressure vessel. I thought my head was going to explode and I felt like my back was going to break. When I woke up, they immediately started questioning me about something else. This time they accused me of raising money from young people in Silwan to buy biscuits. On the day that happened, according to them, I was not in Silwan, but was working in a workshop in Jaffa. I even took a selfie on the site. But I did not tell them. I reserved my right to remain silent and refused to answer any more questions. “
Yazan was transferred to extend his detention at Megiddo Prison in the north. In prison, he was entered into a room with those who were convinced they were sparrows working with the interrogators. “Nine people came to my bed, scared, one of them was carrying a knife. They pretended to attack me and the others as if they were defending me. Someone said to me: You are the son of Zuhair. Your father was my friend. There’s a picture of him in the section above. I asked him to bring the photo so I could see it. He brought the picture and it felt like a hot picture and they just printed it. I told him it was not my father. This is how I stayed with clients for four days. ”
Rugby was then transferred to Ashkelon Prison. There, too, he felt that everyone around him was collaborators of the investigators. “Someone gave me chocolate and a cigarette. Another person made me swear on the Koran that I did not throw stones. One day they asked me to go to work with them in a laundromat. Someone gave me a phone to talk to my family. I told him: I do not remember the phone number. Suddenly I was hit from behind so I turned around and saw Detective Zeev behind me. He started cursing and hitting me. Then they handcuffed my hands and my feet, blindfolded me, and put me in a car. They put a seatbelt around my neck and we drove to Jerusalem, me and Zeev and a person named Weizmann. They investigated me all the way. “
Rugby has returned to the dungeon in the Moskobiyeh. There, he said, he was interrogated while tied to a low chair in a painful position. “They kept me in this position for two days without talking to me. Every time my head falls, a siren sounds to wake me up. Again I had to pee in my clothes. I asked the warden why they were not talking to me. He said: There is New Year’s Day and there is no one here. When the jailer came to release me, I could not stand and he had to pick me up. “
Rugby has collapsed. He confessed to throwing two stones at confrontations with police on campus. This is an offense he has never been accused of. After the confession, the torture stopped and he was given food and drink. As part of a deal, he was convicted of rioting and assaulting police officers. According to the indictment, he pelted policemen on campus with stones and stood on a roof from which other people threw stones at another incident in Silwan. Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Yaron Mentkepetz sentenced him to eight months in prison. Since his release, he has been suffering from a vision problem, which he says has occurred due to torture.
A few days after Yazan’s arrest in August, his cousin Muhammad al-Rajabi (19.5 years old) arrived at the station in Moskobiyeh. He was summoned after the incident with stones to policemen in Silwan. He was also interrogated with torture for a month and a half. A B’Tselem researcher reported that he was handcuffed to a low chair, that he was given food once a day and that he was prevented from going to the toilet. Twenty days after the interrogation, he confessed that he had thrown one stone. “I confessed because I was tired and exhausted. “I was in pain because they prevented me from going to the toilet and did not get enough food, and I was handcuffed to a chair for 10-15 hours a day,” he said. Despite his confession, the pressure on him continued. Like Yazan, he was also transferred to Megiddo Prison. “The prisoners there tried to convince me that they were from the organization and that they wanted information about me and my friends,” he said.
Muhammad was returned from Megiddo to the cell in Al-Maskobiya and the investigation continued. “My whole body was in pain because I was tied to a chair and the difficulty of sleeping in the detention room,” he told a B’Tselem researcher. “They put me in a very small room and my body was bent. I did not get the food orderly and what I got was quite bad. “They did not let us sleep, and the jailer knocked on the doors of the rooms.”
After forty days of investigation, a charge was laid against Muhammad for rioting, police officers were attacked and one stone was thrown. He was convicted after his confession and sentenced to eight months in prison. After his arrest, he stopped studying and started working as a cleaner. “I am afraid to go outside and I am afraid of the police,” he said.
The Shin Bet said in response that “the two prisoners were found guilty of the offenses attributed to them in the indictment. They were released shortly after serving their sentence. Without addressing the allegations raised in the complaint, it should be made clear that the place for such allegations should be investigated during the legal proceedings or within the framework of the investigation of the allegations of the interrogator with them in the Ministry of Justice if such complaints are lodged. . ”

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