Torture & abuse under interrogation

Sleep deprivation; prolonged binding; verbal and sometimes physical abuse; exposure to heat and cold; poor, meager food; small, foul-smelling cells; solitary confinement; unhygienic conditions. A new report by HaMoked and B’Tselem shows these to be standard in interrogations at Israel Security Agency’s (ISA) facility at Shikma Prison. The report is based on affidavits and testimonials by 116 Palestinians interrogated there from Aug. 2013 to March 2014, including at least 14 who had been interrogated under torture by the Palestinian Authority shortly before. The ISA’s interrogation system is run with the approval of Israeli authorities, including the High Court of Justice.

February 24

Op-ed by Yael Stein, Director of B'Tselem’s Research Dept., first published in Ynetnews. In response to allegations that torture was used in interrogating the suspects in the torching of the Dawabsheh family home that killed three people, PM Netanyahu was quick to reassure: “All the investigations are being conducted in accordance with the law”. The question is not whether a given act is in accordance with a specially tailored law. The fact that something is legal does not make it justifiable. Sometimes the fact that something is legal serves only to illustrate the bankruptcy of legislative mechanisms.

Sleep deprivation, one of the “special measures”. Illustration by Ishai Mishory.
December 30

Israel’s law enforcement authorities have formulated an interrogation system that relies on abuse and even torture. It is not the private initiative of any individual interrogator or prison guard. The use of these measures in interrogation is wrong. People under interrogation – be they Palestinian or Jewish – must not be subjected to abuse and torture, no matter what.

December 23

Recent reports state the ISA may use “special measures” against the suspects in the Duma torching which killed three members of the Dawabsheh family. These measures are a code name for abuse used in the interrogation system developed since the 1999 court ruling banning torture. Authorities must fully investigate and prosecute this heinous crime, one of the worst perpetrated by Israelis against Palestinians, but it must do so without resorting to prohibited measures or violating suspects’ rights. The same must apply to all Palestinian detainees, who are routinely abused and at times tortured.

Sleep deprivation, one of the “special measures”. Illustration by Ishai Mishory.
December 15

Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem welcomes the recommendations of the Turkel Commission concerning investigations of violations of the laws of armed conflict and calls for full and prompt implementation. Implementation of the commission’s recommendations will lead to a substantive change in the Israeli military’s investigatory apparatus. In its recommendations, the commission adopted several fundamental principles presented to it by representatives of B’Tselem, other human rights organizations and senior jurists.

Photo: Reuters
February 6

On 9 Jan. '12, an Israeli Military Youth Court judge held that a confession given to the police by a 14-year-old Palestinian boy suspected of stone-throwing was admissible, although the minor's rights had clearly been breached under Israel’s Youth Law. In doing so, Judge Rivlin-Ahai forwent an important opportunity to set a standard for protecting the rights of Palestinian minors interrogated by police.

A.D.s' interrogation, taken from video footage of the interrogation by the police.
January 15

On 30 Nov. '11, the military court in Ofer ruled that a confession given by Ayman Hamidah during an ISA (Shabak) interrogation was inadmissible, since it had not been given willingly. In an unusual step, the court acquitted Hamidah of the charges that were based solely on the confession. In fact, the interrogation methods that Hamidah described have been used against hundreds of Palestinians, and are classified in international law as torture or maltreatment, which are absolutely prohibited.

Illustration: Ishai Mishory.
December 13

Mustafa al-Hindi was tortured in an ISA interrogation, as detailed in B’Tselem's 1999 report Cooperating against Justice, on human-rights violations by Israel and the PA following the murder of two Israelis in Wadi Qelt. Al-Hindi sued Israel for psychological damage and was, this week, awarded compensation in settlement of the suit.

December 21

HaMoked and B'Tselem's new joint report exposes routine ill-treatment of Palestinians in interrogations. The findings, based on testimonies of 121 Palestinians, show they were subjected to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and in some cases, also to torture. The report calls on Israel to cease the illegal practices, punish the offenders, and compensate the victims.

Illustration: Sleep deprivation in GSA interrogation.
November 2

On 30 Sept. '08, police arrested Shadi Sabatin and his Israeli employer. An interrogator then severely beat him, trying to force him to confess he worked in Jerusalem without a permit. Sabatin's employer, who heard his cries in the interrogation room, placed a complaint with the Department for Police investigations.

November 12

In late 2007, soldiers arrested Majed Jaradat after he threw stones at a demonstration. Jaradat told B'Tselem that soldiers beat and kicked him while he was detained, and a policeman beat him during a subsequent interrogation. He was then tried and held with adult prisoners for two months.

July 3

B'Tselem and PCATI mark June 26, the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, with a new video. The right of every person not to be subjected to ill-treatment or torture (physical or mental) is one of the few human rights that are considered absolute. Therefore, it is forbidden to balance it against other rights and values, or suspend or restrict the right, even in the context of the struggle against terrorism.

June 26

Five Human Rights organizations filed a petition to the High Court of Justice demanding the Court prohibit the use of family members by the GSS to pressure interrogees

April 16

On 11 March 2008, the Department for Investigation of Police arrested two policemen from the Ma'ale Adumim police station. The two are suspected of severely abusing a Palestinian from al-'Eizariya, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The arrest followed a complaint made by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.

March 23

In March 2007 the police arrested 7 Palestinian construction workers in a building site in Beer Sheva and interrogated them. According to testimonies given to B'Tselem, at least three of the detainees were tortured during their interrogation.

June 21

The ISA routinely maltreats Palestinian detainees during interrogations and in some cases even tortures them. This is one of the findings of the report issued today by B'Tselem and HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual.

May 6

Police officers took Iyad Shamasneh to a police station in which he was severely beaten and abused. Eventually he was released with no legal action taken against him.

April 4

On March 12, 2006, plain-clothed police officers assaulted two children, ages 15 and 11, who were on their way home in the neighborhood of Abu Tor in East Jerusalem . The officers beat the two boys and took the older one to a police station where they abused him severely. The family has filed a complaint.

April 4

The General Security Service repeatedly ordered a Palestinian family to appear at its offices, held them for hours at a time, and maltreated them. In late November, B'Tselem wrote to the Civil Administration's demanding that the abuse end. B'Tselem did not receive a response to its demand. However, the family reported that the maltreatment had ceased.

January 5